This is a reprint of Thursday’s RBAR Newsletter:
Besenyei rides western fairy tale
Peter Besenyei (Team Red Bull) of Hungary set the pace in Thursday’s training ahead of Friday’s qualifying session for the Red Bull Air Race World Series at Monument Valley, completing a difficult course against the breathtaking western scenery ahead of championship leader Paul Bonhomme of Britain (Team Matador) and 2005 champion Mike Mangold of the United States (Team Cobra). Beseneyei, who won the season opener at Abu Dhabi, is in third in the standings behind Bonhomme and Mangold and said he was quickly adapting to the thin air, the 5,200-foot altitude that has posed special challenges to the 13 pilots.
"It’s getting better with each training session and I was feeling more comfortable," said Besenyei, a national hero in Hungary who was runner-up in both 2005 and 2006 after his near flawless run through the slalom course just a few dozen feet above the surface at speeds of up to 250 mph. "It’s a very impressive circuit. The conditions are difficult but they’re the same for everyone. It almost feels like you’re in a fairy tale flying here."
Iconic western setting
The race in Monument Valley, an iconic western setting that has served as a backdrop for scores of films and commercials over the last half century, marks the first time in this Red Bull Air Race World Series season that the pilots are flying over land rather than water. The awe-inspiring vistas have been included in films from John Wayne’s 1938 classic "Stagecoach" and Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey" to Steven Spielberg’s "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Thelma and Louise". Even Tom Hanks halted his long cross-country run in front of the red-hued buttes of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in "Forrest Gump." The rugged terrain has also long been utilized by advertisers as a backdrop for the macho Marlboro Man image.
Picture courtesy of Christian Pondella (Red Bull).