Lexus, despite its luxury branding, partakes in motorsports. You can spot its RC F competing in various series such as Super GT, Super Taikyu, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It has even been entering the LC500 in endurance events such as the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
Now, the automaker is throwing its hat into air racing by announcing the Lexus/Pathfinder Air Racing team. It will take part in the Air Race World Championship, a new series built upon the success of the popular Red Bull Air Race which was canceled in 2019. Think of it as the Formula 1 equivalent for airplanes. There will be 94 races across 21 countries, and entrants will compete in four different classes.
The pilot for the team is Yoshihide Muroya, who has been taking part in the Red Bull Air Race since 2009. Lexus has sponsored Muroya since 2016, with the partnership creating a “Technology Exchange Group” in 2017. This allowed both parties to test and discover new technologies that could be used in both aircraft and automobiles.
An example was the development of a control-column grip which incorporates sensitivity tech developed by Lexus, and information from vehicles’ aerodynamic testing allowed Muroya’s aircraft to improve its turning capabilities. As for Lexus, the optional carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic rear spoiler for the LC500 was developed with know-how used in aircraft design.
This give-and-take relationship will continue to help advance the engineering used in vehicles toward the eventual goal of a carbon-neutral future, just like how innovations first seen in F1 have trickled down to road cars.
Aside from air racing, Muroya will also help cultivate those interested in developing the next generation of mobility. With the cooperation of Fukushima Prefecture and several local companies, the team will create an airfield for testing and instructional education around light-sport-aircraft manufacturing.
You’ll be able to catch Lexus/Pathfinder Air Racing and Yoshihide Muroya in the first event of the Air Race World Championship, which is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022.