Red Bull Air Races Take Las Vegas By Storm, Literally
Red Bull has a flair for the obscure. They sponsor everything from F1 to satellite jumping. Another sport you may not have heard of is air racing. Similar to F1 and NASCAR in a lot of ways, Red Bull’s Air Race series are races between highly regulated racing planes that have to go through a track as quickly as they can.
Of course, there are plenty of other rules involved, including a plethora of safety regulations that they had to update over the last four years while the entire sport was put on hiatus within the United States. They have been going since 2005 but took a break in the US from 2010 until this year to bring their safety regulations up to FAA standards. This is the first year that the air races were brought to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with plans to come back at least for the next 2 years.
With all of that said, this weekend’s air race was very cool and exciting. It was a two-day event, with the Masters class practice trials and qualifying laps, as well as the Challengers cup taking place on Saturday and the Master’s class finals were to take place on Sunday with other devilish air sports taking place in between.
Saturday Air Races
Everything pretty much went according to plan on Saturday, with all of the trials taking place, as well as determining a winner to the Challenger cup. The Challenger class is akin to the Nationwide series in NASCAR, where the vehicles are a little different and the racers aren’t really as good as those in the Masters. The Challenger cup racers fly 2 seat planes, which makes them heavier and their times will naturally be a little higher.
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There were plenty of cool things going on in addition to the Challenger cup, but those were the only official races that were conducted on Saturday. The order of completions was as follows:
As you can see, there was only a 1.5 second split between the first place racer, Halim Othman of Malasia and the last place racer, Francois Le Vot of France, but the difference meant the difference between who would and wouldn’t advance to the race in Austria later this month.
I shot a handful of videos to capture my experience at the race over the weekend, but nothing really beats being there in person in the sweltering heat of the desert.
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In addition to the air races, there were a lot of other things going on to entertain the fans including Chuck Aaron. Chuck is the only civilian helicopter pilot licensed to do helicopter acrobatics in the entire United States. For good reason, too, because helicopters are already defying physics by flying, turning upside-down is just mocking the laws of the universe.
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Sunday Air Races
Sunday was meant to be the day that the Masters Class would have their championship races. There would be a group of 12, which would be cut to a group of 8, which would be cut to a group of 4 and then a winner would be determined.
However, the weather on Sunday wasn’t necessarily permitting. With winds reaching nearly 30 MPH, event directors were forced to cancel the remainder of the races after the first 11 of the group of 12 had done their preliminary laps.
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Unfortunately this meant that the qualifying laps from the night before would be the rankings that each racer would be awarded for the Master class series in Las Vegas. This might not mean a lot to us as fans, but for the racers, it could mean a huge difference in points rankings with the season drawing close to its end. The following is the rankings from the qualifying laps:
Red Bull’s Air Race event this weekend may have been cut short, but it was still a fantastic way to spend my weekend. Check out their schedule to see if the Air Race will be making its way to your neighborhood or you can be like me and make it a destination, but you’ll probably have to wait until next year.