...Lining Up Sponsors

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As with any other professional sport these days, success depends on sponsorship and media deals. Whitelaw said there's a major TV network interested and a soft drink company is talking with the organizers. Hats, T-shirts and video games are also on the radar. There are even plans for a reality TV series on the selection and training of rocket racing pilots. Even the FAA seems enthusiastic about the idea. "The Rocket Racing League takes the public awareness of rockets to a whole new level," said spokeswoman Patricia Smith. She said the agency is ready "to enable this business through an efficient and responsive regulatory approach." A host of leading-edge technologies will be incorporated into the aircraft and race courses. Pilots will have a head up display showing them a GPS-based "tunnel" to guide them through the vertical 3D course. Viewers at home will also see a 3-D depiction of the action and be shown cockpit and wingtip camera views. Those on the ground will have Jumbotron screens to refer to when the action flies away from them.