If you’re not busy in late July and early August this year, head to the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Besides being "the world’s greatest aviation celebration," AirVenture will host the first ever Rocket Racing League exhibition race August 1st and 2nd.
The AirVenture races will pit two flying teams against each other in front of (and above) an estimated 700,000 spectators. Racers will pilot rocket-powered airplanes through a three-dimensional race course in the sky, combining speed and precision flying in a public display. Additional races are scheduled for later in the year in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, and Las Cruces, New Mexico. So far the Rocket Racing League has six registered teams, but anyone with the resources and desire to go really fast can form a team. Contact information for registering a team is at the RRL web site.
The Rocket Racing League was established by Ansari X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and Indianapolis 500 veteran Granger Whitelaw to promote public interest in space exploration and development of commercial space technology. While neither NASA nor NASCAR are involved, the races combine exciting elements of both in public venues.
The first airplanes to race will be fueled with liquid oxygen and kerosene, but a new engine design that will be available for later races uses oxygen and alcohol. Salt water mixed into the fuel causes the new engine to emit a bright yellow glow when it’s running. After all, what good is a show unless you can see the stars?