Texas, Vegas to host returning Red Bull Air Race series in 2014 (VIDEO)

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Texas Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway are going to try something a bit different next season. The two 1.5-mile ovals will play host to events in the 2014 comeback season for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, with the Texas round slated for Sept. 6-7, 2014 and the Vegas round for Oct. 11-12, 2014.

The series had an initial eight-season run from 2003 to 2010 before going on hiatus in 2011 to reorganize and also implement improved safety measures. Next year, the series will feature seven events altogether; the five non-American rounds will be staged in locales such as the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Poland, Great Britain, and China.

In their respective statements, Texas Motor Speedway president/GM Eddie Gossage and Las Vegas Motor Speedway president/GM Chris Powell felt that the series would be appealing to their tracks’ fan bases.

“We like doing things no one expects,” Gossage said. “I think the thing that will be so appealing to motorsports fans and gearheads is that this is a real competition. Red Bull Air Race is truly a head-to-head, nose-to-nose competition on the clock, where these pilots are running through the Air Gates to see who can turn in the best time.”

“We tend to draw people who love high-performance vehicles, and certainly these airplanes are high-performance vehicles,” Powell said. “Yes, it’s a bit of a new wrinkle for us at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to be staging air racing, but fans who love performance are very much going to love watching these planes race.”

Red Bull Air Race events have pilots darting through obstacle courses made up of “Air Gate” pylons at speeds that rival those of their earth-bound brethren from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One.

For the 2014 campaign, a number of technical tweaks have been made for the aforementioned improvement of safety: Standard engines and propellers for all pilots, changes to the pylons’ material that make them easier to burst if they’re clipped by plane wings, and raising the height of the pylons that the pilots must pass through (from 65 to 80 feet).

Also new for 2014 is a stepping-stone series known as the Challengers Cup, which will see up-and-coming pilots race on the day before the Red Bull Air Race main event.

The TMS and LVMS events mark new ground for Red Bull Air Race, as those will be their first American events to be staged over speedways – a departure from past runs over water and undeveloped land.

The series first held a U.S. round in 2004 at Reno, Nevada, and has since visited San Francisco, San Diego, Utah’s Monument Valley, Detroit and New York City.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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