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Airplanes to race around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016

Red Bull Air Race logo

For the first time in over a century, there will be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Air racing, that is – as in airplanes flying around and above the fabled Brickyard.

IMS announced Wednesday that it will host the seventh stop on the eight-race, four-continent Red Bull Air Racing Series on Oct. 1-2, 2016.

The world’s most elite master class pilots will participate in the landmark event. While IMS is known for open-wheel and stock car racing, it also has a rich history of air racing that dates back to more than 100 years ago.

“Orville and Wilbur Wright were some of the first pilots to take to the skies above the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the first licensed aviation competition in United States history,” IMS president J. Douglas Boles said in a media release. “In 2016, as we celebrate the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, it’s fitting that the world’s best pilots will gather at IMS for a breathtaking display of competition and innovation that will honor the legacies of IMS founder Carl Fisher, the Wright brothers and their fellow aviation pioneers.”

Ironically, the first race ever contested at IMS was not a car event. Rather, the 2.5-mile oval hosted the first national balloon race in 1909 – which was also the first year an air race was held (in Reims, France).

IMS also hosted the nation’s first licensed aviation meet in 2010, and served as a military aviation and refueling depot during World War I.

The objective of the air race will be for pilots to maneuver around a “track” made up of air-filled pylons in the fastest time possible and with the fewest penalties. In all sessions, only one pilot will be in the air at any one time, essentially racing the clock and not other pilots.

Training/practice takes place Sept. 29-30, followed by two days of qualifying, a Round of 14, a Round of 8 and a Final 4.

IndyCar fans will certainly appreciate the speed factor of the planes, as they hit the same speed open-wheel cars reach at IMS: in the 230-mph range.

“IMS is a perfect location for the Red Bull Air Race due to its motorsport and aviation history and presence and we cannot wait to bring our sport to the skies above the track,” said Erich Wolf, General Manager at Red Bull Air Race GmbH.

Follow @JerryBonkowski