Red Bull Air Race Returns To U.S.

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The Red Bull Air Race returned to the U.S. over the weekend, with Mike Mangold and Paul Bonhomme battling for first place over San Diego Bay. Mangold won the series last year, but just barely. This weekend, Bonhomme took first after a one-on-one flight against Mangold. "Great rivalries have a history of triggering interest in motorsports," wrote Bill Center, in the San Diego Union Tribune, a view that is sure to warm the heart of the race organizers. Kirby Chambliss, of Arizona, came in third, but took first for the weekend in pulling Gs, pegging at +9.1 in a tight turn. Mangold said that after three years of competition, all 12 pilots are hard to beat. "This thing is getting a lot tighter," he told the Union Tribune. "The small things are adding up, we're all getting closer and closer." The races drew a crowd of about 150,000 over the weekend. The racers will compete again in Detroit at the end of this month, then move overseas to Europe.

The top three pilots all were flying Edge 540 airplanes. Although Bonhomme made it look easy with his elegant style of flying through the challenging obstacle course just above the water, he was drenched in sweat after returning to the runway, set up on the U.S. Naval Air Station on North Island. He won the final with a time of 1:18.01 to 1:19.24 for Mangold. The San Diego race was just the second of the season, which launched in Abu Dhabi. After six stops in Europe, the series will finish up in Perth.

Click here for video of the race and interviews with the pilots. And here's a little video of our own, from last year's San Diego Red Bull Air Race:

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