Team Chambliss On The 2019 Season
This year, Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss has a chance to move up to second place on the all-time race wins list and claim his third season crown. Here, he and his teammates share their perspectives on how they define success – and what it will take to achieve it.
Chambliss himself is not counting race wins. “For Team Chambliss, success would be to win the World Championship,” he states. “To do that you have to win races, of course. When you win enough races, the Championship will follow.”
Team Coordinator Kayla Layton says, “I think the key this year is eliminating any and all distractions during race week. The Red Bull Air Race is just one part of what Team Chambliss does year-round, and sometimes it is hard to put other events and tasks out of our brains. We need to be all race, only race during race week.”
Tactician Paulo Iscold expresses similar thoughts: “With large breaks in the calendar and little time with the aeroplane this season, our team needs to focus during race week and not allow all the exterior distractions to take us out of pace. We will put extra focus on making sure the plane is ready to go for Kirby each and every flight.”
In turn, Chambliss says his biggest focus is to fly the raceplane clean, a task that may be more challenging while he gets accustomed to a new raceplane system configuration that was implemented when a rule change impacted one of the team’s custom innovations. “It has changed the feeling of the aeroplane, specifically in the vertical turns,” he reveals. “We’re at a very big disadvantage with this and the lack of time with the plane.”
After the raceplanes arrived in Europe for the upcoming stop in Russia, some teams accessed their aircraft, but Team Chambliss are based in the American Southwest. “We’d love to have our raceplane like the Europeans do. We haven’t had time to change anything,” the pilot comments. “I’ll have to do the best I can to get readjusted to the raceplane with such a long break in flying it.”
Rounding out Team Chambliss is a new technician, Peter Conway, who began working with the team at the end of the 2018 season and officially took on the Technician role at the 2019 opener. Taking over for Chambliss’s longtime Technician Jason Resop could have been an intimidating proposition, but Conway says, “The opportunity to work for and with legends like Kirby Chambliss and Paulo Iscold sealed the deal, and I couldn't be happier about the team I am on.”
Conway has an upbeat outlook and proven skills – he was the Technician for Yoshihide Muroya’s World Championship-winning campaign in 2017. “A good attitude is contagious. I just hope the other teams don't find that secret out!” he smiles. “It’s important to keep positive and truly remember how lucky we are to be racing aeroplanes all over the world. Open communication and a willingness to learn from mistakes is also key. If someone on the team sees something we could be doing better, the ability to talk about it, brainstorm and come up with a ‘fix’ at an open table discussion is another key to a successful team.”
Chambliss is more than willing to consider fresh suggestions. “The good thing about having a consistent team is that you know what everyone is capable of. But when you bring someone in new from the outside, they can exceed your expectations or bring in some new ideas,” he notes.
The second stop of the season, Kazan, is approaching in June. Chambliss has stood on the podium in both of the previous races at the Russian sporting capital, capturing the win in 2017 and finishing third last year. “If the cards fall correctly, we CAN get the World Championship,” Conway affirms. “Our aeroplane is fast, our team is strong and we have the most experienced pilot. I would like to see us in the Final 4 at every race this season.”