MOJAVE – A rocket-plane racing league that wants to become the NASCAR of the skies is seeking race venues and teams. The Rocket Racing League issued Requests For Proposals for race venues and teams for its inaugural 2007-2008 season. The league expects to have 10 or more race teams in its first season. “The issuance of these RFPs is a significant milestone in getting Rocket Racing off the ground,” said Granger Whitelaw, president and chief executive officer of the league. “Efforts to assemble the teams, build and test rocket planes, and secure sponsorships and locations are steadily under way.” The league has contracted with XCOR Aerospace of Mojave and Velocity, a Sebastian, Fla., company, to design and build the first racing planes. XCOR will base the design of the first racers on its EZ-Rocket plane, a Long-EZ experimental aircraft modified to carry two rocket engines. XCOR will build the racers with airframes provided by Velocity. “The surrounding city or township can expect to see increased job creation as well as additional revenue generation through hotel and camping accommodations, restaurants, grocery and retail sales,” the league said in announcing the request for proposals. The request for proposals for the race teams requires a deposit of $100,000, held in escrow, for one of the race planes. Proposals must also contain the backgrounds of the team owners, information regarding pilots and must demonstrate the financial ability to cover the estimated up-front cost of $1.2 million and the estimated annual operating cost of $500,000 to $1 million per year, the league said. Teams are also asked to provide evidence of sponsorship sales and support capabilities. Initial letters of intent are due March 31, 2006, and written proposals are due May 31, 2006. The league has landed two notable pilots – former astronaut Rick Searfoss, a Tehachapi resident, and Erik Lindbergh, a commercial glider and test pilot and grandson of Charles Lindbergh. Searfoss is serving as the league’s chief test pilot while Lindbergh plans to be one of the pilots in the inaugural race. Two former F-16 fighter pilots – Robert “Bobaloo” Rickard and Don “Dagger” Grantham Jr. – have signed up as the league’s first team. The two Arizona-based pilots formed Leading Edge Rocket Racing LLC. “We are honored and delighted to have been selected by the Rocket Racing League as its first team,” Rickard said. “The prospect of competing against our peers under rocket power through a virtual track in the sky is thrilling. The roar of rocket power and a 20-foot trailing flame will redefine the concept of air racing.” The league was co-founded by Peter Diamandis, who created the $10 million Ansari X Prize awarded in 2004 to the Mojave-based SpaceShipOne team for the first private manned spaceflights. Diamandis envisions the league joining together entertainment with the pursuit of space technology. Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Each of the rocket planes is expected to have a top speed of about 320 mph. Each of the airplanes will be powered by a single engine feuled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, which should create a bright, 20-foot-long plume that will be visible to onlookers on the ground. Race courses will probably be two miles long and one mile wide at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. Each pilot will have an individual three-dimensional “track” in order to avoid collisions, league organizers said. Race organizers envision spectators tracking the progress of the racers by viewing each plane’s bright engine flame and by watching large-screen televisions. Organizers also envision having spectators watch the races with handheld devices with live video streams from cockpit cameras. The league plans to hold its semifinal races at the annual Reno Air Races, which are held each September, and its final races in October at the X Prize Cup, a private space industry exposition in New Mexico. The league issued a request for proposals for a site or sites for four of the six races planned for 2007. The league expects the winning venue provider will receive revenues through sponsorships, tickets, advertising, concessions, merchandising and parking.