News & Multimedia

Red Bull Air Race Pilots Train in Air, on Ground for Stresses of Competition

Pilots in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship will fly in race heats that usually last just more than a minute Oct. 14-15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So one might think maybe fitness ranks lower on the priority list for these athletes than drivers in NASCAR or INDYCAR, who compete in races at IMS lasting two to three hours or longer.

Think again.

Even though the races are short, there’s one recurring, startling statistic that keeps Red Bull Air Race World Championship pilots in training year-round to prepare for a weekend of aggressive, intense air racing – 10 G’s.

10Gs RBAR

That’s the maximum force pilots experience during races, 10 times the force of gravity. For comparison, maximum forces acting on the bodies of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers are about 6 G’s. The Space Shuttle reached only 3 G’s during its ascent into orbit. A roller coaster ride tops out around 4 G’s.

Fourteen Master Class and six Challenger Class pilots will fly on a course above the IMS oval infield. Planes race against the clock at low altitude while exceeding 200 mph, navigating a low-level slalom track marked by 82-foot-high, air-filled pylons called Air Gates.

Pilots turn as quickly and efficiently as possible without pulling more than 10 G’s in the vertical turn maneuver before flying toward the next gate. Penalties are assessed for hitting the Air Gates, for speed and altitude violations or for not flying in the proper formation through certain Air Gates. The quickest pilot against the clock in each round wins.

“We’re pulling 10 Gs in every turn, 10 times your body weight,” American Challenger Class pilot Kevin Coleman said. “I think the race in Indy, the two laps will be a little over a minute, but in a minute, you got out of that plane, and it feels like you ran 5 miles. You’re completely tired. It’s definitely a physical thing when you’re in an airplane.”

Coleman, who employs a fitness trainer, and nearly all of his fellow pilots work out regularly to build their endurance and strength. Particular attention is paid to the neck and back, which bear much of the stresses of rapid changes of direction at more than 200 mph.

All Red Bull Air Race pilots also have access to treatment from series physiotherapist Daniel Rose at each race, if needed.

There’s also another way Red Bull Air Race World Championship pilots build fitness and endurance – by flying as much as possible. Just like race car drivers, seat time trains the body for the rigors of competition.

“You have to fly a lot,” two-time Red Bull Air Race World Champion Kirby Chambliss said. “If I’m out of the airplane for more than a week, my G tolerance goes way down. I have to have that G tolerance.

“We’ve got four of these airplanes, so I jump in one and go out and run it around to get some G’s, and that’s what gets my G tolerance up.”

Coleman also trains his depth perception and reaction timing in a simulator. But like Chambliss, he said flying prepares pilots the best for racing.

“The sim helps, but there’s no substitute for being in a plane,” Coleman said. “It’s the same with drivers. The sim helps, but being in the race car on the track is what helps the most.”

World champions in both classes will be crowned at IMS from a field featuring pilots from all over the world, including Americans Chambliss, Coleman and Michael Goulian. Two-time series world champion Chambliss is fourth in the tight Master Class standings with 52 points, 11 behind leader Sonka of the Czech Republic.

Visit IMS.com to buy tickets or for more information on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. An interactive Fan Guide for the event also is available at www.ims.com/RBARFanGuide.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
RBAR Pilot Training
 
Red Bull Air Race Pilots Train in Air, on Ground for Stresses of Competition
Pilots in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship will fly in race heats that usually last just more than a minute Oct. 14-15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So one might think maybe fitness ranks lower on the priority list for these athletes than drivers in NASCAR or INDYCAR, who compete in races at IMS lasting two to three hours or longer. Think again.
Read More
Related Media
Takuma Sato Marmom Wasp
 
Sato Revels in Indianapolis 500 History with Marmon Wasp
On the eve of seeing his likeness unveiled on the Borg-Warner Trophy as the latest Indianapolis 500 winner, Takuma Sato had the opportunity to sit where it all began.
Read More
Kyle Kaiser
 
Kaiser, Juncos Racing Reveal Four-Race Verizon IndyCar Series Plan for 2018
Kyle Kaiser will remain in familiar surroundings when he makes his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in 2018. Juncos Racing, the team for which Kaiser has driven the past four years as he climbed the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder, announced today that it will field the reigning Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion for four Verizon IndyCar Series races next season.
Read More
Robert Wickens
 
Wickens Joins Hinchcliffe at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for 2018 IndyCar Season
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced its lineup for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Oakville, Ontario native James Hinchcliffe has renewed his contract with the Indianapolis-based team in a multi-year extension, and the 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year’s teammate will be countryman and friend Robert Wickens, a native of Guelph. The duo marks the first all-Canadian lineup in North American open-wheel racing since 2004 (Champ Car; Forsythe Racing: Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier).
Read More
Takuma Sato
 
Sato Shines with Gratitude during Unveiling of Likeness on Borg-Warner Trophy
Sato repeated what he had told sculptor Will Behrends when examining a clay likeness during a visit to the artist’s workshop in Tryon, N.C.: “He’s actually a better guy.” It’s the 28th likeness Behrends has sculpted.
Read More
Martin Sonka
 
Sonka Keeps Cool As World Championship Showdown Looms on Race Day
Martin Sonka doesn’t even want to think about the obvious, let alone discuss it. But there’s only so much reality he can block out. Sonka, the Master Class points-leading pilot from the Czech Republic, can claim his first World Championship with a victory in the Red Bull Air Race on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 2,798
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact IMS Sales Department at (317) 492-8739 or email at hospitalitysales@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day: https://t.co/yKQ6Db3YRK
May 21