Matthias Dolderer Racing added a new team member at the recent Red Bull Air Race stop in Russia: Lara, the World Champion's daughter. The 19-year-old just finished school and is helping out with the German team's social media presence, among other tasks. It's her first experience officially working in the hangars, but as someone who grew up with the sport, she's already an insider.
"She is burning for the Air Race – she loves it," Dolderer says. "We have a close relationship and before she goes to university she has time, so she's going to the Air Race with Dad. She has to learn how everything works and how the flow is, but she's getting it quickly."
It's been a good formula for other pilots. The 2014 World Champion Nigel Lamb (GBR) brought his son Max into the Breitling Racing Team, where the young tactician has remained after his father's retirement, supporting French pilot Mikael Brageot. Another French contender, François Le Vot, is often joined in the hangar by his daughter Cassandre, who takes on key communications tasks so the rest of FLV Racing Team 12 can focus on competition.
"Lara has been around the Air Race since 2009, when she was 11 or 12; and she knows everyone, so it's not new to her. Her being a part of it now is really cool," Dolderer states.
She seems to agree, explaining, "The Red Bull Air Race feels like a big family for me, and it's so great to be here. To see everyone again is the best part of it. The Air Race itself is so much fun, and there are so many people here with great stories. You get to hear and experience so much, and it's fantastic to have a team that you can work with and learn lots of things from."
For Lara's proud father, that experience is another part of the reason he's glad to have her on the team. "When young people get to know a lot of people from all over the world, their horizon just gets wider," he notes. "I think it's a good thing for the future to open your horizons and build your own vision by learning how others are working and thinking."
Lara is training toward getting her own pilot's licence, with her aunt Verena Dolderer serving as her flight instructor at the family's Tannheim Airfield flight school and her dad contributing his own extensive knowledge. But for the moment, her focus is on attending the races, and the fact that her father is also her boss doesn't seem to faze her.
"Sometimes he's a bit strict, but that's OK – his opinion really matters to me and I have a lot of respect for him. It's great to spend this time with him, too," Lara says. "I will do anything I can to help the team."
Besides diving into social media and assisting with other communications – a natural fit because Lara is fluent in English as well as her native German – she'll also take on extra duties, as she did in Kazan.
"Because my tactician Michael [Stock] was not there, she did part of his job as well: downloading the data, watching the other planes flying, and sending him the information to analyse," Dolderer shares.
So as an ultimate Red Bull Air Race insider and the person closest to the reigning World Champion, does Lara think her father has changed since winning the title in 2016? "I think he's still the same, he just knows that he can achieve a lot more – he knows he can be a World Champion and he knows that he can win," she answers. "Of course it's difficult to repeat the success he had last year, but I think we are all really, really motivated, the whole team. I'm really enjoying being here and working with him."