The Red Bull Air Race will pass over the San Diego Bay airspace this Easter Weekend. This event will definitely give you wings. The Red Bull Air Race is a loud series of airplane races during which small planes navigate low to the water around air-filled pylons as fast as possible within an aerial racetrack.
Downtowners and chance visitors to the two Embarcadero Marina Parks on the bay (behind the San Diego Convention Center) got a free show on Friday. The 14 pilots vying for the 2017 Red Bull Air Race world champion title practiced on the course for the weekend competition.
It won’t be free to see the races over the weekend. Admission prices vary widely. The cheapest tickets to get onto one of the Embarcadero Marina Parks is $20 on Qualifying Day (Saturday, April 15). It’s $30 on Race Day (Sunday, April 16). A two-day general admission pass starts at $45, and VIP tickets range from $175 to $375 and up.
Burgers, Bait & Beer
On Friday, my wife and I sat on what will surely be the best seats in the whole venue for the Red Bull Air Races. There’s an eatery on Embarcadero Marina Park South called Burgers, Bait & Beer. It’s a shack, really. They serve beers on tap and fry up burgers and hot dogs. The golden ticket is a seat on the outdoor patio facing the aerial race course.
BB&B’s Baja burger is a juicy delight. We didn’t try the bait. But if you’re a regular fisherman at the park’s pier be advised that fishing is on hiatus during race weekend.
Also know that the Red Bull Air Race will affect the Coronado Ferry schedule. The ferry regularly leaves downtown San Diego on the hour, starting at 9 a.m., and arrives in Coronado and departs on the half hour. The ferry will still run, but since it traverses the race course hours will be irregular.
Red Bull Air Race 101
For a pair of novices sitting in prime seats, Practice Day for the Red Bull Air Race was interesting and noteworthy. The race planes are at the forefront of light aviation technology. The propeller-driven planes are fast and highly maneuverable.
The course is essentially an oval. Planes fly in from the south and pass over the Coronado Bridge. They swoop down to pass through the opening pair of pylons. The pylons are set aboard floating decks in the bay. Planes then zig and zag around singular pylons, do a wicked 180 turn at the north end of the course, then zigzag back.
The Easter wekend scheduling of this race seems oddly timed. But there’s excitement around downtown that the races are back. The last time San Diego was part of the eight-stop Red Bull Air Race world tour was 2009.
If you’re downtown this weekend—tearing into some Easter ham—don’t be alarmed if you hear what sounds like a giant horde of bees. It’s only (as Fantasy Island’s Tattoo would have said)…da planes.