Red Bull has a history of surprising us with spectacular events like throwing a person into the atmosphere or doing sky-high F1-car doughnuts in Dubai. Obviously, this is a big part of why so many people love the brand and it’s one of the best examples of modern marketing. The Support Team Manager of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Tony Burrows, shares some of his thoughts on these events.
Over the past few years, I think one of my most memorable events was the run in the Himalayas. We simply had a great time up there, met absolutely unbelievable people living in extremely harsh conditions and we managed to get the car to run, which was an achievement in itself! The Texas event, for example, just seemed so surreal at the time – we were running through the desert with David Coulthard driving, with cattle around and being chased by horses. My personal favourite was driving the car on ice in Quebec, Canada. That was something I never dreamed I would ever see – a Formula 1 car with studded tyres driving on a frozen lake.
I am absolutely sure that Red Bull will come up with another strange and creative place to run a Formula 1 car, which is why I love my job.
Sometimes the local Red Bull market would come up with an original idea and we work on it from there. Some people have very extreme ideas and they might not realise what a Formula 1 car is and isn’t capable of – that’s where I come in – to explore what can be achieved and come up with the best possible spectacle.
For the aforementioned running on ice, I flew out to Quebec and did a recce with them where we looked at the ice to see what was technically possible. There was a lot of planning from what they wanted to do and what we could do because normally we have to try and keep everything cool, the engine, the brakes, the hubs – it all gets too hot. We had the opposite problem in Quebec – everything was getting too cold! We had to try and keep heat in the brakes, heat in the bearings so that the grease didn’t freeze, so there were lots of challenges there.
The work varies a lot depending on the event, obviously. The car preparation for a lot of the events is pretty much the same, we don’t modify it too much unless it is something VERY unusual. It’s usually a week to build the car properly and efficiently, get all the freight packed up and then it’s a case of how long it takes to fly or drive (if we take a truck) to the location.
Sometimes we have to find some interesting ways of getting the car where it needs to go – for example, last year we did a street run in Dubai followed by doughnuts on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab. It was truly exciting to get the car from the ground to however many thousand feet that was. We strapped it underneath a helicopter and lowered it onto the helipad, which is another sight I won’t forget!
I am absolutely sure that Red Bull will come up with another strange and creative place to run a Formula 1 car, which is why I love my job. The challenge of ‘do you think you can do that?’ is worth living for. Normally people would say ‘don’t be stupid’, but we try and achieve it at Red Bull, no matter what we have to do. From the events we do and from my experience, I think the craving for Formula 1 is still out there. To go to an event where you’re getting all your senses bombarded with noise, smoke and meet the drivers is just remarkable.