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Trio of Americans Fired Up for Weekend at IMS

With the Red Bull Air Race field coming through the United States for the final two races of the 2016 calendar, it takes on special meaning for three pilots. 

For American pilots Kirby Chambliss and Michael Goulian, as well as Challenger Class participant Kevin Coleman, it’s good to be home. 

This weekend also takes on a bit more meaning as the series’ first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

“Indy’s such a cool place because of the history in racing,” said Chambliss, a two-time champion in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. “This is all about racing, and that’s what we’re doing here. I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

While Chambliss – a native of Corpus Chrsti, Texas – enjoys being home, the focus is on the race. He enters the weekend third in Master Class world championship points. 

“As an American, people ask me, ‘do you like winning in the States?’ I like winning everywhere,” Chambliss said. “It is also special if you win in the States, and it’s also a double-edged sword. There’s more attention on you. That’s good in some respects, but it’s also having other people pull on you more. You’ve got to be able to push that away and say ‘I’ve got to do my job now.’ It’s time to go to work and time to win.” 

This weekend is the penultimate race of the 2016 season. The series will remain in the United States for the finale of its eight-race campaign, which will take place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 15-16. 

Boston native Michael Goulian is trying to focus specifically on the event until after Sunday’s race, when he can enjoy the company of family and friends.  

“You have to treat it like any other race,” Goulian said. “The routine stays the same. In any sport your mind is as much of a factor as your body. So we have tons of friends and family here and I told my wife I will be happy to see everybody Sunday night, but until Sunday night it’s just another race, another day. We get up in the morning and come here and do our analysis and flying like we have done before.” 

For the teams, the logistics are also substantial, as the previous six races hopscotch Asia and Europe. Pilots will fly their race plans between the European races, but must ship them across the Atlantic Ocean to come to the final two races in the United States. 

“We do it eight times a year and except for the two races in the States, we are in different countries. So we are all over the world. There is a lot involved from shipping the airplane around, getting the airplane together once there and in some cases, we fly the airplane between races,” said Pablo Branco, the team manager for Goulian’s plane.  

“In the European races the airplane is repositioned for flying, and you have all the travel arrangements for the team and with all of that we are also trying to develop the airplane. So, there are projects happening at home and engineering, parts being built somewhere on the globe, and then people to install them and people to test fly them and collect data and then fly it in the race.” 

Coleman is the series rookie, competing in the Challenger Class – which he described as the series’ version of Indy Lights. The Louisiana native has enjoyed being not just home, but at a venue with Indianapolis’ racing history. 

“It is the coolest thing ever,” For me this is a special place. It’s magical. The prestige behind it, the people who have won here in all of the different motorsports series that have been here.” 

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