The specially designed aerial racetracks used in the Red Bull Air Race are unlike any other. The high-speed, low-altitude sport can play out over water, such as at the beautiful Corniche in Abu Dhabi, or land, such as at the world-renowned EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany. Regardless, the world's fastest motorsport series always takes place at the most breath-taking locations on the planet.
As many of the stops on the World Championship calendar are classed as exotic, pilots often have to battle against the elements, with extreme heats, shifting winds and harsh storms always a possibility. As a result, no two Red Bull Air Races are ever the same.
On average, the racetracks measure approximately 5km in length and are marked by race-bespoke Air Gates. The unique inflatable pylons, which form the Air Gates and define the racetrack, were first developed in 2002 and have evolved year-on-year into the sophisticated design currently used.
The Air Gates play a vital role in the Red Bull Air Race, but must also fulfil complex and contradictory demands. They have to be delicate enough to burst the instant they are touched by an aircraft but sturdy enough to remain stationary in all weather conditions, including stormy weather and strong winds.
The early cylindrical pylons fulfilled the first criteria – and to this date have been advanced through 30 rounds of improvements to make them even easier to tear apart – but proved to be too unstable in the wind. The answer to this issue came in 2009, when powerful electrical, petrol-powered blowers were installed at the base of the pylons to allow a perfect amount of airflow and pressure to be maintained within. This meant that the Air Gates could remain steady even in windy conditions.
Since 2004, the pylons were of a cone-shaped design and stood 20 metres (65ft) high. From 2014 however, the height has been increased to 25 metres (82ft), and the shape has been revised to give the pylons a straight inner edge, creating a perfect rectangular flight window between the Air Gates.
The Air Race competes over two days Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th August
Tickets start from £30 and upgrades and hospitality is available