The United States IS going to the World Cup!

California pilot Justin Phillipson targeting success at Air Race 1 World Cup

General News
17th October 2017

The United States is going to the World Cup after all!

Sadly, there’s been no fresh twist that will save the national soccer team from elimination for Russia 2018 after last week’s defeat in Trinidad & Tobago.

But US sports fans can instead look forward to seeing their nation represented at next month’s Air Race 1 World Cup Presented by Chang.

Californian Justin Phillipson and other 12 other Americans will be among the best air racing pilots across the globe going wing tip to wing tip in the fastest motorsport on the planet.

The exhilarating event is being staged at Thailand’s U-Tapao Naval Airbase from November 17-19.

Justin, aged 38, will compete against 16 other highly-skilled race pilots at the world’s premier airborne series, known as the Formula One of air racing.

Hosted by the Sports Authority of Thailand, part of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the world’s purest air race challenges pilots in a demanding test of skill. Each race sees up to eight pilots go head-to-head around a tight oval circuit at speeds of over 450kph, just metres above the ground.

Chico-based Justin will be racing in No Strings Attached, a Shoestring racer designed in the 1940s. He built it with brother Josh, incorporating a few modern concepts. No Strings Attached is regarded as one of the lightest and fastest-accelerating racers on the circuit.

Winning last year’s test event at the U-Tapao Naval Airbase has seen Justin installed as one of the favourites for a podium finish – and he certainly isn’t returning to Thailand to make up the numbers.

“I’m not a soccer fan so I’ve not seen any of the coverage about the US team missing out, but there will be plenty of Americans competing at the Air Race 1 World Cup Presented by Chang,” said Justin, who bagged the IF1 Rookie-of-the-Year Award in 2012.

“It’s going to be an amazing event, with the best 17 pilots in the world competing against each other in a truly spectacular location.

“We had a great time at last year’s test event, and not just because we won. The Thai people were amazing hosts. I’ve never experienced so much help and support.

“After winning last year, we won’t be backing down. Every time we race we learn something new and we feel we have more speed to unlock.

“We had a few issues at the recent race in Reno but we’re hoping to have ironed these out. With it being so hot in Thailand, it will be a good challenge to keep the planes racing all week.”

Justin is comfortable flying anything and everything, from jets and seaplanes to gliders and helicopters.

A civilian pilot with 11,500 hours of flying under his belt, Justin works for JetSuiteX, a public charter air carrier that flies out of the San Francisco Bay area.

He became a fan of the sport while watching air races in Reno, where his grandparents lived, as a child and began racing F1 class planes in 2012.

“When I’m not flying for work, I’m building and competing in race planes, so I’m never out of a cockpit!” quipped Justin, an aficionado of all motorsports.

“When people hear air racing, they often think of the Red Bull event, but that’s only against the clock.

“In Air Race 1, you’re racing other pilots. It’s NASCAR only 50ft above the ground, and we’re racing at speeds of around 250mph.”

To ensure a fair competition between pilots, each plane must be built to a specific formula that covers most aspects of the race plane’s characteristics, including wing area, weight and engine size.

Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race 1, commented: “Including Justin, we’ve signed a very strong and diverse pool of race pilots for this year’s World Cup. Not many people have the skill or expertise to race an airplane, so there aren’t many of these pilots around. But we’ll see the best of the best in Thailand. The title is truly up for grabs. We are really looking forward to returning to Asia after a successful trial race in 2016.”

The class of airplanes incorporate the most modern materials and cutting-edge technology for those all-important marginal gains.

As in all motorsport, an element of success is down to the designers, engineering teams and ground crew support in the pits. Many of the pilots and teams design and build their own race plane to capitalise on unique innovations.

Such care is taken with the airplanes that each one is given its own unique moniker. This year’s roster includes the colourfully named Outlaw, to be raced by 2016 Rookie of the Year Scott Holmes, and Philip Goforth’s Knotty Girl.

The Air Race 1 World Cup Presented by Chang will be shown live in Thailand, and later screened in over 100 countries across Europe, Asia and the USA. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit www.airrace1.com

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