...Looking Ahead To Reno With Red Bull

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If you think there is nothing new under the sun in air racing, time to think again. Red Bull (the energy drink) is putting some new fizz in the fun. The company has announced the debut of the new Red Bull Air Race -- a race combining low and fast racing with aerobatic manuevers -- during the Reno Air Races in September (apparently hundreds of miles per hour sixty feet off the ground wasn't interesting enough). Four American pilots, with aerobatic ace Kirby Chambliss taking the lead, will square off against four European champions with the goal of being the fastest to make it through a tight, pylon-marked course ... while completing a set of pre-determined aerobatic maneuvers such as vertical rolls, knife-edge passes, half rolls and a spot touch-and-go landings.

Skipping maneuvers, dangerous flying, and hitting a pylon results in time lost. "It's a style of racing that's never been seen before in the U.S.," says Chambliss, who won a U.K. event this year by .03 second. "We're right up in your face." The race was developed in 2003 by Hungarian aerobatic champ Peter Besenyei, also a former race winner and a member of this years' European flying contingent. "Combining racing and aerobatics makes this an extremely dynamic race," says Red Bull's Steve Pegram. No doubt. The second round of the '04 series will be flown August 20 in Budapest, Hungary, over the Danube River. Red Bull will be webcasting the race live in the U.S. at 1:30 p.m. EST. The World Champion will be crowned at Reno. Be there -- either in person or via the web -- or be de-energized. www.redbullairrace.com