|Erich Wolf - General Manager, Red Bull Air Race|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 03 August 2015 11:16
Erich Wolf was appointed General Manager of the Red Bull Air Race GmbH in 2011. He successfully brought back the Red Bull Air Race Championship in 2014 after a 3-year hiatus.
Prior to joining the Red Bull Air Race, Wolf served in several positions at the Austrian Ministry of Defense (MoD). He became the Head of Air Staff at the MoD in 2001 and then became Commander of the Austrian Air Force in 2002
In addition, he organised and directed more than 30 airshows, such as the famous Air Power event in Zeltweg, Austria, which attracted 250,000 fans on each occasion. Winning the Military Solo Jet Aerobatic competition, the unofficial World Championship, in Greenham Common, UK in 1979 was his greatest achievement in his sports career.
You were appointed General Manager of Red Bull Air Race in 2011, what’s your background?
I served as operation pilot in the Austrian Air Force and was then promoted to the general staff and served in different positions in the air staff, the ministry of defence and finally in 2002 I was promoted to the commander of the Austrian Air Force.
During my career I organised about 30 air shows, such as the famous air power in Zeltweg, Austria, where some 250,000 fans are permanent visitors there and we run 10 hour air shows during the day.
Can you tell us about Red Bull Air Race?
The Red Bull Air Race started in 2005 as a world championship of air racing. It’s recognised, governed and supervised by the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, – The World Air Sports Federation), the global body governing and controlling aviation sport.
The 14 best pilots of the world are racing in this competition, low-level racing in tracks defined by air field pilots and flying 15-25 metres above ground. In 2014 we added the Challenger Cup, a second tier of competition where we aim to promote talented pilots to later become masterclass pilots.
How fast do the pilots go?
The pilots go up to 370km per hour, which is equivalent to 230 miles per hour and they have to fly perfectly through the track designed by air field pilots. If they hit, or they fly incorrectly through a gate they get the time penalty and at the end of the run, this penalty time is added to their lap time.
So it means it’s all about speed and precision, therefore we can say Red Bull Air Race is a unique and breath-taking experience.
How do you suggest your viewers to experience the Red Bull Air Race in Ascot?
Of course it’s a fantastic event and a fantastic possibility to invite your business partners. In Ascot you find different levels of hospitality fit to all the needs of different customers.
To select the right package for you and your guests visit redbullairrace.com and there you will find all information and ticketing links.
How important are sponsors to your organisation and events?
Sponsorship is a very important contributor to our commercial success. We’re happy partnering with some global brands such as DHL, Garmin and Breitling and we intend to grow our family of championship and team partners.
The Red Bull Air Race as a global series has a lot of brand values like innovative, competitive, courageous and is unique and therefore attractive for brands of different corporate worlds. Our vision is to create the ultimate motorsport series in the sky.
What sponsorship packages do you offer?
The Red Bull Air Race world championship has a global media outcome in more than 74 countries. We can create tailor made packages for marketing and communication projects, pushing the values of our partners’ brands.
Our experts can develop special activation projects such as press conferences, media days and moving images clips and all of this associated with flying activities and with the presence of our pilots is unique and attractive for our partners and potential partners, as the whole world championship is also a very important platform for our sponsors.
You are going to Ascot this month and then to Spielberg in September. How do you choose your destinations? What sort of markets are you aiming for?
The Red Bull Air Race is a global sporting phenomenon, we create maximum coverage in home countries for fans and pilots. We are aiming for long-term contracts and partnerships with our host city partners and we want to therefore create reoccurring races and based on that, we are creating reliable busy schedules for our fans. What makes the Red Bull Air Race so attractive is that it is a unique sport and because we are going to very attractive locations.
In addition, as we are seen as a motorsport, we have chosen more motorsport venues like Texas and the Las Vegas motor speed race in the United States. But we keep our tradition and we are going to the heart of the cities where we are very close to our fans, for example like Budapest, where we have been in the real heart of the city and racing in front of the parliament.
With the increased prominence of social media, have you utilised this to promote Red Bull Air Race?
Of course, we have created an outstanding performance especially on Facebook. We started in 2014 with about 140,000 fans, today we have more than 580,000, and this means in one year we now have four times more fans than when we started.
But we are also using our traditional media, so in 2014 we created 1.8 billion media contexts, which was an outstanding number for the first year of our new Red Bull Air Race and in a special case, we broke all records in Chiba (Japan) where we had more than 500 million media contexts. All in all, this means that Red Bull Air Race is more popular than ever.
What does the future hold for Red Bull Air Race?
We are convinced that there is a bright future ahead of us, four of our races have been honoured with awards, such as the Abu Dhabi Air Race becoming the best sporting event of the Middle East and we are proud of that.
In addition, we have held a successful race in Ascot Racecourse and this has been the first non-horse racing event for 100 years held on the grass of Ascot Racecourse.
So all in all we have delivered a strong product and we created a successful season in 2014 and we are already continuing in 2015.
But we are aiming for more, we are aiming for longevity partnerships with our host city partners and with our sponsors. We want to grow the sport of air racing globally with our partners and for and with our racing teams.