1938 National Air Races


1938 Logo


Official Program
(Steve Zatroch collection)


Opening ceremony of the 1938 NAR with the US Marine Squadron
fly-by in Grumman F3F-4 's, our last bi-plane fighter.


Part of the Army's Squadron of Seversky P-35's


   The growth and expansion of the National Air Races and the Cleveland Airport had been somewhat coincidental.
 Behind  the  scenes one  finds  the hand of  Major  John  Berry,  airport commissioner. Under  his  direction,  the
 Cleveland Airport has gained top position among commercial airports of the world. The world's busiest airport is
able to maintain  operations  of the NAR  and commercial  traffic. Permanent stands to handle huge crowds and
  parking  for  about  30,000  automobiles  because  the  1040-acre  has  plenty  of  room. After  a  conference  in
Washington  following  the  successful 1937 Air Races  Cliff Henderson managing director announced that more
than $102,000 in prize money would be awarded in 1938. This allowed a full year for designers and builders to
make  ready  for the 1938 event.  A  change  in  racing  regulations announced that planes entered in the Bendix
 could  not be  entered in the Thompson Trophy Race. The 1938 NAR staged  as the second annual event, under
   the five year option obtained by the NAA organization. The organization  sponsoring the Cleveland show is a not-
     for- profit,  made  up  of  individuals  and  Corporations of  the City  of  Cleveland. There  were  only  three  major
  events  in the September 3-5  National Air Races, with only one race per day there had to be a lot of Military and
     stunt  flying going  on. Each  day after  the flag raising, the TEXACO  FIRE  CHIEF  BAND  played  the  National
  Anthem.  Len Peterson  opened  the day's events  with a novelty aerobatics act  flying a 2 place  90 h.p.135 mph  
    Dart,  courtesy  of  the  Dart Manufacturing Co. Harold Johnson flying the 6 ton Ford Tri-motor had the spectators
     spell-bound  with  loops, rolls  and  spins. Mike Murphy took off  and  landed a pontoon equipped Piper Cub from
    the  grass, he  later  took off  and  landed a  wheeled  Cub  from  the top  of  a  speeding  automobile.  Capt. Alex  
   Papana,  on leave from the Romanian  Air  Force was back again in  his  Bucher Jungmeister to perform a great     
   aerobatic routine. Champion Woman Glider Pilot of Germany, Hanna Reitsch performed aerobatics. Emil Kropf,   
    also of Germany, demonstrated the amazing short take-off and landing ability of the Feisler-Storch. New  records    
   were  posted in both  the  Greve and the Thompson  Trophy Races. Several  new  ships  in  this  year's  line -up.     



2-Place Dart Aircraft


German  Feisler Storch
demonstrated by Emil Kropf


Captain Hanna Reitsch and her glider
(The only woman Captain in the German Army)


Bendix Trophy Race

A  new rule for 1938,  no aircraft  entered  in  the Bendix  Race could  compete in the
Thompson Trophy Race. 10 starters left the Burbank Airport before dawn with storms
forecasted from Arizona to St Louis. Four of the starters were out due to mechanical
problems. Jackie Cochran and Frank Fuller were the favorites in their civilian version
of the new Seversky Army P-35.


Jackie Cochran's Seversky                                                                                Frank Fuller's Seversky

Paul Mantz Orion                                                                                                    Max Constant Beech

Ross Hadley Beech                                                                              Charles LaJatte Spartan

George Armistead Granville QED                                                                      Bob Perlick Beech 


Frank Cordova Bellanca                                                                                          Lee Gehlback Wedell-Williams

     Place            Pilot    Race No       Aircraft      Time
        1       Cochran        13    Seversky     249.77
        2       Fuller        77    Seversky     238.60
        3       Mantz        23    Lockheed     206.58
        4       Constant        31    Beechcraft      199.33
        5       Hadley        44    Beechcraft     181.84
        6       Hinchey        72    Spartan      177.45
     DNF       Armisted        61    QED        7
     DNF       Perlick        85    Beechcraft        8
     DNF      Cordova        99    Bellanca        9
     DNF      Gehlback        92     Wedell-Williams       10

7.  Out at Winslow AZ.
8.  Out at Wood River IL
9.  Out at Bloomington IL
10.  Out at Kansas City KS


Greve Trophy Race

Open  to Motors  of  549 Cubic inch Displacement  or less. Greve Trophy  Race 
20  laps on a 10 mile  course Total  Purse  $25,000  The  Cleveland  Pneumatic
Tool  Company  is  the  sponsor  of   the  LOUIS  W.  GREVE  TROPHY  RACE.
Tony LeVier flying the Keith Rider Firecracker went into the lead followed close
by Art Chester in his new racer "The Goon". The lead changed several times till
Chester cut a pylon giving LeVier a half a lap lead. LeVier won by seconds and
Chester  was  second. Joe Jacobson  was third in the new all wood Keith Rider
Eight Ball, Earl Ortman Flagged down in the 18th lap was awarded fourth place
in  the Marcoux-Bromberg  Jackrabbit. George Dory  flying another Keith Rider, 
crashed  into  trees on a dead end  street and was seriously injured but survived.



Tony LeVier flying the  Firecracker                                                                          Art Chester in his new Goon

Joe Jacobson flying Eight Ball                                                         Earl Ortman in  the Marcoux-Bromberg  Jackrabbit 


Crosby 's 
CR-4                                                                               George Dory in the Bushey-McGrew Special.


Tony LeVier with Louis Greve and trophy


Greve Trophy Race, 20 laps over a 10 mile course

   Place       Pilot  Race No      Aircraft      Speed
      1   LeVier       70    Firecracker     250.886
      2   Chester        5    Goon     250.416
      3   Jacobson       18    8  ball     218.478
      4   Ortman       22    Jackrabbit     192.503
    DNF   Crosby       52    CR-4           1
    DNF   Dory       17  Bushey-McGrew           2

1. Out on lap 14  exhaust manifold came off
2. Broken connecting rod. Crashed seriously injured


Thompson Trophy Race

Thompson_color_small.jpg (4318 bytes)


The  Thompson Trophy Race was also increased in number of laps to 300 miles
causing  existing racers to need larger fuel tanks. Three new aircraft entries were
     the  Keith Rider all  plywood R-6 Eight Ball and the Twin Wasp powered  Military
     Aircraft  HM-1developed from Frank Hawks Time Flies by Howell Miller. Another
  new  aircraft,  the   Pearson-Williams   "Mr. Smoothie"   powered   by  a  Curtiss
D-12Conqueror engine was capable of 375 mph. During a test flight the aircraft
 made a hard landing, causing damage to landing gear and was not able to race.   
   Earl Ortman was off to a good start and led the pack with his throttle at maximum
   power for five laps, his engine  could  not  stand the strain and Ortman had to pull
    back  on the power which  allowed  Turner to pass him and  move into first place.
  Roscoe  flew  a flawless race, never cut a pylon, his engine performed flawlessly.
  Earl Ortman  was able to hang on to second place and Steve Wittman was third.
    Roscoe Turner was now the only two time winner of the Thompson Trophy Race.


Fred Crawford congratulating Roscoe on winning the 1938 Thompson Trophy



Roscoe Turner Pesco Special                                       Earl Ortman Keith Rider


Steve Wittman Bonzo                                                 Leigh Wade Military Aircraft HM-1


Joe Mackey Wedell-Williams                                                                                         Joe Jacobson Eight Ball


    Place            Pilot   Race No          Aircraft      Speed
       1     Roscoe Turner       29    Laird-Turner     283.419
       2     Earl Ortman        3     Marcoux-Bromberg      269.718
       3     Steve Wittman        2    Bonzo      259.187
       4     Leigh Wade       41     Military Aircraft HM 1      249.824
       5     Joe Mackey       25    Wedell-Williams     249.628
    DNF     Joe Jacobson       18     Eight Ball          1

1. Out 27th lap


Photo's are from the Likovetz and Hansen collection unless otherwise noted.



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Updated Saturday, March 02, 2013