This weekend, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host its final major racing event of 2016. The only part of the racing surface that will be utilized is Hulman Blvd, which has been converted into an official runway. The Red Bull Air Race is ready to take center stage, in what will be the second-to-last race of the 2016 season. A champion will be crowned next weekend, but all of the buzz is about this weekend in the Racing Capital of the World.
The Red Bull Air Race was created in 2003, and has held more than 65 races. The world’s best pilots strap into the fastest, most agile lightweight racing places, and slice their way through 82-foot high air-filled pylons. Using a combination of speed and precision, the pilots will hit speeds of more than 230 mph, pulling almost 10 Gs in the sky.
The inaugural event will take place at the north end of the speedway, where fans can enter through Gates 9 and 10 only. The main entrance on 16th street will not be open. Paid parking will be available in Lots 1A, 1B, North 40, and Lot 8. Gates will open at 10 AM on Saturday and Sunday. The graphic below further demonstrates the course that will be used.
Pilots will begin from a standing start, taking off from the runway on Hulman Blvd. They will make three laps around the course, and those with the fastest times will advance in the competition. First is the Round of 14, then the Round of 8, and then the Final 4. The final round with the four pilots is fairly simple. The fastest of the four is the winner.
Much like the Verizon IndyCar Series this season, the Red Bull Air Race championship comes down to two drivers. Matthias Dolderer (Germany) leads the standings, and could clinch his first title with a win on Sunday. Matt Hall (Australia) is on his heels, and could still win the championship in two weeks, in the final race at Las Vegas.
Aviation machines are no stranger to IMS. In June of 1910, the speedway held an Aviation Show, which lasted for six days. Speedway President Carl Fisher was fascinated with aviation and technology. During this event, the Wright brothers made an appearance, as their pilot Walter Brookins took to the sky and set a world altitude record. Orville Wright had a pipe and stretched silk biplane that he and Fisher flew on a few occasions.
You can purchase tickets to the event, which includes reserved seating and general admission. You can also purchase a Hangar Viewing Area Pass to get a better view of the race planes, or a Checkered Flag Club Package that includes suites with private restrooms, an open buffet, complimentary drinks, and so much more. Kids 12 and under are free with an adult who purchases a general admission ticket.
There are two classes of planes that will race. Challenger Class qualifying begins at 3:20 PM on Saturday, with the bigger Master Class qualifying set to start at 4 PM. Challenger Cup races start at Noon on Sunday, with the Master Class races beginning at 1 PM on Sunday. You can view the full schedule here for both days.
In addition to the planes, there are many side acts that will be sure to entertain the masses. After all, it is a Red Bull event. There is a Stunt Bike show, Slackline Performances, BMX Bike Trials, Moto Trials, and much more on display. There will be plenty of activities for the kids, as it promises to be a fantastic event for the entire family.