While the Red Bull NASCAR team cars were practicing on the road course of Infineon Raceway, the Red Bull Air Race, billing itself as the fastest motor sport in the world, was qualifying at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Watching the time trials were just like watching NASCAR race cars take flight.
There may be distinct left and right turns on the road course at Sonoma, but here is the road course that the Red Bull air racers must negotiate as they make their qualifying runs.
As with any NASCAR race, the Red Bull Air Race began with a patriotic parade in the air. This sky jumper fell from the sky and landed smack dab in Liberty State Park, much to the delight of the crowd.
As another added attraction to the pre-race activities, the Red Bull helicopter did some stunts that no chopper was ever meant to do, flying almost straight up in the air and falling in death-defying spirals.
NASCAR has its own version of their racing rule book and so does the Red Bull Air Race.
While NASCAR issues penalties a day or two after the race, the Red Bull Air Racers know immediately if they have violated any of the rules. The air horn sounds and the penalty is immediately assessed. In qualifying, seconds are added to the time trial, which can be most costly as far as starting position. Championship points are actually awarded for the top qualifier, usually the one that flies fastest and without any penalty.
The Air Racers have their own version of a pit crew. This group spends hours on the water, just waiting to repair any of the pylons that happen to be clipped by the air craft. They are amazingly fast and fleet on their feet, repairing and reinstating the pylons in a matter of minutes.
Just like in NASCAR, there are fans galore in the grandstands to watch the qualifying runs of their favorite pilots. These fans have the added bonus of having the New York skyline in the background as they watch the racing.
It may not be Kenny Wallace or Jimmy Spencer, but the Red Bull Air Racing event has their own version of the "Speed Stage."
While in NASCAR, all of the drivers are called to their cars, the pilots are called to their hangers and into the cockpits of their planes. This driver takes a sip of water before taking off for his qualifying run. Each pilot gets the call that the course is ready and they are given the command to "smoke on," turning on the smoke that trails from his plane as he executes the course.
One of the first planes takes to the course for his qualifying run. Smoke on!
The next plane of the 12 qualifiers takes to the track for his time trial run.
Just as at the road course in Sonoma, these Red Bull air racers have to negotiate the chicane.
While NASCAR may have the cute Sprint Cup girls, these Red Bull girls meet and greet all. These girls bade fans goodbye as they exited the course after the time trials were completed.