The Red Bull Air Racer challenges an F1 car, too.
We’ve seen plenty of drag races, and yes, even a few contests pitting cars against aircraft. This could be the first time, however, we’ve seen a proper racing-spec airplane in the mix. The bird in question is from the Red Bull Air Race World Series, with former Royal Air Force pilot and Red Bull pro racer Matt Hall at the controls. At first glance you might think this is a no-brainer win for the cars because let’s face it – we’ve seen supercars out accelerate jet fighters. This little prop-driven airplane couldn’t possibly stand a chance, right?
That’s especially true given the wheeled competition, which starts with a blistering Porsche 911 GT2 RS making 700 horsepower (522 kilowatts). Next up is a Brabham BT62 race car with the same power, but wrapped in package over 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) lighter than the Porsche. Lastly, there’s a vintage 1989 Leyton F1 car with 600 hp (447 kW) and only 1,267 lbs (575 kg) to contend with. It certainly doesn’t look good for the airplane.
Here’s the plot twist. Red Bull air racing is often called F1 in the sky, and for good reason. These aircraft have incredible strength and maneuverability, with roll rates that exceed military fighters. And though top speed isn’t anywhere close to even modest military attack jets, these competition aircraft have torquey engines with aggressive propellers that bite the air hard for insane acceleration. In other words, there’s some legitimate competition to be had here, especially since the racing starts from a slight roll as opposed to a dead stop.
We will let the video do the talking, because the action is both exciting and surprising. At one point, one of the drivers had to lift to avoid a freaking collision, so yeah, it’s well worth a few minutes of your time.