Air race circuit still eyes Indy

June 5, 2008
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redairraceThe Detroit Free-Press reported that fans watching last weekend’s Red Bull Air Race World Series along the Detroit River got a “thrill-chill.”

The crowd size assembled along the river banks might have thrilled Indianapolis Motor Speedway event promoters, who said last year they were considering bringing the unique air race to the Speedway as part of the track’s centennial celebration.

Red Bull Air Race officials reported that 170,000 paid to attend the two-day event, while the Free-Press reported another 500,000 or so crammed every square inch of the river bank on the Detroit and Canada sides to watch the sky-bound race unpaid. Crowd estimates came from the Detroit Police Department, Windsor Police Department and General Motors Security officials, said Red Bull Communications Manager Maddy Stephens.

“It was amazing,” Stephens said. “It shows there is a Midwest audience.”

The inaugural Detroit race followed the first U.S. stop of the 2008 series in San Diego on May 3 and 4, where it returned for a second year with 120,000 spectators. The Red Bull Air Race World Series has been extremely popular for several years in places like Rio de Janeiro and other markets worldwide. It is just taking off in the U.S.

The 5-year-old airplane racing circuit is hyped for combining the intrigue of a high-wire circus act, thrills of an alpine ski race, and cutting-edge technology of Formula One auto racing.  

IMS officials in February tabled the idea of hosting an air race so it could focus on the debut of the MotoGP motorcycle race this fall, the possible return of a Formula One race, and special projects surrounding its 2009 centennial. The Speedway’s centennial celebrations will extend through 2011.

Red Bull still has interest in the Indianapolis market, Stephens said, and IMS officials haven’t totally ruled it out. The crowds in Detroit certainly didn’t dampen local interest.
  • I think that this would be another chance for Indy to shine. It would be another great Sporting event for the city and the exposure for us would just remind people that we are a great international sports city. Think of another annual great city revenue event. With NCAA events, NBA, NFL, Indy 500, Brickyard 400, MOTO GP, Possible return of Formula 1, and now this Air race! Living in Italy at the moment, but being a lifelong Indy resident, I must say that events such as this is what makes us in Indy Internationally visible to the average person over here.
  • As long as we bring only the premier events to IMS, I am happy with it. But the question would be, would the track provide enough seating with good views of the race? Most of the west main straight stands are covered, and I know it is tough to watch the flyover at races from some of the stands.

    Have they shown a plan for how the course would look? Would it make sense to have it over the White River which opens up a lot more viewing area?
  • Excellent point Indyman. I will say that the thing that would make this an interesting event is that it could be viewed from lots of places. I think the real important thing is the exposure that Indy would get from the airing of this unique race. I think it is also really neat that your average person here in Indy could also view the race in some capacity from many different areas to include White River State park amongst others. I think this has the potential to again showcase our fine city to the rest of the world and I for one fully support that! Indyman, I do agree with you on one point though.., they would have to do something about the covering. But what would and could you really do? That covering is a neccessity on some of the races at the track where the sun is just bearing down on you. Something to consider and look at, but I think bringing the event to Indy is still a win-win thing for us!

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