A new race is coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—one that will be staged in the air, not on the track.
IMS and Red Bull announced Wednesday morning that a Red Bull air race will be held at the Indianapolis venue Oct. 2, 2016.
“In 2016, as we celebrate the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, it’s fitting that the world’s best pilots will gather at IMS for a breathtaking display of competition and innovation that will honor the legacies of IMS founder Carl Fisher, the Wright brothers and their fellow aviation pioneers,” IMS President Doug Boles said in a statement.
The race will be the seventh event on the eight-race schedule for the Red Bull Air Race World Championships. The series' only other U.S. race is in Las Vegas. The other races are in the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Hungary, Great Britain, Japan and Germany.
The objective for competitors is to navigate an aerial racetrack featuring air-filled pylons in the fastest possible time while incurring as few penalties as possible. Only one pilot races at a time. Planes reach speeds of nearly 230 mph.
Competitors in the IMS race will train Sept. 29-30, qualify on Oct. 1 and race on Oct. 2.
IMS officials have considered adding an air race for years, as part of their strategy of bringing new events to the venue. A spokeswoman for the Red Bull Air Race World Championships told IBJ in 2007 that “Indianapolis is in our sights, to say the least. The city’s deep motorsports roots and a historical backdrop like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway make it a fantastic location.”
IMS officials announced in September that another event, the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix motorcycle race, will not return in 2016 after an eight-year run. The event had struggled to draw fans, in part because of a dearth of top American competitors.
“The timing is right to pursue other opportunities that drive greater revenue for the Speedway and the central Indiana economy,” Boles said at the time.