Record-breaking skydiver Baumgartner to contest Race of Champions (VIDEO)

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After jumping from the edge of space and breaking the sound barrier, Felix Baumgartner is set for his next big challenge: Taking on the world’s top drivers.

Baumgartner, whose 24-mile descent last fall as part of the “Red Bull Stratos” project left the world spellbound, has announced that he will be part of the Dec. 14-15 Race of Champions in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 44-year-old recently raced in a Volkswagen Scirocco Cup series event at Germany’s Hockenheim track, which was part of the undercard for the DTM series (you can see a bit of his work in the Scirocco on the video below).

In a press release, Baumgartner said that he’s always been interested in motorsport and has previously practiced in rally driving with a friend.

“Of course I’m at a very medium level, but I’m used to speed, picking things up fast and I’m not scared to compete against the best,” he said.

Additionally, he believes that the Race of Champions’ concept can be good for him, since there isn’t much time for competitors to practice before having to hop in the car and race. The RoC sticks drivers from multiple racing disciplines in identical cars and has them go head-to-head.

“Of course everyone is at the top of their game, so I’m the one with the least amount of pressure this time,” he said. “They all want to show they’re the best racing driver in the world, whereas I’m a skydiver…

“So no one will be expecting very much from me and as long as I don’t damage the car and I do a couple of cool laps, everybody’s going to say: ‘Hey, he’s not as bad as we thought he would be!’ I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from it. The more I can learn, the better.”

Baumgartner will be facing tough competition in Bangkok, as racing luminaries such as seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristiansen, 2013 World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier, and V8 Supercars star Jamie Whincup are among those set to compete in this year’s running.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.