On Saturday and Sunday, fans of US pilot Michael Goulian will have one last chance to see him race in 2017, when he takes off for the season finale of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Team Goulian is aiming to finish the season as strongly as they started it last February, when they captured their first-ever DHL Fastest Lap Award at the 2017 opener in Abu Dhabi. They’ve accelerated right through the season, most recently earning the fastest net time in the Round of 14 at September’s stop in Germany’s Lausitzring.
“Indy is amazing! It’s the home to America’s premier motor-sporting event,” says Goulian. “The Indy 500 is one of the events I have on my schedule and make a point to watch. It’s epic, and for me, to race over the same grounds feels nothing short of that, too. It means a lot to me and the team to be here flying the season finale.”
Crowds were big at the Red Bull Air Race debut in Indianapolis last year, and one of the highlights was the unusual standing start, where the raceplanes take off right in view of the grandstands and fly the short distance to the Start Gate with no time to pull warm-up Gs or tweak the approach line. Pilot focus and engine settings must be spot-on to achieve an optimal start speed and avoid losing precious fractions of a second from the get-go. Goulian enjoys the challenge.
“The standing start is great from a fan’s perspective! For the teams, it brings a lot of unpredictability along with the excitement. Pilots aren’t G’d-up yet, and engine setup can be tricky because we all want to fly right at the limits. We’ve seen DQs last year when RPM limits were exceeded by the smallest margins!” explains Team Coordinator Pablo Branco. “Going from takeoff straight into the track also requires a lot of mind-work from the pilots prior to pushing the throttle forward. They need to anticipate the wind, where turbulence may be, and things like that. It’s a fun challenge – we learned a lot from last year’s race that I’m looking forward to putting in practice this time around.”
Not only family and friends, but all of Team Goulian’s sponsors will be attending the race in Indianapolis, including Alpina, Cirrus, Hartzell, Bose and Aviall. For years, the Massachusetts-based pilot has flown practice sessions at Indiana airfields ahead of his Midwest air shows, and many of his aviation buddies will also be on hand to cheer for Number 99.
“That’s one of the great things about racing at home, you know. Having all of our supporters here as we celebrate our accomplishments this season and start looking forward to 2018,” Goulian states. “Most of them weren’t able to be on site when we stood on the podium in Russia this year, and we’d like to give them that taste of champagne – or I guess it’s milk here at Indy! We’re going to be flying as hard as we can!”
Team Goulian’s final race of the season will start with Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 14, with Race Day immediately following on Sunday, October 15, 2017. Tickets for the Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are on sale now. For all the latest news and information, including tickets, visit www.redbullairrace.com.