Red Bull Air Race

The Red Bull Air Race Control Tower

3 minutes

Built from mobile materials, the two race towers for the Red Bull Air Race move around from site to site with the rest of the event. Jim DiMatteo, the competition’s race director, knows a lot about them, and is going to tell us a bit about them.

trorre de control desmontable
The Red Bull Air Race Control Tower

It is our responsibility to ensure the wellness of the spectators and pilots

Hey, Jim! Thanks for meeting us! We’ve got a few questions about the towers. Firstly,  How do you put the tower up, and how long does it take?

The towers are made from materials that are easy to put up and take down, so that we don’t waste time when we’re moving from one place to another. The towers are carried alongside the planes, and land at the site of the race two weeks ahead of the competition. It takes us four days to put these structures together, and another two days to install the wires and run tests.

How many people work in the towers?

Up to 15 people can work on each level, although that number depends on runners and guests. The upper level controls the race and supervises operations from a sporting perspective. The lower levels work on security; water and track operations management; television assembly, timekeeping, and the judges. Sometimes, when necessary, we can install a level dedicated to radio and communication.

Vista lateral de Juan Velarde en su Edge 540
Vista lateral de Juan Velarde en su Edge 540

What is the biggest challenge that you face during a Red Bull Air Race event?

For me, the biggest challenge of every race is mainly, and above all else, safety. It is our responsibility to ensure the wellness of the spectators and pilots, whilst checking that everything goes fairly and competitively so that the fastest plane wins.

And the weather? Can it be a problem?

Of course it can! The weather is one of the biggest factors when it comes to air races. Weather conditions can bring down an event if the pilots are unable to fly, for whatever reason; and are unpredictable. Whatever happens, we cannot compromise on safety. It is our priority at all times.

Jim Dimatteo sonríe para la cámara
Jim Dimatteo sonríe para la cámara

In your opinion, what is the best thing about working in the control towers?

It is an arduous task with little margin for error, but it also gives you the satisfaction of seeing how the same event takes place all around the world. Although the Red Bull Air Race is inherently the same in Spain, Japan, or the United States… the crowds never react in the same way! They act very differently, and it is fun to see the ways that the same product is viewed, followed, and enjoyed across very distinct cultures.

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