Texas Motor Speedway Schedules A Wing-Ding
By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas – Texas Motor Speedway’s “No Limits Wild Asphalt Circus” schedule will reach unprecedented heights when the Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes to the North Texas skies on Sept. 6-7, 2014.
TMS will join sister Speedway Motorsports Inc. facility Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the only American venues on a seven-race schedule booked for six countries and three continents following a three-year hiatus. LVMS will play host to the series on Oct. 11-12, 2014.
“We like doing things no one expects,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said in a release. “I think the thing that will be so appealing to motorsports fans and gearheads is that this is a real competition. Red Bull Air Race is truly a head-to-head, nose-to-nose competition on the clock, where these pilots are running through the Air Gates to see who can turn in the best time.”
The stops at Texas Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway will mark a departure for the series, which in the past conducted events either above water or undeveloped land. Geographically, both racetracks are located in proximity to airplane-centric facilities – the regional Alliance Airport just south of TMS and Nellis Air Force Base basically across the highway from LVMS.
“We tend to draw people who love high-performance vehicles, and certainly these airplanes are high-performance vehicles,” said Chris Powell, president/general manager of LVMS. “Yes, it’s a bit of a new wrinkle for us at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to be staging air racing, but fans who love performance are very much going to love watching these planes race.”
Billed as “the world’s fastest motorsport,” the series will feature three former world champions in a 12-pilot field following a three-year break to reorganize and improve safety. Created in 2003, Red Bull Air Race has been watched by millions of fans at 50 races, with competitors flying high-performance airplanes between 50 and 80-feet above the ground while navigating a challenging obstacle course of Air Gate pylons at speeds of up to 230 mph. Fans will be able to watch the entire seven-race 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
“We’re delighted to announce that the new Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be launched on February 28th in Abu Dhabi (UAE),” Erich Wolf, CEO Red Bull Air Race GmbH, said during a news conference in Malaysia. “The Red Bull Air Race is one of the most exciting sports the world has ever seen. We’ve all worked very hard over the last three years fine-tuning some of the safety aspects and bringing the sport to a new level. We never took our eye off the target and neither have these fantastic pilots or the great fans around the world. We can’t wait to get back up in the air in February 2014.”
A number of technical improvements will be in-place to increase safety next year, including standard engines and propellers for all pilots, changes to the lightweight nylon pylon material (making it easier for them to burst apart if clipped by plane wings) and raising the height of the pylons the pilots pass through from 65-feet to 80-feet. The high-G 270-degree “Quatro” turn through a set of four pylons used in previous years has been eliminated due to the exceedingly high G-force it exerted on the planes and pilots. The modus and rules also have been tightened to help prevent any pilots from exceeding set limits.
Additionally, a new Challengers Cup competition will be introduced in 2014. This stepping-stone competition will give new pilots valuable experience racing under less pressure on the day before the Red Bull Air Race. Several training camps will be available during the season for new pilots to hone their skills.
The first U.S. event on the Red Bull Air Race schedule took place in Reno, Nev., in 2004. Since then, the series has conducted nine races in the U.S., with stops in San Francisco, San Diego, Monument Valley, Utah, Detroit and New York.
“I’m excited that there will be two races in the U.S.; I’m a native Texan – from Corpus Christi – so it’s going to be cool racing in my home state, for sure,” said Kirby Chambliss, Red Bull Air Race world champion in 2004 and 2006. “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.”
Reigning world champion Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain, who won the last two championships in 2009 and 2010, will be looking for an unprecedented third consecutive title in 2014. He will be competing against former champ Chambliss as well as 2008 champion Hannes Arch of Austria. Pilots in the field will include Nigel Lamb (GBR), Matt Hall (AUS), Peter Besenyei (HUN), Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), Michael Goulian (USA), Matthias Dolderer (GER), Yoshi Muroya (JPN), Pete McLeod (CAN) and Martin Sonka (CZE).
The 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship schedule
1. Abu Dhabi (UAE), Feb. 28 – March 1
2. Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya (MAS), May 17 – 18
3. Gdynia (POL), July 26 – 27
4. Ascot (GBR), Aug. 16 -17
5. Fort Worth (Texas), Sept. 6 – 7
6. Las Vegas (Nev.), Oct. 11 – 12
7. Kunshan (CHN), Nov. 1 – 2No Comment