The New York State Capitol building a classic example of Gothic architecture perched atop State Street Hill in Albany. For the past year, this wonderful building has been closed to visitors out of an abundance of caution as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has sickened over one million New York residents and claimed the lives of another 40,000. With this pallor hanging over the Empire State, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo decided that he could literally kill two birds with one stone, brightening the lives of New York State’s twenty million citizens while promoting his green energy policy contained in his Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Unofficial gubernatorial spokesperson Merry McQuackenbush pointed out that, “This is a great way for folks to see the inside of the New York State Capitol, while also witnessing how far we have come with electric vehicles. We will be partnering with an Albany car dealership to get us these great cars, while also having the entire event broadcast live over YouTube.” The exact date of the Indoor Road Rally is still pending.
The Rally Course
The Capitol building was designed by five great architects, including Thomas Fuller, Leopold Eidlitz, Henry Hobson Richardson, Isaac Perry, and Frederick Law Olmstead, none of whom could have envisioned dozens of electrified sport utility vehicles with four-wheel drive careening down the marble floors and wood-paneled hallways of their grand design. That may be because the Capitol building was completed in 1881, back before the days of the internal combustion engine. “Those old fogies lacked vision, which is why nobody talks about them anymore,” remarked Ms. McQuackenbush. “Now, Governor Cuomo, that is a man with true vision. Who else could have conceived of a way to get those stuffy old Senate and Assembly chambers aired out with some good old-fashioned off-road racing?”
The rally course will begin at a ramp leading to the security entrance at the main level. A huge statue of Chester Alan Arthur, the nation’s 21st president and a former New York governor, had to be moved from a place of prominence. This was not an easy task since Old Chet was known as a man of considerable girth, not to mention one of the few leaders in the nation’s history capable of pulling off the mutton-chop facial hair look. The drivers will then make an immediate right turn up the first set of marble staircases known as the Eastern Staircase before exiting onto the second floor to pass by the Secretary of State’s office. Office workers have been warned to remain at their desks during rally day to avoid any unfortunate collisions. They will then proceed into the Red Room, where Governor Cuomo gives his daily press briefings. The Governor hopes to be on hand to greet the drivers as they enter the Red Room under its finely coffered ceilings, but much depends on his very busy schedule.
After leaving the Red Room, the drivers will proceed onto the floors of the Assembly and Senate chambers. Workers have put down rubberized flooring to protect the antique carpeting in both houses of the New York State Legislature. This may be the most exciting part of the rally, as a select number of lucky fans will be able to watch the rally from the viewing galleries of the Senate and Assembly chambers. To make it more exciting, a decision was reached to keep the gorgeous oak and mahogany desks in the chambers for the rally, with a requirement that each racer has to make a slalom circuit around the aisles to represent how legislation in Albany usually goes round and round and ends up in a mess of a collision.
After exiting the chambers, each driver will proceed to the older Grand Western Staircase. This may be the most exciting part of the course, as it involves a series of switchbacks and narrow turns under a beautiful domed ceiling, with a look that may remind one of a painting by Escher. We expect that this may be the part of the rally where we see the greatest number of collisions, but have no fear as New York State should have sufficient insurance to cover all the vehicles, drivers, and priceless works of art contained in the part of the Capitol. A decision has not yet been reached as to how many circuits of the course will be involved in this race. It may all depend on how many drivers can survive the Grand Western Staircase.
The Vehicles for the Rally
You may remember that a few years ago, Albany attempted to hold a motocross inside The Egg, its famous curved cultural performing arts center. The plan was to use the building’s interior concrete curves to naturally bank the motorcyclists’ riding. However, during warm-ups, a number of motorcyclists and their crews were overcome by fumes as no one involved in the event thought to check for proper ventilation. To get around that, this new rally will only allow clean electric vehicles to be driven during the race. “These vehicles will be 100% emissions-free,” pointed out Albany car dealer Biff Bofferson. “This will not only make pit stops unnecessary, but it will also allow everyone inside the Capitol to continue to go about his or her business without being disturbed by exhaust smells from rally cars.”
The rally is intended as a showcase for all the latest fully electric vehicles on the market, and the fans of electricity and four-wheel drive will not be disappointed. “We really sourced some goods,” remarked Ms. McQuackenbush. “There are sure to be plenty of Chevy Bolt EVs and Tesla Model Xs entered into the race. Personally, I think it may come down to a driver in either a Ford Mustang Mach-E or the new Hummer EV. Those Hummer EVs are really scary. I know if I were in a Bolt or a Tesla, I’d get out of the way of the driver in the Hummer. He’d squash me on one of those hairpin turns on the Great Western Staircase!”
Not all of the entries will be from the United States. BMW is expected to enter an iX3 into the race, with Honda planning to add off-road accessories to a Clarity Fuel Cell. South Korea should be well represented as well, with a Hyundai Kona electric and a Kia Niro EV among the early entrants. “The best part is that these EVs are so quiet, nobody will hear them coming!” stated Mr. Bofferson. “Imagine some staffer’s surprise when she turns around on the Eastern Staircase to see some nut job in a Hummer EV bearing down on her! Now, that’s what I call entertainment!”
Strong Support for the Rally Among Capitol Staff
Despite the inherent risks in working inside of an off-road racetrack, most of the staffers in Albany seemed excited to be part of this first indoor EV Rally. “This place is so dreadfully dull,” opined Seymour Snozzberries, a longtime guard at the New York State Capitol. “You’d think this would be an exciting place to work, but it isn’t. Our legislature is only in session for a few months each spring. After that, the only people here are tour groups with bored high school students being led by their noses through this stuffy old building. Seriously, who cares about Boss Tweed and Nelson Rockefeller? Besides, I’d rather see Hummers and Mustangs than a bunch of obnoxious snot-nosed kids. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.”
Echoing Snozzberries’s words is Reginald Pusillanimy, who works in the Attorney General’s office, located near the Eastern Staircase. “I am so excited for this race. We will finally get to see something other than white-collar criminals and tourists who got lost looking for a bathroom. This will give this old place some much-needed excitement. Besides, these 100-year-old granite walls have stood up to years of punishing Albany winters. What’s a few four-wheel drive vehicles compared to a blizzard?”
However, not all the staffers sound thrilled about the rally. Rhonda Meeskite, who works in the Capitol gift shop, argued, “this is all just a distraction from the important task of government, which is making sure that young children become civically oriented and remember to buy plenty of postcards before they leave.” Of course, Ms. Meeskite may be worried that the racers will do damage to some of the more delicate items, as, like all tours held there, the New York State Capitol EV Road Rally will exit through the gift shop.