Dressed for the occasion in his own bespoke race suit and helmet, Sir Richard Branson – who last week was also confirmed as the team’s official reserve driver – began by unveiling the team’s all-electric single-seater race car, taking centre-stage outside the building’s main entrance on Fifth Avenue.

For the prestigious lighting ceremony, he was joined by John Kessler, President and COO of Empire State Realty Trust and capped the event with a visit to the Empire State Building’s world-famous 86th floor observatory.

“Thank you to the Empire State Building for welcoming the Formula E racing series to New York City, with its beautiful LED lit towers,” said the Virgin founder, who now joins the likes of David Beckham and Mariah Carey in performing such ceremonies. “Just as the Empire State Building remains a leader in energy efficiency, the many teams like Virgin Racing and fans of the Formula E series are committed to a brighter and more sustainable future.”

John Kessler said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Richard Branson, Formula E and the Virgin Racing team here today. Since its completion, the Empire State Building has long been an icon of innovation and today is one of the most energy efficient buildings of any age. We’re delighted to partner with Formula E and Virgin Racing to highlight how innovation and adaptation in open wheel racing can bring it to the future, just as we have done here at the World’s Most Famous Building.”

Virgin Racing, one of founding teams in the fast-growing all-electric race series, has been backed by Sir Richard Branson from the outset and is now one of the leading outfits in Formula E, which hosts its first ever New York race this weekend (July 15 and 16) in Brooklyn.