The Red Bull Air Race flying event is an officially accredited world championship which uniquely combines high speed and stunning maneuvers in the sky. The air race took place for the first time in 2003. Over the years, the number of locations, races and pilots has constantly increased.
Today, 14 of the best pilots are competing in eight air races in Austria, Germany, Hungary, the UK, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi and Chiba, Japan. Between 2011 and 2013, the race series was discontinued to develop new regulations for the competition, particularly new safety regulations. In 2014, the popular championship returned to the skies.
“With the relaunch two years ago, the objective was to establish air racing as an authentic, reputable motorsport,” says Commercial Director Pavel Turek who had been responsible for Formula 1 sports marketing for 17 years before joining Red Bull Air Race in 2013.
The Red Bull Air Race world championship is one of the most exciting racing events in the world. The regulations are similar to the Formula 1 motorsport series: pilots win points at each of the eight races, and the pilot with the most points at the end becomes world champion. In 2014, the winner was determined only in the last race. Milliseconds can decide between winning or losing.
The exciting air race is attracting more and more motorsport fans: the last competition in Chiba, Japan, in 2015 for instance, brought over 120,000 paying visitors to Japan’s longest artificial beach where the event took place. In 2016 the race took place on June 5 and 6, with an audience of 90,000.
To let its fans participate in the thrill outside the world championship races, Red Bull Air Race launched a mobile game app in 2014 which has been downloaded more than ten million times to date. The company also developed the Challenger Cup which gives young talents the opportunity to train their pilot skills at high speed and low altitude.
Currently, there are five air races over land and three over water, with an visitor numbers averaging 50,000 per event weekend. This year on the first September weekend, after a five-year break, the Red Bull Air Race will return to the Lausitzring in Germany.
“We plan to grow the number of races still further,” explains Mr. Turek. “The goal is to have up to 15 races per year, with additional locations in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.”
Ticketing, however, is only one means of generating revenue. The Red Bull Air Race is a perfect platform for companies to enhance brand awareness through sponsorships or partnerships. These marketing tools are employed by the watchmaker Breitling, which is also the official timekeeper of the race series, the action camera maker Garmin, the watch manufacturer Hamilton, logistic giant DHL and many other recognized international brands.
Red Bull Air Race is also expanding its TV presence, in cooperation with major national and international broadcasters, and is pursuing a targeted social media strategy with a growing focus on user generated content.
Within the Red Bull corporate family, the Red Bull Air Race is a top-ranking activity. “The complete Red Bull network can be activated for the stunning flying event,” states Mr. Turek. “We have partners and representatives in 160 countries across the globe.”
In cooperation with the international Red Bull network, the objective is to further expand the global recognition of the exciting air race.
“We want to establish the Red Bull Air Race as a sustainable, financially independent motorsport series which uses advanced technology, addresses young target groups and is acknowledged by the public and the media as an authentic, credible sport,” Mr. Turek describes the company’s strategy. “We are one of the most attractive opportunities for large consumer brands to engage. We have a wide media presence, and our sport is absolutely unique.”
To further grow its international presence, Red Bull Air Race welcomes team ownership by corporate partners who can sponsor their own air race team, thus providing them with an ideal marketing platform for their products or services.
At present, there are 14 teams, two of which are owned by Red Bull. The current championship promises to be a highly suspenseful event: after two races in Abu Dhabi and Austria, the German pilot Matthias Dolderer is in the lead. “It is a very exciting sport, everything is still possible,” concludes Mr. Turek.
All Photos by Red Bull Air Race