There was no red-and-white big top tent. No crowds oohing, aahing and spilling their popcorn in amazement. No circus performers stuffing their heads in tigers’ jaws. No whips cracking. No elephants elevating on their hind legs, either.

For Brian Vickers and a handful of Red Bull Racing Team’s pit crew members, Monday was spent learning the art of trapeze at Trapeze School New York. Located on Pier 40 in Manhattan — above the banks of the Hudson River — Vickers took the leap of faith along with pit crew members Chad Avrit, Trey Burklin, Brian Dheel and Mike Metcalf (all with the No. 4 crew), as well as Wes Evans, Chuck Efaw and Bryan Jacobsen (No. 83).

The leap, about 40 feet up, included only a short horizontal bar hung by straps for support. The first-time aerial apparatus daredevils weren’t shy, as they swung and flew — solo and double — with nothing but bravery and a net below to comfort them.

“We had a blast,” Vickers said a day after racing 500 miles at Pocono Raceway. “You know me, when a new opportunity presents itself, I jump on it. Trapeze is something I have always wanted to try, and it was great to experience it with some of the guys as well. I always enjoy when I’m able to spend some time with them away from the race track. Flying through the air like we did is exhilarating — what a rush.”

“You know me, when a new opportunity presents itself, I jump on it."

It was a perfect New York City afternoon, too, as the training session was flanked by the Manhattan skyline on one side and the murky Hudson River on the other.

“It was sweet,” Dheel said. “The tall skyline in the back. Traffic flowing down. A cruise liner coming into port. You could see the Statue of Liberty off in the background.”

Monday’s participants and their usual day job sends them into harm’s way — fast-moving cars only feet apart and deafening sounds that can only be safely countered by repetitive training and nimble athletic ability. Which makes trapeze the perfect activity for these guys to cross off a bucket list.

“It was legitimate trapeze,” said Avrit, the rear tire changer on the No. 4. “You climb up, then you have to have faith in this individual who’s holding you from behind while you grab the pole with two hands that you’re getting ready to swing on. As you swing, the guy on the bottom is voicing commands at you. He’s telling when to put your feet up, when to let your hands go, when to prepare yourself for the next step.

“It’s complete silence up there. Absolutely no noise.”

“It’s complete silence up there. Absolutely no noise.”

Burklin and Dheel reminisced about their experience Tuesday morning, bantering back and forth in the offices of Red Bull Racing Team’s shop in Mooresville, N.C.

“The first run we did, we were doing back flips of off it,” said Burklin, the No. 4 jack man.

“I tried to attempt a double,” Dheel, also on the No. 4 crew, countered.

“Yeah, I don’t know what that was,” Burklin jabbed back.

“I flicked too soon,” Dheel said. “Needed to wait a couple of more seconds.”

“He was hovering above the net,” Burklin noted.

“They made it very clear,” Dheel added, “Stick your arms out and grab with your forearms. Not let him grab you. Grab him and not have him grab you.”

Keep in mind, trapeze, as most might think, is usually reserved for a smaller-framed individual rather than 6-foot-4, 200-pound men that are accustomed to strength and speed, not aerial grace.

“When the bigger guys would go, you could see the guy catching — his torso would like stretch out as big these guys would grab and all their weight would grab on the bottom of the swing,” Burklin said. “He went from 5-11 to like 6-2.”

Prior to the trapeze outing, Vickers and Co. spoke to Red Bull employees at a luncheon in SoHo. The topic, called “Fit for Flight,” addressed eating right, taking care of your body and staying in shape.

"We experienced New York in a whole new way. Trapeze … I never imagined I’d ever get to do something like that."

“I had a blast. An actual blast,” Dheel said. “We experienced New York in a whole new way. Trapeze … I never imagined I’d ever get to do something like that. I enjoyed it more than a pit stop. It’s not as intense, but to do something that unique, something that no one gets to do — I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.



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