Remember the pod races in Star Wars? They're no longer fiction. Next year real-life pilots will blast straight up into the sky at speeds of nearly 300 m.p.h. in the new Rocket Racing League. X-Racer planes, each with one pilot, will rocket 1 mile up on invisible racetracks complete with gates to hit then glide back to Earth for refueling. "We've taken the Indy 500 and NASCAR and tilted it into the sky right in front of you," says league co-founder Peter Diamandis. "The vehicle will be loud, exciting, spewing a 15-ft.-long brilliant flame behind it." Demo runs are planned for this year.