AIR RACE

In classic aerobatic competitions, Peter Besenyei always competed in the unlimited category. Among the participants in these competitions, the best 12 competitors could take part in the aerobatics world cup, where Peter Besenyei was also selected. For more than 10 years, the competitions were held in Japan, Asia, America, Canada and many other places where the four-minute program was flown to music. The competition series had a good response both among the competitors and the audience. Peter took first place overall in 1997-98 and first place individually in 2001.

Towards the end, fewer and fewer local sponsors supported the competitions and there were no prominent main supporters. This caused more and more headaches for the competition director, Jean-Louis Monnet. Seeing this, around 2000, Peter Besenyei – who was already a Red Bull competitor at the time – met Dietrich Mateschitz, the director of Red Bull. He mentioned stepping in as a sponsor and having a Red Bull Aerobatic World Cup. They set up a meeting with director Jean-Louis Monnet to discuss the future of the racing series. No agreement was reached, but since Dietrich Mateschitz was a person who loved flying and had the right funds, he decided that he wanted to have his own aerobatic competition. He commissioned Péter to develop a competition similar to Formula 1, where speed, time and spectacle dominate. Putting the initial ideas on paper, Peter went back to Mateschitz, who liked the idea very much. He asked him to work out the details as well. With a crew of 6-7 creatives and media specialists, they developed the Red Bull Air Race concept in half a year.

Peter’s task was to test the emerging ideas in practice at the military airport in Zeltweg. Here, the gates were tested for the first time, the main criterion of which was that they should be large and visible and that if any competitor goes through them, neither the plane nor the pilot can be damaged. They experimented with laser light, fountains, cardboard, balsa wood, and dry ice steam. Inflatable balloons proved to be the most reliable, which were initially cylindrical and tied at several points to resist gusts of wind. Later, a separate team developed the gates and the cone-shaped gates proved to be more stable, which stood stable even in stormy winds. The gates made up of sections could be repaired within 2-3 minutes even in the event of a collision and the race could continue. In addition to racing, Peter also participated in the practical testing of new-generation gates.

More videos of the Red Bull Air Race 2014-2019
they can be viewed on the Red Bull content pool and Red Bull TV pages.

The Red Bull Air Race series of competitions were organized from 2003-2019 in 24 countries, at 42 locations, and was watched by approximately 230 million spectators at the locations. The races were mainly held over water or near cities, but also at airports or at iconic locations such as Monument Valley in Colorado.

The first competition was part of the Zeltweg Air Power military air show in 2003, where Peter Besenyei won first place. In the same year, the second competition was held in Budapest. No races were organized between 2011-13 due to restructuring and the development and implementation of new security measures. The Air Race started again in 2014. Peter Besenyei stopped competing at the end of the 2015 season. Since then, he has been presenting his skills at air shows. Due to declining corporate interest over the years, Red Bull decided not to continue the Red Bull Air Race World Championship beyond the 2019 season. The last competition was held in Chiba, Japan.

THE FUTURE

In February 2021, World Air Sports Federation Federation announced its new promoter, Willie Cruickshank, and the organization of the Air Race World Championship. In February 2022, the first race of the new series was announced, as well as a 3-year contract with Indonesia. The races starting in 2022 would have been held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in addition to the other rounds on the planned calendar. However, the 2022 season has been canceled due to COVID and the current economic situation. The attempt was not long-lived, according to some reports, Willie Cruickshank abandoned his plans.

On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, Yoshihide Muroya (Japan/2017 World Champion), Matt Hall (Australia/2019 World Champion) and Pete McLeod (2017 Canadian 3rd overall) announced the new AIR RACE X concept at a press conference . It is planned that AIR RACE X will consist of a dual race format: “Real Races”, which will follow the Red Bull Air Race World Championship competition format, and “Digital Races”, which will combine actual flights with digital technology to achieve a continuous world series.