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World's Best Pilots Taking On Challenge of Tricky Red Bull Air Race Course at IMS

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval provides one of the most daunting challenges for IndyCar and NASCAR teams, with its long straightaways and four distinct corners banked at a just 9 degrees.

It will be no different in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship event Oct. 6-7 at the Racing Capital of the World. The course over the IMS infield will provide a stern challenge to the world’s best aerobatic pilots and teams.

Each practice run, qualifying run and race at IMS will consist of three laps through a course over the marked by 82-foot-tall inflatable gates called Air Pylons. The first two laps consist of seven gates each. The final lap consists of five gates, for a total of 19 gates in each race.

Pilots compete one at a time on the course, against the clock. A Vertical Turn Maneuver (VTM) is a highlight of the first two laps, as pilots dramatically climb and dive back into the course at the end of each of the first two laps, often at forces 10 times that of gravity.

Red Bull Air Race Course Map

Pilots are matched up for the initial Master Class Round of 14 on Sunday afternoon for the race based on their times in qualifying Saturday. Fastest qualifier against slowest, No. 2 vs. No. 13, etc.

The seven winners of the initial Round of 14 – and the quickest loser – advance to the Round of 8. The field is reseeded by times in the Round of 14 for matchups to reduce the field to the Final 4. The slowest of the Final 4 qualifiers flies first, with the quickest flying last. The quickest pilot in the Final 4 is the event winner.

Pilots are assessed time penalties for various infractions, such as excessive entry speed into the course, excessive G forces during the Vertical Turn Maneuver, non-level flying through gates, hitting an Air Pylon, insufficient smoke trailing from the plane, etc.

Planes reach speeds of 200 mph while flying just 50 to 60 feet off the ground through the IMS course in a spectacle of speed and skill.

Visit to buy tickets or for more information about the Red Bull Air Race.

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