LAS VEGAS (USA) – Hungary’s Peter Besenyei, one of the most successful pilots in the history of the Red Bull Air Race with eight career victories, announced on Sunday that he was retiring from the sport he helped develop in 2003. Besenyei, 59, won the title in the inaugural season in 2003 and has been a driving force behind its growth through his 10 seasons of high-speed, low-altitude racing.
“I've been flying for a long time, since the very beginning of the Red Bull Air Race, and I made a decision a few days ago that this will be my last season," said Besenyei, a fierce competitor who had a total of 22 podiums in the sport he helped go from an idea into the world's fastest motorsport series with planes racing at up to 370 km/h in front of enthusiastic crowds at locations around the world. "I'll be more focused on my family and spending more time with my family and flying more air shows."
Besenyei completed all ten seasons and ended his sterling career after his 66th race at the end of the 2015 season. One of Hungary’s most famous athletes, Besenyei was a driving force in the sport throughout his career. He was one of the founding fathers who helped develop the concept of the Red Bull Air Race. Besenyei gained worldwide fame in 2001 for flying upside down under the Chain Bridge in Budapest that spans the Danube River.
"It's an amazing event and I'm really happy to see how successful it has become," said Besenyei. "My heart will always be with it but not as as competitor any more."
He was also a driving force in helping Budapest stage the Red Bull Air Race eight times in the ten seasons years – the Hungarian capital, with its enthusiastic crowds watching the action from the banks of the Danube, shares the record for hosting the most number of races with Abu Dhabi. The starting line for the Red Bull Air Race in Budapest is underneath the Chain Bride, a tribute to Besenyei that makes the race in Hungary one of the most spectacular on the calendar.