In this day and age of contrived sporting events (basketball games with style points?) it’s time we turned our attention back to day when sports were sporting and athletes were athletic. For that reason the time has come to launch HPMBRL, the Human-Powered Mini-Blimp Racing League. It would be like the Tour de France in 3-D, with elements of the America’s Cup thrown in.
Best of all, it would be very photogenic, and there would be lots of surface area for sponsor’s logos.
To get off the ground the league would need star power. Who better than retired world-class cyclists? Would people pay to see Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault (probably spelled that wrong) go head to head once more? You bet they would.
So who would the likely sponsors be? It would be fun to see Boeing sponsor a team, and maybe Rutan’s company—the crew that build SpaceShipOne. Bicycle companies would be naturals, as many of their components would be used in the blimps’ drive trains. Fuji already has a blimp presence, and a photogenic sport would be a natural for a photography company. I could imagine GM or Ford sponsoring a team.
I haven’t figured out the actual rules for the race, but I can imagine a series of great big hoops suspended at various heights above the ground that the fliers must pass through, or perhaps simpler would be a simple requirement that they pass over a certain sopt on the ground. In the hoop scenario, there would be a great deal of emphasis on positioning and tactics as the flyers approached the hoop.
Wind, of course, would be a major factor. Courses would be designed with the prevailing wind of the area in mind. There would be legs of the race that featured long, hard climbs into the wind, and others that would allow the blimps to sweep down to where they are practically skimming the Earth as they are swept along with a tailwind, knocking the hats off the awe-struck spectators.
So there you have it. HPMBRL (probably need a better acronym) extends the careers of great athletes, pushes technology, looks cool, and would be a sponsor magnet. What could possibly go wrong?