ABOVE: A novel digital format is intended to ‘expand the ability to hold racing throughout the world’

Eight former Red Bull Air Race pilots have signed up to participate in the newly-formed Air Race X series, scheduled to start this October with an ‘augmented reality’ race in Shibuya, Japan.

Billed as a ‘5-dimensional motorsport that transcends time and space’, Air Race X is slated to be the successor to the popular Red Bull Air Race series which ended in 2019. Devised by pilots Matt Hall, Yoshi Muroya and Pete McLeod, the format combines ‘actual flight with the latest digital technology’; harnessing augmented reality to provide ‘innovative public viewing’.

Eight pilots will compete in qualifying rounds over six days from their home airfields, with highly accurate telemetry date collected by Air Race X officials as the week unfolds. The highest-scoring four will then progress to the Final Tournament on 15 October, also flown remotely but superimposed on the skies of Shibuya, Japan. Through an application called ‘STYLY,’ spectators can then ‘watch the race planes fly through the streets of Shibuya as if it were happening right before their eyes’, including a dedicated spectator area in Shibuya itself from which to watch the augmented reality event. Just as with the Red Bull Air Race, the competition will also be broadcast online, ‘allowing visitors to enjoy the excitement of the race on live media’.

Although an in-person Grand Championship final might be a possibility in coming years, the inaugural race season will be entirely digital; aiming to conjure the excitement of an air race series without the substantial costs involved of an in-person tournament – something which undoubtedly affected the Air Race World Championship’s cancellation, and which all eight pilots had signed up to participate in.

Joining Air Race X’s founding three pilots are Mika Brageot, Patrick Davidson, Petr Kopfstein, Martin Šonka and Juan Verlade. The eight will compete in qualifying rounds between 8-13 October 2023.