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IndyCar driver and Chambliss swap ridesIndyCar driver and Chambliss swap rides

Red Bull arranges a unique experience for bothRed Bull arranges a unique experience for both

Two-time Red Bull Air Race world champion Kirby Chambliss and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi "raced" in formation down the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track in August, then traded rides in their respective vehicles of choice. Red Bull cameras captured what happened as Rossi experienced high intensity aerobatic maneuvers in the front seat of Chambliss’ airplane, starting right off, the video suggests, with a Lomcovák.

Rossi, who notched his first IndyCar win at the Indianapolis 500 in May at age 24, hurtled down the track as Chambliss kept pace, inverted, and Red Bull cameras took it all in. Red Bull, which has in recent years called on Chambliss more than once to fly in concert with a variety of air and/or ground vehicles for film shoots, also arranged for the two to make a head-on pass.

“It felt a little bit like chicken for sure,” Rossi said. “I think I won, though, so it’s fine.”

Rossi has grown used to winning. He has risen quickly through the motorsports ranks since launching his race career in 2006. Rossi admitted that jumping from a race car (he is also a backup F1 driver) into an aerobatic airplane flown by two-time Red Bull Air Race champion Chambliss was a little unnerving, at first. Nearly to the point where he felt himself “chickening out.”

“Once you do one or two things, you know it’s going to be OK,” Rossi said of his ride with Chambliss. “It was all good. I wish I could have done it for another hour.”

Chambliss, for his part, experienced hot laps around the famous track in a specially modified two-seat IndyCar, and while the G-loads were not as high as he’s used to, Chambliss said he came away impressed nonetheless.

“The thing is, for me, is the duration,” Chambliss said of those Gs. (Road and Track measured the forces endured by IndyCar drivers in 2012, and the results might surprise you.) Chambliss was impressed by the duration of those loads as the car navigated corners at speed. The intense loads are maintained longer than the pilot is used to.

Chambliss said he now has an idea of the kind of conditioning required to maintain fine control of a 200-mph (plus) race car for hours: “That is cool, man, if you can keep the concentration like that.”

Chambliss will return to actual air racing action Oct. 1 and 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the penultimate race in the 2016 season. AOPA is throwing a party Oct. 1 (members can purchase discounted tickets to the party online), and Montgomery Aviation at Indianapolis Executive Airport is offering fuel discounts and other services including overnight camping. Eagle Creek Aviation at Eagle Creek Airport also will welcome race fans.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web
Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Topics: Travel, US Travel, Air Racing

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