Another Great Article on the Rocket Racing League.

This article originally appeared on airport journals.com

Rocket Racing League—NASCAR-style Racing in the Sky Jul ’08

By Henry M. Holden

Courtesy Rocket Racing League Inc

The prototype Rocket Racer takes off for a test flight from the Mojave Desert in October 2007. The rocket produces a 10- to 15-foot long, bright yellow flame and a roar heard and felt for miles.

The Rocket Racing League of Las Cruces, N.M., combines the competition of air racing with rocketry. X-Prize founder Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, who serves as co-founder and chairman, and Granger B. Whitelaw, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion team partner who serves as co-founder, president and CEO, established the RRL in 2005.

The Rocket Racing League will use a rocket-powered Velocity, a four-seat pusher canard experimental aircraft. The Rocket Racer, currently under development, began test flights in the fall of 2007. The aircraft will use a single 1,500 to 2,000 pound thrust liquid oxygen and kerosene rocket engine that emits a 10- to 15-foot long, bright yellow flame and a roar heard for miles. Mesquite, Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace will provide the LOX engines.

With the acquisition of Velocity Aircraft by Rocket Racing Composites Corp., a subsidiary of RRL, Velocity will produce an airframe that will be consistent for all competing Rocket Racers.

“The first aircraft we tried was the Long EZ, but we retired the precursor vehicle called the EZ-Rocket,” said Whitelaw. “The EZ-Rocket used a modified Long-EZ aircraft frame and two 400-pound liquid oxygen and alcohol engines. We thought the Velocity was the most stable aircraft for racing that we could make modifications to and add our rocket engines and avionics. It’s an easily crafted composite aircraft, and we liked its flight profile.

“People have contacted us from the very first day asking if they could enter their aircraft into the league. We’ve been saying that after the first two or three years, we’ll announce new engine manufacturers. We’ll certainly look at other aircraft as we get the racing series going and we have some safe vehicles we can add to the mix.”

Courtesy Rocket Racing League Inc

The Rocket Racing League plans to use the Armadillo Aerospace engine, seen here during a test firing. The combination of liquid oxygen and kerosene produces multi-colored exhaust flames.

The Velocity airframe needed major modifications.

“We had to build a new aft section to mount the rocket engine and the LOX tank,” said Whitelaw. “We had to increase its size to hold the larger tank. We made some other structural changes, such as changing the rod system for the ailerons and rudder. We also added some cameras and radios for tracking and viewing. From the wings forward we made very few modifications.”

Safety measures and methodology borrowed from the Formula One and Indy cars will help provide a safer vehicle and better protect pilots and passengers. Reinforced cockpit seats will enable the Rocket Racers to withstand impacts up to a 20 G-load.

Rocket racers will debut at the world’s largest air show.

“We’re going to our first exhibition race at EAA AirVenture, in Oshkosh, Wis., Aug. 1 and 2,” said Whitelaw. “The first flight will be on Tues., July 29, for a press conference, and then on Friday and Saturday for the show. We’ll field one or two aircraft, depending on which aircraft we feel are safe and reliable at the time, to fly in front of the public. The Rocket Racers will have speeds up to 350 miles per hour, and we hope that for the first time, two Rocket Racers will compete head-to-head in a demonstration race on the raceway in the sky.”

He said they might add two or three more at future exhibition races.

“We’re doing it as much for us and for the FAA, to get a feel for what we want to do, and what kinds of modifications we may need to make,” he said. “We’ll be adding other things to the show, and by the end of 2009, we may start the flight series with eight to 10 aircraft racing at one time, and put on a good show with patterns that are safe to fly. It’ll be its own venue and a race, similar to NASCAR racing, with prize money. We’re going to do exhibitions first to let the people see what it looks and feels like. At the end of the day, we want people to have a new experience as well as a fun air show.”

He said the first exhibition race would be an important milestone in the progression of the Rocket Racing League.

“We’re looking forward to sharing the experience and thrill of rocket racing with the public,” he said.

Courtesy Rocket Racing League Inc

Granger Whitelaw, CEO and co-founder of the Rocket Racing League, oversees the league’s management, operations, partnerships and corporate affairs.

Raceway in the sky

Instead of racing high performance cars around a ground track, the RRL will fly manned rocket-powered airplanes within a virtual three-dimensional track in the sky. The track is one mile high, two miles long and one-half-mile wide. Virtual GPS “tunnels” will shape the closed circuit track. The race will consist of four-lap, multiple elimination heats over a five-mile closed circuit Formula One-type raceway. The thousands of fans in attendance will witness the racing action live and displayed on multiple large projection screens. The fans watching on TVs and PCs at home will experience the thrill of the race via unique remote and rocket-mounted cameras that’ll give them the sensation of riding alongside the pilots.

“People will actually see the rocket planes racing on the tracks,” said Whitelaw. “There’ll be special effects for rocket planes that go through a virtual barrier and are penalized, similar to Formula One races. Viewers will have a view from the cockpit unlike anything that’s been done before. The races are projected to be about an hour and a half in length.”

The Rocket Racers will fly at a safe distance from the crowd, will never fly directly towards or away from the crowd and will follow all air show regulations set forth by the FAA.

“Safety is a number one priority with us,” said Whitelaw. “A team of dedicated engineers and scientists with years of experience in the given fields are charged with ensuring safety for all those involved.”

The teams

Currently, the league has six teams: Thunderhawk Rocket Racing, Santa Fe Racing, Bridenstine Rocket Racing, Rocket Star Racing, Team Extreme Rocket Racing and Canada-based Beyond Gravity Rocket Racing. Down the road, Whitelaw expects a maximum of about 14 teams.

“We’re still working out those details,” Whitelaw said. “The teams, pilot and pit crew will probably be about 10 people. If you include all the support staff, there’ll probably be about 30 to 40.”

World-famous aviators, including retired NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss and aerobatic pilots Sean Tucker, Len Fox and Jim Bridenstine will fly the Rocket Racers, capable of accelerating from zero to full-throttle in a split second.

Photo By Diane Bondareff for Rocket Racing League

Granger Whitelaw and actor Timothy Hutton examine a scale model of the Velocity Rocket racer. Hutton is a Rocket Racing League advisory board member.

Funding

Whitelaw and the board of directors will fund the league privately.

At every Rocket Racing League event, pilots who finish in the top three spots will earn points. The pilot who earns the most points overall at the end of a regular season will be crowned league champion.

“The teams are individually owned, so they’ll have their own funding, whether it’s from private money or sponsors,” said Whitelaw. “The prize monies will all be funded by sponsors. The first prize will be $100,000, with other prizes for fastest turn around, lap, pit stop and so on.”

He said revenues would be generated through six primary sources. Each will fall under a separate revenue unit of the RRL: sponsorship, sanctioning fees (and venue related revenues), merchandising/licensing, broadcast rights, gaming and touring/amusement park offerings. The licensing of intellectual property will generate additional revenues.

“We anticipate our crowds to reach the same level for those who attend other motorsports and air show events—between 100,000 and 500,000 people,” said Whitelaw.

Following the first exhibition race, the RRL will hold exhibition races at Reno National Championship Air Races, in Reno, Nev., X Prize Cup, in Las Cruces, N.M., and Aviation Nation, Nellis AFB, in Las Vegas, Nev.

For more information on the Rocket Racing League, visit http://www.rocketracingleague.com.

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About Granger Whitelaw

Granger Whitelaw founded the Rocket Racing League along with partner, Peter Diamandis in 2005. See more information at http://www.grangerwhitelaw.com/blog and http://grangerwhitelaw.brandyourself.com View all posts by Granger Whitelaw

61 responses to “Another Great Article on the Rocket Racing League.

  • Heinz H Frentzen

    This looks amazing, are there videos on youtube?

  • Ron Peterson

    How do I sign up to be a pilot? I’m 22, and just got my pilot’s license, this is what I’d love to do, how much fun would this be???

  • James Clark

    I’m very impressed you’re one of the guys who created the rocket racing league, I remember reading about a couple of years ago, and thinking it was a totally original idea.

  • Francis Williams

    I saw an article on this in a magazine a few years back, what a cool concept.

  • Flavio B

    Formula 1 in the sky, I love it!

  • Molly Oraggio

    We’ve come along way since the Wright brothers, that’s for sure!

  • James Lauda

    It’s about time someone did something like this, racing is in my blood, and a series like this really gets me excited.

  • Gerard Burger

    “The teams are individually owned, so they’ll have their own funding, whether it’s from private money or sponsors,” said Whitelaw. “The prize monies will all be funded by sponsors. The first prize will be $100,000, with other prizes for fastest turn around, lap, pit stop and so on.”

    That’s better than just about any Indycar race except for the Indy 500.

  • Model Trains

    It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have learn this put up and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to learn even more things about it!

  • Ted Fabio

    I’m not into air racing, but I think this would have been quite amazing to watch.

  • PLR Downloads

    I am really impressed together with your writing abilities as smartly as with the structure on your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it your self? Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to look a nice blog like this one today..

  • free hip-hop instrumentals

    It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tom Crosse

    Hi Granger

    We met at x prize 06 when you guys where show casing the league.
    I was there with the leading edge guys.
    I was going to secure them sponsors.
    If the league Is looking for global partners and sponsors please email me

    Best

    Tom Crosse

  • Anonymous

    The teams are individually owned, so they’ll carry out their own funding, whether it’s from not public money otherwise sponsors,” held Whitelaw. “The prize monies hope against hope all come to pass funded by sponsors. The chief prize hope against hope come to pass $100,000, with other prizes in place of fastest focus around, knees, pit bring to an end and so on.

  • Scott Emrich

    I’m very impressed you’re lone of the guys who fashioned the rocket racing league, I remember evaluation in the region of a pair of years in the past, and thinking it was a perfectly real McCoy suggestion.

  • Craig D. Mack

    Oh may well – and with the aim of channel racing! I think this is my very favorite month of the time.

  • Gregory G. Tuten

    Oh MAY – and that means racing! I think this is my very favorite month of the year.

  • Larry R. Allen

    Oh maybe strength of character – in the sphere of adding together to with the aim of earnings take part!

  • Burton K. Hicks

    It’s in point of fact a good and of use part of the pack of info.

  • Hayden Kruse

    It’s in point of fact a polite and of use part of a set of info. I’m glad with the aim of you shared this handy info with us

  • Glenn Jameson

    Such a nice article and great to read this one. I like the exhibitions of Rocket Racing League and to exhaust such multicolored flames. Keep inspiring others.

  • Kyle Alison

    Wow the prize is so big $100,000. How I wish I could to participate to the event, it looks so fun and racing is the most enjoyable sports in the world.

  • Kevin Carl

    I heard airport journals.com before and I’m glad this is written from the journal. I would like to see the videos on Youtube soon and I think all were great.

  • Jenny

    I want to see this too, “People will actually see the rocket planes racing on the tracks”, it must be a great crowd and people will really enjoy it and the noise will be all over the place I guess and it will totally be amazing. I like this article that you have posted and it really gives interest to the audience and readers of rocket racing league

  • Will Samson

    Rocket Racing League at it’s finest in all racing events. I want to personally see this on the crowd’s ground. I want to see those planes flying like jets on movies and then shout like I’ve never shouted before. Me and my friends love seeing such race in the sky like this one. I hope this one still keeps on inspiring other pilots to race like this one.

  • Leo Mern

    I want to see this, it’s 5 years ago and I really wonder what this looks like at that time “The prototype Rocket Racer takes off for a test flight from the Mojave Desert in October 2007”, Maybe I can see this on youtube and I will try to search this one. Anyway, this is a great article on Rocket Racing League and I like reading this one. I hope more events will be conducted in the future by Rocket Racing League

  • Jena Mill

    I have read some articles about Rocket Racing League and all of them are positive, including this one. Rocket Racing League is really a fast growing racing league since right now if I’m not mistaken, many are really a fan of it. Well if I have to say, many people and most of the people really want to see things that are rear just like exhibitions on planes and that is what Rocket Racing League is all about, even me I am so much a fan of planes and racing.

  • Joe Himson

    I love airplanes and I love aircrafts and sometimes I wonder if I really want to be an astronaut. I want to go explore and look at the stars and on moon but I am afraid. Since I was a child I love toy planes and I always ask my parents to buy me plane toys and though some of it are broken but some of it are also are still good to go. I heard some informations and ideas about this Rocket Racing League and I think I like this Racing League.

  • Paul Hope

    This is a good new article for Rocket Racing League. I hope still many good articles for Rocket Racing League will be produce by article providers. I want to read more of Rocket Racing League, the ideas of the founder and also some surveys on what do people think about this new event of racing and at the same time an air show with exhibitions. I am looking forward to what will happen next to Rocket Racing League as this is their new journey for showing the people the new style in air show and exhibition.

  • Jun James

    Another good article on Rocket Racing League, I like reading this one and also I am a fan of Rocket Racing League. I like exhibition games and also exhibition races, I want to see this rocket racing league on actual course or air. Since I was young I always like seeing or looking at games that really makes me feel goosebumps and just like air shows, exhibition air shows are good to watch and also to make it more interesting like this rocket racing league is a good idea.

  • Don Vern

    Such a nice article for Rocket Racing league and I really like the content of this one. I hope many articles will be made and spread more for the next month while going near to the target of launching the event Rocket racing league. I like reading also your blogs and since it is all about rocket racing league and also racing and formula one racing. I hope to read more of it in the future. It’s so nice to participate in a race and I know it’s a once in a lifetime experience to participate in racing especially in formula one racing. I envy you.

  • Donk Berd

    I like this part of the article “World-famous aviators, including retired NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss and aerobatic pilots Sean Tucker, Len Fox and Jim Bridenstine will fly the Rocket Racers, capable of accelerating from zero to full-throttle in a split second.”. They are all great and it’s nice to see that they are participating and supporting the rocket racing league. This is a cool article and I like this and I read some articles too all about rocket racing league and right now I am waiting for their first grand launching.

  • Howard

    This is truly a good another article on the birth and vision of the rocket racing league. I like it when positive articles are published because it’s nice to read and sometimes it is very stressful to read negative articles due to its criticisms and feedbacks of people that isn’t satisfying to them. I hope to see the rocket racing league as soon as possible on their first race since it will be very exciting watching their track and race on fire.

  • Jason

    I like this rule of the rocket racing league “At every Rocket Racing League event, pilots who finish in the top three spots will earn points. The pilot who earns the most points overall at the end of a regular season will be crowned league champion.” I think this is really a fair rule and the best will really rise in the finals. Thanks for this article and I’m looking to the next article for rocket racing league.

  • William Smith

    This is truly a great article on the birth and vision of the rocket racing league. I like rocket racing league and I’m looking forward to seeing this one in actual field or track and on a big crowd. I like reading this article and I think this is a positive and a good article for us and for rocket racing league. I am watching some movies all about planes and what I want to say is I really like seeing this one like in the movies.

  • Sam Dylle

    I want to see this teams in an actual flight on the actual track “Thunderhawk Rocket Racing, Santa Fe Racing, Bridenstine Rocket Racing, Rocket Star Racing, Team Extreme Rocket Racing and Canada-based Beyond Gravity Rocket Racing”, I am hoping to have the best sit for a ticket and I really want to see this is person and on own eyes and not on television or a monitor on the computer. Anyway, thanks for keep on upgrading or uploading or posting some new informations of the development of the rocket racing league.

  • Barn Jessie

    Indeed! A great another article about rocket racing league. I like reading articles and blogs everyday and it happen that this one of the sites that the internet that is given to me. But anyway I have read this one and I think it will be good for the part of rocket racing league. It’s great that they have passed the great test and I know it is not easy to have a permission and a certificate. Nice job!

  • Daisy Ruth Mendez

    New article that I have read about this racing league. Well, I am not really a fan but I will support this. I like some comments of several people here on the article and I think they came from different countries or maybe states I guess. Hello to everyone here and I bet you are all a fan and love racing since childhood. I will just put a comment here just to create a mark from this website. Just keep on posting and many will read it after. That’s all and I will go now.

  • Melanie

    I am a fan of air machines any air machines or how do you call it. I’ved heard alot about this rocket racing league and I think this is new to me. I have been watching many flights before and even games. Games on air is really awesome especially the airplane fighting games that I have played. Anyway this is a cool type of show and exhibition and I think I will like this one. I read all the content of this article and I think this is a good article for rocket racing league or how will they call. it

  • Saldy Reo

    I have never been into Mojave Desert “The prototype Rocket Racer takes off for a test flight from the Mojave Desert in October 2007”, judging by this line that I quoted I think it is really wide there and of course it is really that is because it is desert. Desert are really something that I have seen only in television ad videos in the internet but I have never really experience making a footprint to it. They say it’s nice to walk in the desert because you can easily make a footprint and also it is very wide there.

  • Stunney Fold

    I am looking forward to this rocket racing league because of this one “The Rocket Racing League of Las Cruces, N.M., combines the competition of air racing with rocketry. X-Prize founder Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, who serves as co-founder and chairman, and Granger Whitelaw”, all are big and respected men on the country. I guess many will acknowldege this rocket racing league due to this type of leaders who will be leading this rocket racing league. I have been watching many air shows before and I hope this one will be just like it or maybe even more amazing.

  • Km

    They say racers runs in our blood, my father was one of the greatest racer of his time, that’s why my older brother follows the foot step of my father. They also want me to try this game, but I really find this game not that interesting. I find it that way its because its not my type of game, I love being a pilot, but my father will not support me with this dream. He really hopes that I will also become a good racer.

  • Julie Mildson

    I am looking forward to this one, I have been following this rocket racing league for months now and I am excited to looking this one “Following the first exhibition race, the RRL will hold exhibition races at Reno National Championship Air Races, in Reno, Nev., X Prize Cup, in Las Cruces, N.M., and Aviation Nation, Nellis AFB, in Las Vegas, Nev.”, I hope this will be a great show and exhibition because many are waiting for it. I believe that many will be amazed since many love exhibitions.

  • Roxanne

    This is indeed a great article on rocket racing league. I like reading and listening good news about rocket racing league because I’m really longing to see their very first flight of great pilots. I think the pilots will be good and expert since this is a big event and I wonder who will be the pilots for every team. I will be following on updates for this race competition and I hope it will still be a good news.

  • John Michael

    This is a cool article and as what I have observed many like this and maybe it is because that this is a positive news for fans of rocket racing league and for rocket racing league itself. I think many articles about rocket racing will be like this because I think they are slowly making upgrades and preparing things that are not ordinary since I know that this will not just be an ordinary air show and in fact this is a race and I think this is a new style of racing.

  • Roger

    Now this is a good article for rocket racing league and I think I should feel good with it also because I am also a follower of rocket racing league. Anyway for those who are not yet familiar with rocket racing league here is a brief definition from wiki “The Rocket Racing League is a racing league that plans to use rocket-powered aircraft to race a closed-circuit air racetrack. Founded in 2005, the league has been working to kick off an inaugural racing season since 2008, but as of 2011, has been unable to do so. The “rocket racers” are slated to compete in the air and on a virtual racetrack easily viewed by a live airshow-type audience as well projected on large screen and handheld electronic displays.”, I hope you guys will enjoy it.

  • Jamel

    This involves a really large amount of viewers, audience and fans ““We anticipate our crowds to reach the same level for those who attend other motorsports and air show events—between 100,000 and 500,000 people,” said Whitelaw.”, I hope this rocket racing league will be going accordingly and exactly to what their plans are and I think it will be nice if their plane will go well and great progress and development will surely follow after it.

  • Justin

    This looks common but I would agree to this “The teams are individually owned, so they’ll have their own funding, whether it’s from private money or sponsors,” said Whitelaw.”, that’s the common type when racing and you have to really have funds for that since you join you should know that and yes sponsors are included and that is nice , that can lessen the expenses with you both having common benefits.

  • Harrold

    What shall I say, it’s nice that they use the Armadillo Aerospace engine “The Rocket Racing League plans to use the Armadillo Aerospace engine, seen here during a test firing.” to have a test firing. How I wish I can see what really happened on the test firing or test flying. I think it will be awesome seeing such things in engineers world move and really operate and shows you how it operates.

  • Mario Gear

    I think I like this part “He said revenues would be generated through six primary sources.”, anyway this is a good article for rocket racing league. It’s been a few weeks since I last visited this website and finally I commented now here. I like reading your articles here because most of it are about racing and not to mention I am racing enthusiast ha ha ha ha ha lol.

  • Jennifer Wright

    This is what I want to actually see ““People will actually see the rocket planes racing on the tracks,” said Whitelaw. “There’ll be special effects for rocket planes that go through a virtual barrier”, I like seeing such live shows and air shows and even magic shows. There is no doubt that I am still a childish ha ha ha lol 😀

  • Winston

    This is a cool article I guess. I am a basketball player and I like seeing good things that support my career and just like you here you have a good support like this one. Many will indeed be encourage with this sports because there are some writers that support this one and this is just a good thing that you should be thankful. Anyway the people on the above comments looks interested with this one.

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