The first exhibit race of the Rocket Racing League, a new entertainment sports league combining the exhilaration of racing with the power of rocket engines, will take place Aug. 1, at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The league has also announced the remaining series of exhibition races for the rest of 2008, the acquisition of Velocity Aircraft and a partnership with Armadillo Aerospace.
Founded in 2005 by two-time Indianapolis 500 winning-team partner Granger Whitelaw and Peter Diamandis, X PRIZE chairman and CEO, RRL will feature multiple races, pitting up to 10 rocket racers going head to head in a four-lap, multiple elimination heat format, on a five-mile Formula One-like closed circuit raceway in the sky.
At AirVenture, two rocket racers will compete head-to-head in a demonstration race. The pilots will view the raceway via in-panel and 3D helmet displays, and attendees will witness the racing action live on multiple, large projection screens.
“The first exhibition race is an important milestone in the progression of the Rocket Racing League,” said Whitelaw, CEO of the league. “We look forward to sharing the experience and thrill of rocket racing with the public.”
EAA has followed the league’s development with great interest.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to develop a whole new audience of aviation enthusiasts, while at the same time promoting aviation innovation,” said Tom Poberezny, EAA president.
Following the first exhibition race at AirVenture, RRL will hold exhibition races at venues around the country, including the Reno National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces, N.M., and Aviation Nation at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas.
Rocket Racing Composite Corp., a subsidiary of RRL, has acquired Velocity Aircraft of Sebastian, Fla., a leading manufacturer of four-seat, canard, pusher experimental aircraft. Under the terms of the agreement, Velocity Aircraft will become a wholly owned division of the corporation and will produce an airframe that will be consistent for all competing rocket racers. Through rigorous research and development, all Velocity-constructed rocket racers will be equipped with the safest-possible airframe. The cockpit seats will be reinforced to withstand impacts up to 20 G’s, and other safety measures will be added using a methodology similar to that of Formula One and Indy cars, to better protect both pilots and passengers.
Mesquite, Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace will provide liquid oxygen engines for RRL. A leading provider of reusable, rocket-powered vehicles, Armadillo Aerospace is focused on vertical takeoff, vertical landing suborbital research and passenger flights, with an eye towards eventual paths to orbit.
“Flying people on our rockets has been our goal from day one, and we’re excited to work with the Rocket Racing League to provide a system that will be safe for the pilots, cost-effective and robust for the teams and spectacular for the crowds,” said John Carmack, president of Armadillo Aerospace.
For more information on the Rocket Racing League, visit [http://www.rocketracingleague.com].