Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010, at 10:25 AM
Last Sunday, the energy drink giant Red Bull published the June issue of its new print magazine, the Red Bulletin , distributed, oddly enough, inside the New York Times . It's the kind of magazine that ought to come with a heavy-metal soundtrack and be tested for trace amounts of cocaine .
Among its brief but wondrous 100 pages were stories on Formula 1 racing, BMX biking, rock climbing, Penelope Cruz's hotness, and, of course, notes on some of the craziest sporting events on the horizon. Here the self-styled "almost independent monthly magazine" flaunts its autonomy, as nearly all of these upcoming events are also, coincidently, sponsored by Red Bull. Heavily promoted in the issue was the " Red Bull Air Race ," which took place this past Sunday. The event featured high-speed airplanes flying at low altitudes between twin pylons anchored in the water, all set (shockingly enough) against the gleaming backdrop of the New York skyline.
Red Bull is well-known for its support, development, and creation of extreme sporting events. Here's a rundown of the most bizarre competitions sponsored by everyone's favorite vodka mixer:
Flugtag: Conceived by Red Bull's founder himself, Dietrich Mateschitz, and first implemented in 1991, Flugtag — which literally means "flight day" — is one of the more youtelegenic Red Bull events. It consists of valiant but futile attempts by participants to defy gravity in makeshift flying machines. Contestants submit designs for approval that must meet certain basic criteria including a 450-pound weight limit (including the pilot) and a 30-foot maximum wingspan. They also must be entirely human-powered. The hulking contraptions are then essentially pushed off a cliff, at which point they inevitably plunge into the water below. The competition is judged on creativity, showmanship (there is a 30-second skit/dance), and flight distance. Currently, the U.S. distance record is 155 feet .
Rampage: Supposedly intended to put the mountain back in mountain biking , the Red Bull Rampage was inaugurated in 2001 in the rocky mountain terrain near Virgin, Utah. Riders are brought to a starting location, told where they need to end up, and then let loose . One rider, Josh Bender, famously rode down a 65-foot step-down gap, crashing before reaching the bottom. A subsequent rider, Kyle Strait, rode the same gap without using his hands.
Crashed Ice: Another Red Bull original, Ice Cross Downhill could only be born out of a desire to sell energy drinks. Competitors dress in full hockey gear and skates and race down slick bobsledlike courses over jumps, steps, ledges and — at least in its original manifestation — fish (the first race was run through Stockholm's fish market for some reason). According to a 2007 New York Times article , rather than pay for professional talent, the race relies on hockey players who haven't quite made the bigs.
X-Fighters: Promoted as an " innovative event concept mixing the extreme sport of freestyle motocross with the region's local bullfighting tradition ," the event is not, as Brow Beat originally had hoped, a high-stakes game of chicken between motorcycles and testosterone-fueled bulls. Instead, X-Fighters is a freestyle motocross competition, which started in Spain before moving to Mexico and, since 2007, has been on a world tour (the next event is June 26 in Russia). Riders are judged on various jumps, stunts, and tricks, all performed within the confines of traditional bullfighting arenas (except when on tour, obviously). Typical bullfighting fanfare surrounds the riders as they enter the ring, including horns, trumpets, and flags. At last year's event, one rider, Cameron Sinclair, was rushed to the hospital after failing to land an attempted backflip .
Dolomitenmann: Pretty much exactly what it sounds like — insane. The relay starts with a grueling uphill mountain run followed by a paragliding descent, whitewater rafting, and finally, mountain biking up about nine miles and then down another eight. It's the kind of high-performance sport that demands an energy drink that won't give you just wings, but also strokes .