Red Bull Air Race Takes Flight for Fox Sports
July 16, 2008 1:11 PM
Rarely is a new sport able to take off without difficulty, but that’s exactly what the Red Bull Air Race World Series has accomplished. With all new aircraft, uniforms and locations, season two of the air competition on Fox Sports debuted this week and already figures to transform the dimensions of motorsport racing.
The series was watched by more than 4.5 million people last year in season one on the outlet, which saw the world’s top pilots race at speeds up to 250 mph. Red Bull conceived of the sport in 2001.
This season, 12 pilots will battle it out on 10 courses around the world, including San Diego, Budapest, Abu Dhabi, Stockholm, London and Perth.
Check out the video preview of the new season here, complete with some of the innovative technology being used to capture the competition.
In a nutshell, the race featured pilots completing obstacle courses, where they must pass though air gates in the fastest possible time as well as in the correct position. The pilot who accumulates the most points at the end of the season is declared champion. Calling the action is Mike Buchan, Mike Goldberg and Alan Preston.
I spoke with executive producer Andrew Stephan about the changes and the future of the sport.
Pressbox: With season two under way on Fox, what are you doing to cement air-racing as a long-term sports entity for fans?
Andrew Stephan: Our broadcast is building toward introducing fans to the sport without alienating the fans we already have. This year we will start to see a team identity develop for the groups, and this year we will make sure to showcase the personalities of the pilots.
Some of the innovations we are using this year include analysis of the race using the dartfish as a teaching tool, and we will establish teaching principals using the planes in order to distill it down so the average person can appreciate the sport.
Pressbox: The races are being shot all over the world. Are you being courted for new areas?
Mr. Stephan: We are receiving strong interest from a number of cities, with Indianapolis, Chicago and Dallas all in the mix for next season.
Pressbox: Obviously there will be new planes and uniforms. What else is new this year?
Mr. Stephan: First of all, the format will allow everyone to race on race day. With the new interior cabin, the pilots will all be miked while they compete. We feature a number of new locations this year as well.
Finally, we will be shot and broadcast in HD this year, and will be one of the only shows on Fox Sports to air in HD.