he Red Bull Air Race is famed for being held in unusual locations, with often stunning backdrops of rivers and cities playing host to a heart pumping display of skill and nerve. Lake Balaton is usually a holiday resort. But last month, over the 13 and 14 July, it set the scene for the last ever European Red Bull Air Race.
When I arrived on Friday (the day before qualifiers) the full logistics of this race was truly epic. The iconic 25-metre-high race pylons were already anchored into place by thousands of kilos of chains and anchors. Grandstands were being erected, catering trucks where stocking up and our own Air BP tent was up, ready to be transformed.
Our innovative recycling installation in the ‘activation zone’ was already drawing a crowd. The ‘Air BP #AirRace’ installation was part art, part photo-opportunity and had a serious message encouraging people to recycle and not just bin their cans. As both the Air Race’s fuel provider and low carbon partner, we were proud to champion the low carbon message. A massive 10,000 people posted pictures on social media after the weekend.
Despite being enthusiastic fans, not all our customers had ever seen a Red Bull Air Race World Championship before. They were in for a treat as they would soon experience first-hand some of the world’s best pilots furiously battling it out through the 6 km aerial race track to secure a place on the podium.
Our customers were invited to an on-land pylon tour, during which we were given the chance to climb inside one of the inflated pylons! Customers then donned life jackets and took to the water in a speed boat to see a pylon up close. They were all impressed to learn the water team can replace and inflate a pylon within two minutes under quite choppy conditions.
After watching Martin Šonka swoop to victory on the first day we were invited to the Race Control Tower and then given the ultimate ‘behind the scenes’ hangar tour. Everyone got to meet their favourite pilot, quiz them on what it’s like to participate in a Red Bull Air Race and get caps signed. Some of our lucky customers even managed to fit in tea and biscuits with the only British contender, Ben Murphy. He eventually took a career-best second place in the weekend’s race.
Then it was time for our customers to kick back in their reserved seats and watch the action unfold for the main event. The race action certainly didn’t disappoint. The final was a close call with both the race favourites Yoshihide Muroya and Martin Šonka making mistakes. Matt Hall eventually took first place on the podium. Meaning Šonka, Hall or Muroya could take first place in Japan next month.
Our team also enjoyed meeting visitors at our Air BP hospitality tent. Here fans were asked to vote for their favourite pilots. We had a record 6000 people vote and some 3000 fans also had great fun posing for photos with our ‘cut-out’ Red Bull Air Race Pilots.
We have 10 collectors Red Bull Air Race caps signed by Japanese favourite and 2018 world champion Yoshihide Muroya to celebrate the last ever race in Japan 7 – 8 September.
To get your hands on this collector’s item, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and why you would like to win a world champion signed cap in no more than 20 words. We will pick the best 10 on 10 October. Our decision is final, and no reasons will be given. If you have won, we will let you know. We will announce the winners in the next edition of the Network News.