The World Championship Series returns for two stops in Fort Worth, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.
You’re seated in the crowded bleachers of a massive speedway, basking in the sun beneath a brilliant blue sky. Race days don’t get much better than this. Off in the distance, the drone of an engine reverberates through the stadium. Conversations between the spectators around you end abruptly as their attention turns to the pending action.
Within seconds, the thundering machine comes screaming into the race track at speeds in excess of 200 mph. As it approaches a pylon, the vehicle looks to be carrying far too much speed to make the turn. At the last millisecond, the sleek form pivots around the pylon with inches to spare, at a velocity and intensity that defies the laws of apple-munching Newton. Compounding the feat is the fact that the driver of the craft is 50 feet up in the air.
This is the Red Bull Air Race.
After a three-year hiatus, the seven-race World Championship Series returns to the U.S. in 2014 for two rounds of fierce aeronautics. Twelve of the world's finest pilots will compete in Fort Worth at the Texas Motor Speedway on September 6-7 and in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 11-12.
“I’m excited that there will be two races in the U.S., and I’m a native Texan – from Corpus Christi – so it’s going to be cool racing in my home state, for sure,” said Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss. “We’ll be racing in the motor speedways in the two stops in the United States – Texas and Las Vegas. We did that previously in Germany, and it’s a really cool perspective from a spectator standpoint, because you’re actually looking down on the airplanes as they race through the gates.”
Flying between 50 and 80 feet above ground, the high-performance airplanes fly at speeds of up to 230 mph, making the air races one of the fastest motorsports on the planet. This racing is not all about speed, however. The pilots weave their aircrafts around an incredibly technical obstacle course marked by giant Air Gate pylons. Think threading the needle, only with a set of propellers.
Speaking of, for 2014, the propellers and engines have been standardized for all pilots. For safety, the lightweight nylon material used in the pylons has been made to more easily burst, and their heights have been raised to 80 feet. The high-G 270-degree turn has been removed and the modus and rules have also been tightened to help prevent any pilots from exceeding the set limits.
Another addition to the upcoming season is the Challengers Cup. This new feeder series will give up-and-coming pilots the opportunity to race the day before the Red Bull Air Race. There will also be several training camps for the pilots during the season, allowing them to hone their skills.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship heads back to the skies beginning in February 2014 and will span six countries across three continents. All seven races will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
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