It’s supposed to be “sweet 16,” but the news coming out of Red Bull headquarters is “bittersweet.”
For 16 years now, since its inception in 2003, the Red Bull Air Races have given the aviation world the kind of star power that other motor sports are all about. But the expensive and logistically difficult-to-produce events haven’t created household names, as is the case with other motor sports, though the company didn’t cite that as a cause for its decision.
The news came as a shock, with the company suddenly announcing today (Wednesday, May 29) that 2019 will be its last year. Three races remain for this year’s series, with events in Russia, Hungary and Japan. In all, the series has included more than 90 races.
The release said that, “Red Bull has decided not to continue the Red Bull Air Race World Championship beyond the 2019 season.” The explanation it gave should come as little surprise to those who have seen racing events come and go in aviation. With the exception of the National Championship Air Races at Reno, there haven’t been successful races since the Golden Age of racing that ended with the beginning of the US involvement in World War II.
So why is Red Bull pulling the plug? (And it does sound like done deal, unfortunately.) In its short statement, the company said that the races never generated “the level of outside interest as many other Red Bull events across the world.”
The company ended the release by thanking all of its pilots and their teams, as well as Red Bull employees “for all they have done to make these enjoyable and memorable events.”