Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX – The Red Bull air race, billed as the fastest motor sport series in the world, took off at Texas Motor Speedway on September 26th and 27th. Pilots from all over the world competed in high flying maneuvering through a series of 80 foot pylons with speeds topping 200 knots (230 mph). Completing the course in under one minute, pilots pull up to 10 G’s while trying to maintain the shortest path with the least amount of penalties.
Like other motor sport racing series, the teams competing in the Red Bull Air Race must conform to specific weight requirements. Before and after each race, the plane and pilot are weighed and must have a minimum weight of 696 kg (1,534 lbs), roughly the same as a Formula One car. Each plane is equipped with a 300 hp propeller-driven engine built for speed and maneuverability. With this much horse power, pulling up and into a vertical orientation is effortless for the plane, but strenuous on the pilot. Even today’s modern jet fighters don’t pull as many G’s as the Red Bull pilots do in less than a minute.
Although counted as a penalty in the race, many of the spectators hope to see a plane miss the mark and strike through a pylon, adding to the excitement of the competition. After a pylon collision the crew, known as Airgators, repair and reinflate the 80 foot cones at an incredible speed of under two minutes.
Texas native Kirby Chambliss, one of only two Americans to win the championship, fell short of victory at TMS. In the final four, it was a close match between Matt Hall, former Australian Top Gun pilot and Paul Bonhomme, two time champion from the UK and Japan’s Yoshi Muroya followed by Czech pilot Martin Sonka. It was a perfect run for Bonhomme with a track speed of 55.285 seconds, taking the lead by less than one second over Matt Hall. Now it’s on to the showdown in Las Vegas on October 17-18 for the final championship race.
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