A Concise History of Air Racing

                                                          By Don Berliner


            Air racing has been part of the scene almost as long as airplanes have been flying.  It has survived despite frequent and serious shortcomings and limitations because of its simple, obvious appeal.  It is the simplest form of aerial competition (the pilot of the airplane in front is winning!), and is the fastest form of motor racing, in which the best racers whip around at double the speed of the fastest race cars. 

            The following concise history is aimed primarily at those who are visiting the Society’s website for the first time, and who have little or no prior knowledge of the sport.  For those who wish more detailed information we suggest joining our Society, reading our newsletter, attending our International and/or European Symposiums, and making use of our Internet billboard. 

            Regardless, you are most welcome to visit at any time for your enjoyment and your education.

 Chapter I – The Early Days

 Part 1 -- 1909

 The First Air Race at Reims

              Just as auto racing was born just a few years after the invention of the automobile, so air racing followed quickly on the achievement of heavier-than-air flight.  It is apparently in man’s nature to use any type of locomotion to go as fast as possible for sport as well as practicality.

             The invention of air racing came in August, 1909, at Reims. France, just a few tens of miles to the northeast of Paris.  It was the Great Week of the Champagne, where vineyards for that classic beverage stretch to the horizons.  Until then, few people had seen an airplane on the ground, let alone in the air, and so hundreds of thousands descended on what had been a large vacant field for as long as anyone could remember.

             The schedule called for contests to challenge pilots, mechanics and builders in all aspects of flight: distance, duration, altitude, and of course SPEED.  Most of Europe’s top aeronauts were there, but only Glenn Curtiss traveled from America.  The Wright Brothers were focussed on the business of building airplanes, while others may not have realized the significance of this first public gathering of the men who had conquered gravity.

             Once the rain had eased and the area surrounding the ornate grandstands had dried out, airplanes were rolled out of their hangars and their pilots and crews prepared to better their rivals and the existing records.  Large cash prizes, trophies and the adulation of the huge crowds combined to motivate the most experienced, along with some true rookies, to take to the sky and show the world what they could do.

             There were six major events, along with numerous lesser ones.  Of the major competitions, one was for duration, one was for altitude and the other four were for speed around the six-mile, four-pylon course.  It is Clear what excited the organizers, the competitors and thus the crowd.  The battle for speed was mainly between Frenchman Louis Bleriot, who had recently conquered the English Channel, and Glenn Curtiss, who had designed and built not only his airplane but its engine.  

                                                 Curtiss 09 small.JPG (137953 bytes)
                                                 Glenn Curtiss, the first winner   

         The event that survived for years was the James Gordon-Bennett Race, for two laps around the course, and open to solo attempts on just one day, unlike most of the others which could be flown any day and any number of times.  Bleriot’s best was 15:56.2, but was bettered by Curtiss with 15:50.6 for an average of 47.07 mph.  To the sole American competitor went what would become the first classic air racing trophy and first prize of 25,000 francs.

             When the full week of aerial competition ended, hundreds of thousands of people had seen air racing, and many times that many had read about it in their newspapers.   The sport was suddenly alive and thriving.

                                                                   G Bennett Trophy.TIF (5223748 bytes)
                                                        Gordon Bennett Trophy

Part 2 – 1910

 The First American Air Race

             The next year saw air racing come to the USA for 10 days—January 10 to 20, at Dominguez Field, outside Los Angeles.   Despite efforts by the Wright Brothers to interfere via legal actions claiming patent infringements, the event went off well, attracting hundreds of thousands to the first public airplane flights west of the Rocky Mountains.  Pre-race ads trumpeted a total purse of $80,000.

             The entry list for speed and distance events included 10 pilots, flying 11 airplanes.   The best known were Louis Paulhan, who arrived from France with a Farman biplane and a Bleriot monoplane, and Glenn Curtiss in a new Curtiss biplane.

             The long-term impact of the meet was not its racing action, nor its many failed attempts to break records.  It was in the introduction of aviation to a completely new audience, and the resultant, sudden expansion of airplane building, pilot training and general enthusiasm for everything related to this new form of transportation.            

The London-to-Manchester Race

                      The first true cross-country race was over the 185 miles from London to Manchester, England, for a prize of £10,000 (then equal to $50,000) offered by the Daily Mail newspaper.  After abortive starts, it got underway at 5:40 p.m. on April 27, when Louis Paulhan took off in a Farman biplane.  Just over an hour later, Claude Grahame-White left in his earlier model Farman.

             Two hours later, Paulhan landed after flying 57 miles farther.  But Grahame-White took off again at 2:30 the next morning, more concerned with wining than with the obvious dangers of night-time flying over unlit countryside.  He was forced down by high winds after less than two hours of the most difficult flying.  Paulhan, who had taken off at 4 a.m., managed to continue on to the finish.  His time was 4 hours, 12 minutes for an average speed of 44 mph.

             The race was really the first public demonstration of cross-country flying, and showed that it could be conducted under pressure and despite high winds and without even the crudest forms of navigational equipment.

  The Second Gordon Bennett Race

             When Glenn Curtiss won the first Gordon Bennett Race, it became the duty of the USA to stage the second, which was soon scheduled as the feature of the first major air race in America, October 22-30 at Belmont Park, Long Island, New York.  By scheduling the meet so late in the year and on an island jutting into the Atlantic, cold and windy conditions were guaranteed.

             The Gordon Bennett Race was for 20 laps around the 5-km./3.1-mi., pylon-marked course.  Claude Grahame-White, of England, set the pace in his new, modified  French 100 hp Bleriot XIbis monoplane, with a total time of 1:10:04.74 and a speed of   61.0 mph, which was a new world record for the distance.  Next to fly was Alfred LeBlanc, of France, in a stock Bleriot XI.  Each of his lap times was faster than Grahame-White’s, and all were much more consistent.  By the end of Lap 19, LeBlanc was leading by more than five minutes

             Then, racing luck intervened when LeBlanc ran out of gas on the last lap.  While making a dead-stick landing, he smashed into a telegraph pole, demolishing his airplane, but escaping with minor injuries.  Almost an hour back in second place was American John Moissant, whose Bleriot XI averaged 33.7 mph.

             The meet ended on a sour note as the rules for the race to the Statue of Liberty and back became embroiled in a dispute, and many of the pilots boycotted the awards banquet.  But it had demonstrated the rapid advances in airplane performance to the world.     

Part 3 – 1911

 Circuit of Europe Race 

            There was no lack of imagination in air racing’s early years.  The Circuit of Europe Race, scheduled for June 18 to July 7, would start in France, go to Belgium, then to the Netherlands, back to Belgium and France, across the England and finally back to France, for a total of almost 1,000 miles.  A purse of more than $90,000 attracted scores of pilots, few of whom had done much cross-country flying, and none under pressure.  Most of their airplanes lacked the durability for such a long grind, while navigation aids were still in the future.  But it was a time in which courage seemed to matter more than skill and experience. 

               Of the 42 who started, fewer than half made it to the end of first leg.  One observer and one competitor crashed fatally at the start, though there were no more fatalities.  As the others chugged along, engines quit at the most awkward moments, airframes broke on hard landings, and pilots got lost and sometimes landed in the wrong country. 

            Eight pilots made it all the way back to Paris, though only one was flying an airplane that hadn’t been completely rebuilt or even replaced.  The winner, Jean Conneau, flew a Bleriot, completing the distance in 58 ½ hours for a speed of 17 mph and winning by more than three hours.  He and all the other starters learned valuable lessons about the need for pre-race preparation, practice, and a qualified ground crew.  

The Third Gordon Bennett Race

             The race was held July at Eastchurch, England, and provided the closest finish in any race to date, along with the first race-modified airplane seen.  Gustave Hamel’s Bleriot had its wings severely clipped, with the major result being to reduce the effectiveness of his wing-warping roll control.  He failed to complete his first pylon turn, slamming into the ground and demolishing his airplane, while escaping with no serious injuries. 

            The surprise winner was Charles Weymann, an American born in Haiti, whose Clean 100 hp Nieuport completed the 25 laps of the 6-km./3.7-mi. course in 1:11:36.2 for an average of 78.11 mph.  Close behind was last year’s hard-luck pilot, Alfred LeBlanc, in a Bleriot, who was clocked in 1:13:40.2 for 75.91 mph.  Third was Edward Nieuport in one of his own airplanes in 1:14:37.2 and 74.98 mph.  

             The formula for long-term success in air racing was taking shape: more horsepower and less aerodynamic drag.

 The Circuit of Britain Race

             The third major race of the year was a 1,010-mile cross-country event having 11 compulsory stops, which started and finished at Brooklands, site of the world’s first paved auto race track.  Twenty-one airplanes started, thanks in no small part to the $50,000 first prize offered by the Daily Mail newspaper.  Half of them were British aeroplanes, flown by British pilots.           

Only one Britisher finished, with the winner being Lt. Conneau in a Bleriot, who completed the course in 22 hours, 28 minutes to average 45 mph.  Emile Vedrines was second in a new type, the Deperdussin monoplane, as was third-placer James Valentine.  The top British finisher was Samuel Cody in one of his own biplanes.  

With this, the superiority of the monoplane was well on the way to becoming established.   The winners of all three 1911 races flew them, as did two of the runners-up. 

 Part 4 – 1912  

The First Handicap Air Race

             Hendon Aerodrome, now the site of the RAF Museum, north of London, was the scene on April 14th of the first organized (rather than impromptu) handicap race.  Many hundreds of such races have been held in England right up to the present, in which the greatly varying speeds of the airplanes are balanced out by handicapped starting times.  This permits a wide variety of airplanes to be raced. 

            The hitoric air race was the Cross-Country Handicap for the Grahame-White Cup #3 and a purse of 20 gold sovereigns ($100).  Extending for two laps of the course (to Harrow Church and back), it was won by Bentfield Hucks in a 50 hp Bleriot, followed by Jimmy Valentine in a Bristol Prier P.1, and Gustave Hamel in a Bleriot.  This kind of racing stresses piloting skill, and traditionally produces very close finishes.      

Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe Race

             The first of three separate series of races sponsored by Henri Deutsch de la Muerthe, a French newspaper tycoon, was for a single 124-mile (200-km.) lap around Paris on May 1.   The winner was Emmanuel Helen, in a 70 hp Nieuport, who covered the course in 1 hour, 36 minutes, averaging 77.85 mph.   

The Aerial Derby

             The first in another series of major races was run on June 8 at Hendon Aerodrome.  It consisted of a single lap of 81 miles.  The winner, in a field of six monoplanes and one biplane, was T.O.M. Sopwith in a two-seat Bleriot in 1:23:08 for a speed of 58.46 mph.  Second was Gustave Hamel in an identical airplane, and third was W.B. Rhodes-Morehouse in Radley-Morehouse, which resembled a Bleriot, but had a fully enclosed fuselage. Sopwith, later famous for his biplane scouts and pursuits, received the Daily Mail Gold Cup and $1,250.  

The Fourth Gordon Bennett Race

             The second Gordon Bennett Race to be held in America was on September 9 at Clearing, near what is now Chicago’s Midway Airport.  The race was for 30 laps of the 4.14-mile course.  A small crowd was on hand, due in part to the poor location, and to advance publicity which predicted a runaway win by the French. 

            The great hope of the American Team was the “Defender”, which looked like an improved Bleriot.  When it wasn’t ready in time, only Paul Peck and his Columbia biplane remained, and they were stuck at the starting line with a flat tire.

            The French completed the expected Clean sweep.  First was Jules Vedrines, in a slick Deperdussin monoplane, in 1:01:51 for a record speed of 105.5 mph.  Maurice Prevost was second in an identical airplane, in 1:15:25 for 103.8 mph.  Andre Frey, flying a Hanriot monoplane, dropped out late in the race while averaging 94 mph.

             Speed flying was fast becoming the preserve of the French, who held most of the important world records and trophies. 

Part 5 – 1913  

The First Schneider Cup Race

            Jacques Schneider was a great supporter of water-borne aircraft, even though the first seaplane had flown barely two years before.  His new Schneider Cup Race series was aimed at stimulating technical progress in seaplanes by offering cash prizes and a trophy which would soon achieve great stature in aviation. 

            The first race was held over the Mediterranean Sea, just offshore at Monaco, on April 14-16.  Of six seaplanes at the site, four were ready to start the 28-lap race around a 20-km. (12 ½-mi.) closed course.  One, Roland Garros in a Morane-Saulnier, was delayed in starting.  Of the remaining three, the winner was Maurice Prevost in a Deperdussin Monoplane, which was much larger than the company’s landplane racers.  Prevost was timed at 2:50:47 for 45.7 mph.  He originally finished while on the water, then had to take off again and complete a flying finish. 

Neither of the other two starters finished, as both Charles Weymann  and Gabriel Espanet experienced oil leaks in their Nieuports and dropped out.  Garros eventually finished but was not timed.  Competitively, it was not much of a race, but it lit a fire which soon blazed throughout aviation. 

The Aerial Derby  

            At Hendon Aerodrome on September 20, the Aerial Derby was run over one lap of a 94.5-mile course which had five turning points.  Eleven of the original 15 entries started the race, with the winner being Gustave Hamel in another severely clipped-wing Morane-Saulnier.  He completed the course in 1:15:49 for a speed of 76 mph, good for the Gold Cup and $1,000.  In second was R.H. Barnwell, flying a Martin-Handasyde at 72.5 mph, while in third was Frederick Raynham, flying the prototype of the Avro 504 at 66.5 mph. 

The Gordon Bennett Race` 

            The race was held on September 29 at Reims, site of the historic first race in 1909.  Eight of the nine entries flew monoplanes, and only Henri Crombez, a Belgian, interrupted what would have been an all-French field after Great Britain, Germany and the USA had withdrawn. The race consisted of 20 laps of the 10-km./6.21-mi.) course for a total of 124 ¼ miles. 

            The 14-cylinder, 160 hp Gnome-powered Deperdussins dominated a very close race, with Maurice Prevost winning at a record 124.78 mph to become the first to fly 200 km. in less than one hour.  Barely a minute behind him at the finish was Emile Vedrines, the brother of Jules, in a Ponnier at 122.53 mph.   Just as close behind him was Eugene Gilbert in a second Deperdussin at 118.51 mph.  Bringing up the rear was Crombez in a third Deperdussin, at 106.73 mph.  The superiority of this type of wonderfully streamlined monoplane was proven beyond question.               

The Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe Race

             The final race in the first series of Coupe Deutsch Races was held October 27 on a course around Paris.  The winner was Eugene Gilbert in a Deperdussin Monocoque at an average speed of 101.944 mph.  This was the last gasp for the highly successful make of racers, as manufacturer Armand Deperdussin was imprisoned for having established his company with embezzled money.  His company then became part of S.P.A.D.  

Part 6 – 1914  

The Second Schneider Cup Race

             The second race in this series was held April 20 at the same place as the first, and conducted over the same course and for the same number of laps.  At least 11 seaplanes were entered, while five started and just two finished.  All the entries were standard types, many of them landplanes with pontoons added. 

            It was an easy win for Englishman Howard Pixton in the float-equipped Sopwith Baby, called the Sopwith Schneider. His speed of almost 87 mph was almost double the race record, and could not be approached by any known seaplane.  The only other finisher was Ernest Burri, of Switzerland, in an F.B.A.  He finished more than an hour later, due in part to the need to land and re-fuel.  All the other entries either failed to start the race, or dropped out.

  The Circut of Britain

            This race suffered from the traditionally poor English weather, being postponed from May 23 to June 6, and then run in thick mist on a 94.5-mile course around the city of London. 

            The winner was American William Brock, flying an 80 hp Morane Saulnier at 71.9 mph to win the Daily Mail and Shell Trophies, along with 300 gold sovereigns ($1,500).  Following him were R. H. Carr and Pierre Verrier in Henry Farman biplanes. 

The London-Paris-London Race 

            Longer cross-country races were growing in popularity, one of the most interesting in this era being a 500-mile run on July 11 between the two European capitals in a hint of future busy airline routes.  Seven pilots started from Hendon Aerodrome, with six being French, and five flying monoplanes. 

            The winner was again American William Brock in his Morane with a speed of 71.5 mph and time of 7:03:06.  The other favorite, Lord Carberry in a Bristol Scout, was doing well until his engine quit on the return flight and he landed safely in the English Channel. 

The Aerial Derby 

            This was to have been the last major race of the year and was scheduled for August 10.  Unfortunately, the First World War was declared on July 28, putting an end to all civilian flying for the duration. 

            Up to this point, air racing was a pretty simple sport, with no classes anywhere but the Schneider which was limited to seaplanes.  Otherwise, a pilot could enter an airplane of any shape, size and power.   With rare exceptions, all the airplanes raced in the first few years of the sport had open cockpits, fixed landing gears, fabric covering and lots of struts and wires.  Bigger engines were finding their way into otherwise stock airplanes, and the beginnings of streamlining could be seen.  

Chapter II – The Post-World War One Era            

Part 1-1919

            The “War to End All Wars” was over.  Thousands of pilots and airplanes flooded the very limited market.   One use for them was in airplane racing, which played a major role in making people air-minded.  

  The Fourth Aerial Derby

             The first major air race after the war was the British Aerial Derby, run on June 21 from Hendon, for two laps of the 94 ½-mile pre-war course around London.  Thirteen of the 16 original entries started and nine finished.   The winner was Capt. Gerald Gathergood in a converted deH.4 bomber whose lower wing had been clipped so much it became a sesquiplane. He won $2,500 and the Gold trophy.  In second was Lt. Robert Nisbet, in a little Martinsyde Buzzard, at 124.61 mph.

The Third Schneider Cup Race 

            Fog was the winner of this race, which was started at Bournemouth, England, on September 10th Of four seaplanes that took off, only one completed the 10-lap, 222-mile course—Guido Janello in a Savoia S.13bis—but he missed a pylon on each lap.  The race was declared “no contest”, but the Italians were allowed to organize the next one.   

The Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe “Air Race Around Paris” 

            The second race by this name was for a single 118-mile lap around Paris, and could be attempted any time during the year starting October 13, 1919.  A pilot could make as many attempts as desired.  

            Fourteen attempts were made by just four pilots, all of them French.   The highest speed was166.919 mph by Bernard de Romanet in a SPAD S.20bis, followed by Sadi Lecointe’s 165.480 mph in a Nieuport 29V. 

Part 2 – 1920  

The Fifth Aerial Derby 

                This year the race was for two laps of the 100-mile course, and was a combination scratch (all-out speed) and handicap event, starting and finishing at Hendon on Sept. 20-22.  Fourteen pilots entered and nine finished.  Winner of the scratch race was test pilot Frank Courtney at 153.45 mph in the little Martinsyde “Semiquaver”, well ahead of Harry Hawker in the Sopwith “Rainbow”, who was disqualified for failing to cross the finish line properly.  In the handicap race, first place went to H.A. Hammersley in an Avro 543 Baby.          

The Fourth Schneider Cup Race 

            The race was held September 20-22 at Venice, Italy, for 10 laps of a 23.3-mile triangular course.  When entries from Great Britain, Switzerland and France failed to arrive, the Italians launched a single seaplane—Luigi Balogna’s Savoia S.12bis—as a formality.  He completed the course in 2:10:35 for an average speed of 107.1 mph, which was a Schneider Race record. 

The Sixth James Gordon Bennett Race 

            It was held September 28, for three round trips of a 62-mile straight course between Etampes and Gidy, France.  There were starters from the USA, Great Britain and France.  Most interesting was the Dayton-Wright RB-1, a private, custom-built American racer featuring a flush canopy, fully retractable landing gear and a wing with both leading-edge and trailing-edge flaps. 

            Four of the six pilots dropped out with mechanical trouble, though George Kirsch had a first lap at 178 mph.  The winner, at an average of 168.732 mph, was Sadi Lecointe, in a Nieuport 29V.  In second was Bernard de Romanet in a SPAD S.20bis; his average speed of 112.851 mph would have been much higher if not for a stop.  Howard Reinhart’s race in the RB-1 ended on lap 1 when his rudder cable broke. 

            When the French won the trophy for the third time in a row, they retired it and the Gordon Bennett Race series ended. 

The First Pulitzer Trophy Race 

            Two months later, the first purely American series of pylon races began, sponsored by the Pulitzer brothers, owners of major newspapers.  The first race was held at Mitchell Field, Garden City, Long Island, New York, for four laps of a 29-mile course.  Thirty-eight pilots entered and took off individually, 

            Most pilots flew American-built Army deH.4 World War I single-engined bombers, along with Navy Vought VE-7’s and SE5A’s.  Only a few pilots were civilians. 

            The winner was Capt. Corliss Moseley, flying a Verville-Packard VCP-R racer, a Cleaned-up version of the Army’s VCP-1 pursuit, at 156.54 mph.   In second was Harold Hartney in a standard Thomas-Morse MB-3 pursuit at 148.19 mph.  Over half the 24 finishers flew deH.4’s. 

Part 3 – 1921 

 The Sixth Aerial Derby

            It was run July 16, again out of Hendon for two laps of the 100-mile course.  Half the dozen entries failed to finish.  Winner of both the Speed and Handicap competitions was Jimmy James, flying the prototype Gloster Mars I, powered by a 450 hp Napier Lion II engine.  He averaged 163.34 mph, well ahead of Cyril Uwins, in the Bristol Type 32 Bullet, with its 400 hp Bristol Jupiter I engine, at 141.38 mph. 

The Fifth Schneider Cup Race 

            The race was conducted August 6-7 at Venice, Italy, on a 13.3-mile course which would have to be flown for 16 laps.  Almost all the entries were flying boats, though some had been well streamlined.  The sole French entry—Sadi Lecointe’s Nieuport-Delage 29—was damaged during pre-race trials and withdrawn.  This left only Italy in the race. 

            Two Macchi M.7’s (de Briganti and Corgnolino) and one M.19 (Arturo Zanetti) started.  Zanetti dropped out on lap 12 with a broken crankshaft.  Corgnolino ran out of fuel on the last lap, while leading.  This left only Giovanni de Briganti, in the M.7bis, who finished at a record 117.8 mph.   With this, there had been three consecutive unsatisfying and non-competitive Schneider Races.  There would be a lot of pressure on the organizers of the next race. 

The Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe Race    

            On October 1, the next Coupe Deutsche Race was run on the Etampes-la Marmogne course for three laps and a total of 186 miles.  The starters included one British, one Italian and three French pilots.  Only two of the Frenchmen finished, with first place taken by Georges Kirsch in a Nieuport-Delage Sesquiplane at 172.994 mph.  In secnd was Fernand Lasne in a Nieuport-Delage 29V biplane at 159.880 mph.  The others were out by lap two.   

The Second Pulitzer Trophy Race 

            Omaha, Nebraska, was the site for this unusually late November 3-5 race, with a much smaller field that lacked the stock deHavilland deH.4s and other standard military types.   The race would be for 5 laps of the 30.7-mile course 


                                         1921 CR-1 Pulitzer.jpg (121274 bytes)
                                                                          Curtiss CR-1

            The winner, by almost two minutes, was Bert Acosta, flying the first of wha would become an historic line of Curtiss military racers, the CR-1.  He averaged 176.75 mph.  Clarence Coombs was second at 170.34 mph in the private Cox Cactus Kitten.   In third was Army Capt. John Macready at 160.72 mph in a Thomas Morse MB-6. 

Part 3 – 1922  

 The Seventh Aerial Derby

            This year, it was held on August 10-12 over a new course: two laps of a 100-mile loop around London, starting at Waddon Aerodrome, Croydon, south of the city.  The winner of the Speed Division, in poor weather, was Jimmy James in the Gloster Mars 1 at 177.85 mph. Second was Flt. Lt. De Haga Haig in the Bristol Bullet at 144.97 mph.  The winner of the Handicap Division was Larry Carter in a Bristol M.1D.  

  The Sixth Schneider Cup Race

            The site was Naples, Italy, and the course 13 laps, each of 17.7 miles; it was held on August 10-12.  Only the British entry was to challenge the Italians, as an Italian railroad strike delayed the French entries until it was too late. 

            The winner was Henry Biard, flying the newly-built Supermarine Sea Lion II, in which he completed the course in 1:34:51.6 (145.721 mph), barely a minute ahead of Allesandro Passaleva, in a Savoia S.51 at 142.949 mph, finishing with a split propeller.  

The First King’s Cup Race   

            The start of what would become the world’s longest-running major air race series was on September 8 from Croydon Aerodrome, south of London. It was run on a purely handicapped basis. The 810-mile race included an overnight stop in Glasgow, Scotland, and a return the next day.   The winner, in 6:32:50, was Frank Barnard, chief pilot of the pioneering Instone Air Line, in one of the line’s passenger-carrying deH.4’s.  In second was Frederick Raynham, in a little Martinsyde F.6.  While the 21 competitors were working their way north and then back, an impromptu handicap race was held at Croydon “to pass the time”.  

The Coupe Deutsch Race

             It was held September 30 at Etampes, France, for three laps around the 100-km. course.  Entries included World War I ace Charles Nungesser, who withdrew.  Four pilots started, but only one finished: Fernand Lasne, in a Nieuport-Delage 29V, who completed the course in 1:02:11.8 for a speed of 179.83 mph, a record for the event.  The only foreign pilot to start was Jimmy James, who could not complete his first lap because his maps blew out of the cockpit.  

The Curtiss Marine Trophy Race

             This event was limited to U.S. Navy pilots flying seaplanes, and was held October 8, on the Detroit (Michigan) River, for 8 laps of a 20-mile course.  Eight started, but only two finished.  First was Lt. A.W. Gorton in a Naval Aircraft Factory TR-1, at 112.65 mph.  Second was Lt. H.A. Elliott in a Vought VE-7H at 108.71 mph.  1st Lt Sandy Snderson might have won in his Curtiss 18-T-1, but ran out of fuel just short of the finish line.  

  The Third Pulitzer Trophy Race

             The most impressive line-up in the history of American military air racing greeted the crowd at Selfridge Field, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, on October 14.   Among the 15 starters were a dozen military racers: one Verville R-1, three Verville-Sperry R-3’s, two Loening R-4’s, two Thomas-Morse R-5’s, two Curtiss R-6’s and two Curtiss CR-2’s. 

            The race, for five laps of a 50-km./31-mile course, was won by 1st Lt. Russell Maughan, in an R-6, who averaged 205.856 mph and broke every closed-course record up to 200 km.  In second was 1st Lt. Lester Maitland, in an identical airplane, at 198.850 mph, while in third was Lt. Harold Brow in a CR-2 at 193.695 mph, and in fourth was Lt. Jg Al Williams, in a CR-2 at 187.996 mph.  This race established Curtiss’ reputation as a designer/builder of advanced airplanes. 

 Part 4 – 1923  

The Second King’s Cup Race 

            The start of the July 14 handicap race was shifted to Hendon Aerodrome, north of London, which cut the distance to 794 miles over the same course as 1922.   Seventeen pilots, all flying biplanes, started.  The winner was Frank Courtney, a highly successful free-lance test pilot, who averaged 149 mph for 5:25:27 in an Armstrong Whitworth Siskin II pursuit.  In second was A.J. Cobham in World War I deHavilland deH.9, followed by future Schneider Race pilot Hubert Broad in a similar airplane.            

The Eighth Aerial Derby

              The final Derby was held August 6 at Croydon, site of London’s first commercial airport, and was for 2 laps of a 100-mile course.  Nine of the 12 starters finished, with the winner being Larry Carter in the Gloster I, which had been the Mars I; his speed was 192.359 mph.  In second was Walter H. Longton in the Sopwith Rainbow which had wheels instead of the floats it had carried in the 1919 Schneider Race.  They were the only two pilots to fly civilian airplanes.

           The Royal Aero Club ended the series due to a lack of prize money and new, competitive airplanes. 

The Sixth Schneider Cup Race

            Flown out of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, on September 27-28, it was for 5 laps of the 43-mile course.   For the first time, a team was fully backed by a national government: the two Curtiss CR-3’s comprised the U.S. Navy entry.  A very successful effort, for they placed 1st (David Rittenhouse, at a race record 177.279 mph) and 2nd  (Rutledge Irvine, 173.347 mph).  The only pilot among the other four starters who finished was Henry Biard, in the Supermarine Sea Lion III, who averaged 157.065 mph. 

The Fourth Pulitzer Trophy Race

             This one was run out of Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, on October 6.  It was for 4 laps of a 50-km./31.1-mile course.  All seven starting pilots flew military racers, and all six who finished broke the old Pulitzer Race record.  The winner was Al Williams, at 243.673 mph in a Curtiss R2C-1, followed by Harold Brow in another R2C-2 at 241.779 mph.  The race for third place was the most exciting, Sandy Sanderson edging Steven Calloway—both in Wright F2W-1’s—by ½ second: 230.067 mph to 230.002 mph. 

Part 5 – 1924 

  Curtiss Marine Trophy Race

            It was held March 8 at Miami, Florida, for 124 miles.  The winner was Lt. V.F. Grant in a Vought VE-7H at 116.17 mph.  

Coupe Beaumont

                 An “Unlimited” race on June 23 for 6 laps of a 50 km./31-mile course, starting at Istres, France.  Of three pilots prepared to start, only two flew and one finished.  The winner, at 193.40 mph, was Sadi Lecointe in a Nieuport-Delage 42.   

  The Third King's Cup Race

            This race on August 12 offered two ways to start: from Martlesham Heath for landplanes, and from Felixstowe for seaplanes.  The 950 miles was flown on one day, with everyone finishing at Lee-on-Solent.  Among the 10 starters were the winners of the first two races.  This time, 1st place was won by Alan Cobham in his deHavilland deH.50 in 8:57:12.  Second was Capt. Macmillan in a Fairey IIID seaplane, and third was Alan Butler in a deH.37.  

The National Air Races

              There is considerable difference of opinion about the beginnings of the American National Air Races, with some insisting the 1924 races at Dayton were the first, while others saying the true beginning was the 1929 races at Cleveland, where civilians first played a major role.   The reader should make up his or her own mind.      

   The Fifth Pulitzer Trophy Race

            The air races at Wilbur Wright Field, outside Dayton, Ohio, were highlighted by the Pulitzer.   Run for 4 laps of a 50-km./31-mile course on October 4, it drew a much reduced field from the previous year.  Three of the four starters flew military racers: two Curtiss R-6/s and one Verville-Sperry R-3, along with an Army Curtiss PW-8A.  The winner, in the R-3, was Harry Mills, covering the course in 34:25.93 to average 216.55 mph.  Wendell Brookley was second in an R-6, at 214.41 mph, only 21 seconds behind. 

            Sportsmanship prevailed, as the Schneider Cup Race, scheduled for October 27 at Bay Shore Park, Baltimore, Maryland, was postponed a year because all but the American entries were wrecked or withdrawn.  Had it been held, the USA would have easily won its third straight race, and retired the trophy. 

Part 7 – 1925  

  The Fourth King's Cup Race

            This was the longest race yet, 1,608 miles in two 804-mile heats to be run on consecutive days—July 2 and 3—from Croydon Aerodrome.  Only three of the 15 entrants finished the second day’s leg due to wide-spread fog.  First in the handicap event was 1922 winner Frank Barnard, flying an Armstrong Whitworth Siskin V at 141.7 mph.  In second was H.W.G. Jones in a Siskin VI at  142 mph, and third was H. Hemming in a deHavilland deH.37 at 120 mph.   

The Sixth Pulitzer Trophy Race

            As part of what later became known as the National Air Races (October 8-13 at Mitchell Field, Long Island, New York), the sixth and last Pulitzer Race was conducted on October 12.  It was flown for 4 laps of a 50-km./31-mile course.  The winner, at a Pulitzer record 248.975 mph, was Cyrus Bettis in a Curtiss R3C-1.  Not far behind him was Al Williams, in an identical racer, at 241.695 mph.  

The Coupe Beaumont Race 

            Only two pilots entered this race, which was run October 18 at Istres, France, for 6 laps of a 50-km./31-mile course.  The winner and only finisher was Sadi Lecointe in a Nieuport-Delage 42, at 194.156 mph.  The only other starter was G. Ferigoule in a Salmson-Bechereau monoplane, who experienced radiator problems. Due to the poor turn-out, the series was ended. 

 The Eighth Schneider Cup Race 

            This race was held October 26 at Bay Shore Park, Baltimore, Maryland, and originally attracted four entries from the USA, four from Great Britain, four from Italy and one (a Curtiss D-12-powered Dornier) from Germany.  It was for 7 laps around the 5-km./31-mile course. 

                                                  1925 Doolittle.jpg (50679 bytes)
                                                            Jimmy Doolittle and the R3C-2

            Out of just five starters, three finished, with the winner being Jimmy Doolittle in the Curtiss R3C-2, in which he averaged a race record 232.573 mph, thanks to the most advanced streamlining yet seen.  Hubert Broad was second in a Gloster III-A at 199.170 mph.  Third was Giovanni de Briganti in a Macchi M.33 at 168.444 mph.   It was the last time the Schneider was contested by seaplanes from as many as three countries.   

Part 8 – 1926 

    The Curtiss Marine Trophy Race

            On May 14, the final race in this series was run on the Potomac River at Haines Point, Washington, DC.  It was for 73 ½ miles.  Of nine entries, the winner was Thomas P. Jeter in a Curtiss F6C-3, at 130.94 mph. 

The Fifth King’s Cup Race 

            The race consisted of four different laps, all starting and finishing at Hendon, flown on two successive days, for a total distance of 1,464 miles.  On the first day, 14 started, seven finished and started the second day, and five completed the race.  The winner of the handicap event was Hubert Broad in his deHavilland 60 Gypsy Moth at 90.4 mph, second was E.R.C. Scholefield in a Vickers Vixen II at 142 mph, and third was H.W.G. Jones in a Martinsyde A.D.C. 1 at 152 mph.  

The National Air Races 

            There was no headline event for this year’s event, held September 4-13 at Model Farms Field, outside Phildelphia, Pennsylvania.  The military again dominated, and this time the races would be restricted to standard production types.  The Mitchell Trophy Race was for Curtiss P-1 Hawk pursuits, and was won by Lt. L.G. Eliot at 160 mph.  The Kansas City Rotary Club Trophy Race was won by Navy Lt. George Cuddihy in a new Boeing FB-3 pursuit at 181 mph.  

The Ninth Schneider Cup Race 

            The race was held November 12-13 at Hampton Roads, Virginia, for 7 laps of a 50-km./31-mile course.  Italy and the USA had three-man teams equipped with, respectively, Macchi and Cutiss floatplanes.  The easy winner was Mario de Bernardi in a new Macchi M.39 powered by a 700 hp Fiat V-12, who averaged a race record 246.496 mph.  In second was Christian Schilt in a Custiss R3C-2 with a 500 hp Curtiss V-12, who averaged 231.364 mph.  In third was Adriano Bacula in an M.39, at 218.006 mph.  The Italians were inspired by American streamlining, and had a lot more horsepower.  

Part 9 – 1927  

    The Sixth King's Cup Race

            The race was first planned for Bournemouth, then shifted to Nottingham because of local resistance.  One-third of the entries pulled out in protest to a new handicapping system.  The final group flew three separate courses, for a total of 540 miles on July 30. 

It was the first King’s Cup Race in which women were entered. The winner was W.L. Hope in a deH. Gypsy Moth at 92.8 mph, second was W.J. McDonough in a Westland Widgeon III at 102.8 mph, and third was E.R.C. Scholefield in a Vickers Vixen III at 141.6 mph.               

  The Dole Race 

                On August 16, a cross-country race was held between Oakland, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii, approximately 2,400 miles.  It was one of the most poorly thought out schemes in air racing history.  Several airplanes crashed during tests or on their way to Oakland.  Three others were lost at sea during the race.  Only two made it to the finish line. Eight pilots, crew members and passengers were lost.  

            The winner was Art Goebel in the Travelair 5000 “Woolaroc”, completing the trip in 26:19:33.  In second was Martin Jensen in the Breese monoplane “Aloha”, in 28:16.   

The National Air Races 

            Air racing was held in Spokane, Washington, from September 19 to 25, with most events being for military pilots and airplanes.  In the Spokane Spokesman-Review Trophy Race—10 laps around a 12-mile course—E.C. Batten in a Curtiss XP-6A Hawk beat A.J. Lion in an XP-6 by 201.239 mph to 189.608 mph.   The “pre-Bendix” New York-to-Spokane Air Derby was won in a Laird Commercial by future-great Charles “Speed” Holman.   

The 10th Schneider Cup Race 

            The Schneider was run off the Lido Beach, Venice, Italy, on September 26, following a rain delay.  The course was 7 laps, each of 50 km./31 mi.  The sole American entry—Al Williams, in his Packard-powered Kirkham-Williams—was cancelled due to insufficient testing.  The first of the sleek Supermarines, designed by future Spitfire designer Reginald Mitchell, were in the spot light. 

            And in the winner’s cirCle, as Sidney Webster won at a record 281.656 mph, with Oswald Worsley second at 272.91 mph.  The three Macchi M.52’s dropped out with fuel or engine problems, while the Gloster IVB, flown by S.M. Kinkead, got as far as lap 6 before spinner unbalance forced it out. 

            Officials then decided that future races would be held every two years, due to the increasing technical and financial demands being placed on sponsors.  

Part 10 – 1928  

  The Seventh King's Cup Race

            The race began at Hendon on July 21, with the first day’s flying ending at Glasgow, Scotland; on the second day, the pilots flew back south to Brooklands, for a total of 1,097 miles.  Of 36 starters, 23 completed the race, with the winner being W.L. Hope in a Gypsy Moth for the second straight year.  Second went to Cyril Uwins in a Bristol 101, and third to Miss Winifred Spooner in another Gypsy Moth.  

The National Air Races

            Mines Field (later Los Angeles International Airport), September 8-16, was the scene of the major American meet of the year.  The future shape of the National Air Races was beginning to appear.   

Another step in the direction of the Bendix Transcontinental Derby was the Non-Stop New York to Los Angeles Derby.  While none of the 11 starters finished, Dole Race winner Art Goebel got as far as Prescott, Arizona, in his Lockheed Vega.  The Transcontinental Race was divided into classes, and stops were permitted.  A total of 40 pilots competed, with the top prize of $7,000 going to John Livingston, another future star.   

In the “pre-Thompson Trophy Race” Civilian Unlimited Free-for-All, Robert Cantwell won in a Vega, finishing barely five seconds ahead of Art Goebel.  Roscoe Turner placed 8th and last.  

The popular success of the National Air Races had been established.  What was needed was a permanent home, where it could grow and develop.        

Concise History of Air Racing,

Chapter 3  

  Part One-1929

  The Golden Age of Air Racing Begins

            As the USA was pummeled by the Great Depression, leaving thousands of businesses wrecked and millions out of work, air racing paradoxically entered its most glorious and glamorous era.   Hundreds of thousands filled airport grandstands, seeking momentary relief from their increasingly drab lives.  Air racers responded with a flood of  highly individual, custom-built airplanes   

The All-American Air Races 

            The beginning of this long series of multi-class air meets was in Miami, Florida, over the weekend of January 7-8.  Information is hard to find, and so will be added as it becomes available.  

The Ninth King’s Cup Race           

            Th July 5-6 race started at Heston and extended for 590 miles north to Blackpool.  Forty one pilots started.  On the second day, the 26 remaining in the race continued north into Scotland and returned south to Heston, for 580 miles.  The winner was Richard Atcherley in a Gloster Grebe Mk.II at 150 mph.  Second was L. G. Richardson in a deH.60 Gypsy Moth at 100.2 mph, while in third was two-time winner W.L. Hope in another Gypsy Moth.  

The Cleveland National Air Races 

            Under the direction of brothers Cliff and Phil Henderson, America’s National Air Races found a home at Cleveland Municipal Airport.  With strong backing from many elements of the community, including major manufacturers, stability was created and led to steady growth in the popularity and significance of what quickly became one of America’s leading spectator events. 

            The 1929 races, held from August 24 through September 2, were crowded with cross-country races, pylon races, novelty races, aerobatic acts, military demonstrations, band concerts and fireworks displays.  In a few days, naïve spectators became authorities on the sport of airplane racing. 

            The most heavily publicized event was the Women’s Transcontinental Race from Los Angeles, unfortunately plagued by controversy, starting with the threat of a boycott by some of the nation’s leading female pilots.  The two divisions of the long, multi-stop grind were won by Louise Thaden in a TravelAir in 20:02:02, and Phoebe Omlie in a Monocoupe in 25:10:36.5. 

            Another step en route to the classic Bendix Trophy Race was taken with the 2,042-mile Non-Stop Los Angeles to Cleveland Derby.  The winner, in 13:15:07 and 154.09 mph, was Henry Brown in a Lockheed Air Express.   Not far behind was Lee Schoenhair in a Lockheed Vega in 13:51:10 for 147.407 mph.  Roscoe Turner arrived third in a Vega, but after the deadline for arrivals.   

            What turned out to be the most important race on the schedule was listed as merely “Event #26 – Unlimited Free-for-All”.  It was open to both military and civilian airplanes of any design or power.  Leading all the way (5 laps of the 10-mile course) at 194.90 mph was young Doug Davis, in a custom-built racer, the TravelAir “Mystery”, which out-ran the best the Army and Navy could field, to win $750 and the Thompson Cup.  This would soon be replaced by the Thompson Trophy, one of aviation’s classic awards. 

            Hundreds of thousands packed the stands, while much of the country became aware of the excitement on Cleveland’s west side, thanks to the skills and imagination of the Hendersons.  For the next 20 years, Cleveland would be the center of air racing.  

  The 11th Schneider Cup Race

            The race was scheduled for Calshot, Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, for September 6-7.  Fourteen entries included one from the USA, one from Germany, and two from France, all of which were withdrawn, leaving a starting line-up of three British Supermarines and three Italian Macchis.   The up-dated Supermarine S.6 had a 1,900 hp Rolls Royce “R” engine, while the Macchi M.67 had a 1,400 hp Isotta-Fraschini. 

            Henry Waghorn, in one of the S.6’s, blasted seven times around the 50-km./31-mi. course in 39:42.8 for a closed-course record of 328.63 mph.  Tomaso dal Molin, in the 900 hp Macchi M.52R, was second at 284.11 mph, while both M.67’s went out with mechanical troubles.  This was the second straight solid win for the British.  

Part 2 – 1930  

  The Second All-American Air Races

            While the military predominated in demonstrations during the January 13-15 meet at Miami, the racing was mainly for civilian pilots in civilian airplanes.   Pylon events were limited by piston displacement, with almost all entrants flying commercially built machines.  The highest winning speeds in any of the 15-mile races were Dale Jackson’s 150.5 mph and 146.3 mph in the 800 cu. in. events, both in a 300 hp Cessna 300SP.   

  The Ninth King's Cup Race

            This long handicap race was for 753 miles, starting and finishing at Hanworth on July 5.   A record 88 pilots started and 61 finished, with the winner being Miss Winifred Brown, flying an Avro Avian III at 102.75 mph.   Next came Alan Butler in a Cleaned-up Gypsy Moth at 130 mph, while in third was Henry Waghorn in a Blackburn Bluebird IV at 100 mph.  

The Chicago National Air Races 

            The August 24-September 1 event was moved to Chicago’s Curtiss-Reynolds Airport because of construction work at Cleveland.   Most of the races were for classes of airplanes limited by their engine displacement: 110 cu. in., 275 cu. in., 350 cu. in., 450 cu. in., 650 cu. in., 800 cu. in., 1,000 cu. in. 

            The main events included the no-holds-barred Non-Stop Los Angeles to Chicago Derby, the 1,760-mile immediate forerunner of the Bendix Trophy Race.  It was won by Wiley Post, in a Lockheed Vega, at 192.326 mph.   Second was Art Goebel in a Vega at 182.315 mph, and in third was Lee Shoenhair in yet another Vega, at 177.793 mph. 

            The other feature was the first Thompson Trophy Race, for any kind of airplane with any size engine, for 20 laps of a 5-mile course.  The winner was Charles “Speed” Holman in a pure racer, the Laird “Solution”, at 201.91 mph.  Less than 20 seconds behind him was Jimmy Haizlip in a new TravelAir Mystery at 199.80 mph, followed by Benny Howard in his little “Pete” at 162.80 mph.  Among the non-finishers was Errett Williams in the first of the Wedell Williams Racers.  One pilot died: Navy Capt. Arthur Page, in the Curtiss XF6C-6, a sleek parasol monoplane built from the F6C-3; probably from inhaling carbon monoxide.  

Part 3 – 1931

 The All-American Air Races 

            On January 8-10, a major meet was held at Miami Municipal Airport, near what became the Opa-Locka Naval Air Station. It was promoted as an excuse for pilots living well to the north to have a vacation in the Florida sun.  

The only race with no displacement limit was the Cincinnati Trophy Race, won by Art Davis in a Waco Taperwing at 149.37 mph.  Close behind, in second, was Johnny Livingston at 147.906 mph.  At the other end of the scale, three Goodyear blimps had a race in which first place went to the slowest!  In a novelty race for amphibians, each pilot had to land in Biscayne Bay and catch a fish before crossing the finish line. 

 The 10th King’s Cup Race 

            New rules were in place for this race, held July 25 at Heston, England.  It was open to amateur pilots (and effectively to civil airplanes), and their airplanes had to be capable of at least 100 mph.  The 983-mile cross-country handicap saw 40 starters and 21 finishers.   The winner was E.C.T. Edwards in a Bluebird IV at 117.8 mph, second was F.G. Gibbons in a Simmonds Spartan at 109.1 mph, and third was Geoffrey Rodd in a deHavilland Puss Moth at 127.5 mph.  

The National Air Races 

            They were back in Cleveland, August 30-September 7, with a more permanent facility on a part of the airport now occupied by NASA.  A half mile of grandstands seated 50,000, and there was now a race administration building.  The future of air racing looked bright. 

            After years of development, it was time to run the first Bendix Transcontinental Derby from Los Angeles.  Of eight pilots entered, six flew various Lockheed monoplanes, one flew the TravelAir Mystery in which Doug Davis won the 1929 Thompson Cup.  And 1925 Schneider Cup winner Jimmy Doolittle flew the hot little Laird “Super Solution” biplane, winning by more than an hour, and averaging 223.04 mph, to just 199.82 mph by Harold Johnson in a Lockheed Orion. 

            In the Thompson Trophy Race, a pair of GeeBees were in the spotlight. The Granville Brothers (hence GB) ran a small shop and saw racing as a way to become better known.  In their stubby, single-seat Model Z was Lowell Bayles, who won the 10-lap, 100-mile race by almost a minute, averaging a record 236.24 mph, to 227.99 mph for Jimmy Wedell in a new Wedell Williams Racer. 

            The distinctive shape and yellow-and-black color scheme of the “Z” captured the imaginations of millions, and lifted air racing to the next rung of popularity.  

  The 12th Schneider Cup Race

            The long run of the Schneider ended at Lee-on-Solent, in southern England, on September 13.   The record dash by John Boothman in the new Supermarine S.6b with its 2,300 hp Rolls Royce “R”, predecessor of the later Griffon, was an anti-climax.  No other entries appeared to challenge the British, and they took possession of the Cup with a third straight win.  Boothman’s 340.08 mph for 7 laps and 218 miles was a world mark for closed courses.  Three weeks later, G. H. Stainforth became the first human to exceed 400 mph, when he flew an S.6b over a 3-km. course at 406.99 mph, an Absolute World Record. 

            When the Schneider ended, there were a lot of highly impressive racing seaplanes being developed with great power and advanced streamlining.  In France, there were the Nieuport-Delage 450, the Dewoitine D.412 and the Bernard HV-220.  In Italy, Mario Castoldi had designed the MC.72 with a pair of Fiat V-12 engine in tandem.  Five were built by Macchi, at least two of which were lost in fatal crashes before the final Schneider Race.  Eventually, one of them would set the 3-km. record for piston-engined seaplanes at 440.681 mph, which still stands. 

 Part 4 – 1932 

    The All-American Air Races

            No information yet available on the Miami races of January 7-9.  

  The 11th King's Cup Races

            The race was on two days for a total of 1,223 miles, with the start and finish at Brooklands, on the south-west side of London.  The first three-time winner was W.L. Hope in a Fox moth at 124.25 mph.  Second place went to E.H. Fielden in a racey little Comper Swift at 156 mph, and in third, W.L. Runciman in a Puss Moth at 130 mph.  Harry Brown turned in the fastest time—176 mph—in an Avro Mailplane.  

The International Aviation Meeting 

            On July 23-26, near Zurich, Switzerland, an air meet was conducted, consisting of races for a variety of civilian, military and commercial aircraft, along with an aerobatics competition.  The fastest of the races appears to have been the International Speed Contest, won at 213 mph by Cassinelli, of Italy, in a Fiat CR.30.  His teammate Pietro Scapinelli, was second in a CR.30 at 209 mph, and Nyffenegger, of Switzerland was third in a Lockheed Orion, at 205 mph.  

The National Air Races 

            The unquestioned star of Cleveland’s August 27-September 5 meet was the barrel-shaped Gee R-1, with its brilliant red-and-white paint job, even though Wedell Williams Racers racked up a much better record.  The R-series of GeeBees quickly became the symbol of air racing, a title they still hold. 

            The L.A.-to-Cleveland Bendix Race saw a Wedell Williams sweep of the first three places.  Jimmy Haizlip was first at 245.28 mph, Jimmy Wedell was second at 232.37 mph, and Roxcoe Turner was third at 225.99 mph.   Lee Gehlbach was fourth in the lower-powered GeeBee R-2. 

            In the Thompson, Jimmy Doolittle flew wide and cautiously in the GeeBee R-1, yet still managed to win by a full minute and set a record of 252.69 mph.  Next came the same three Wedell Williams: Jimmy Wedell at 242.50 mph, Roscoe Turner at 233.04 mph, and Haizlip at 231.30 mph.  It was the most complete domination by one make in pre-war National Air Racing. 

 Part 5 – 1933 

  The All-American Air Races

            The January 5-7 races at Miami, Florida…information still be sought.   

The Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe 

            The third series carrying this name and sponsorship began May 29 at Etampes, France.  The race consisted of 10 laps of a 100-km./62-mile course, followed by a rest period, and then another 10 laps, for a total of 2,000 km./1,243 mi.   It was billed as an all-out international race for airplanes with engines having no more than 6 litres (375 cu. in.) piston displacement.  Only one non-French pilot competed in the series.  Instead, it became a showcase for the slim little racers carrying the Caudron name. 

            In 1933, 12 pilots entered, five started and three finished.  The winner was Georges Detre, flying a radial-engined Potez 53, and averaging 200.59 mph.  Second-place went to Raymond Delmotte in a Caudron 362, at 180.9 mph.  Third was Nick Comper, of England, in a low-powered Comper Swift at 148.87 mph.  

The National Air Races 

            Two fully competitive meets were held the same Fourth of July weekend: the National Air Races in Los Angeles, and the American Air Races in Chicago as part of the World’s Fair.   Controversy over sanctioning by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) resulted in considerable bad feelings, and brief suspensions for those who raced a Chicago. 

            The official National Air Races were held at the Los Angeles Municipal Airport (formerly Mines Field) on July 1-4.  Both the prestige races were conducted there, rather than at Chicago.  The Bendix Race saw another Wedell Williams sweep, as two of them were the only finishers out of seven starters.  Roscoe Turner won at 214.78 mph, Jimmy Wedell was second at 206.32 mph.  The GeeBee R-1 was destroyed in a fatal accident on take-off at Indianapolis, killing Russell Boardman.  Russell Thaw withdrew the R-2 after Boardman’s accident. 

            In the Thompson Trophy Race, Roscoe Turner appeared to have won at 241 mph, but was belatedly disqualified for failing to deal properly with a pylon cut.  This gave the win to Jimmy Wedell at 237.95 mph, and second place to Lee Gehlbach at 224.95 mph.  All three flew Wedell Williams Racers.  In third was Roy Minor in Benny Howard’s “Mike” at 199.870 mph. 

            In the Shell Speed Dash (a straight 3-km. run), Turner was first at 280.274 mph, Wedell was second at 278.920 mph and Gehlbach was third at 251.930 mph.  

The American Air Races 

            The more prestigious races at Los Angeles drew the big names and the airplanes with big engines.  The meet at Chicago’s Municipal Airport featured events for limited-displacement classes up to 500 cu. in.  For one of the few times in the 1930’s, women were allowed to race against men around the pylons. 

            The Baby Ruth Trophy Race was won by Johnny Livingston in the Cessna CR-3 at 201.42 mph, with Art Davis second in the CR-2 at 200.76 mph and Harold Neumann third in the Howard “Ike” at 177.10 mph.  In the Aero Digest Trophy Race, it was Livingston at 204.54 mph, Davis at 202.88 mph and Neumann at 170.81 mph.   

  The 12th King's Cup Race

            A new venue—Hatford, near the deHavilland factory, north of London—and a new system were features of this race, held July 8.  There were three qualifying races of lengths from 195 to 224 mph, with the top eight going on to the 206-mile finals.  The ultimate winner was Geoffrey deHavilland in the prototype Leopard Moth at 140 mph.  In second place was E.C.T. Edwards in a Comper Swift at 127 mph, and thid was A.J. Styran in another Leopard Moth at 139 mph.  

The International Air Races 

            Competition for spectators and publicity from the Century of Progress—Chicago’s Worlds Fair—was too much for this race, organized by the Henderson brothers.  It was held on Labor Day weekend, September 1-4, , at Curtis-Reynolds Airport. 

            There were two main races, one being the Women’s International Free-for-All, which was won by Mary Haizlip in a Wedell Williams Racer at 191.11 mph.  Second was Florence Klingensmith in a GeeBee Y at 189.04 mph, while in third was Martie Bowman in a GeeBee Sportster at 168.86 mph. 

            In the Frank Phillips Trophy Race, Klingensmith’s Y GeeBee lost several square feet of wing fabric, leading to her fatal crash.  The winner was Jimmy Wedell at 245.95 mph, second was Lee Gehlbach in another Wedell Williams Racer, at 217.48 mph, while third went to Roy Minor in Howard’s “Ike” at 215.15 mph. 

            Four major, multi-class races in one year turned out to be too much.   Henceforth, there would be just two, Miami and Cleveland. 

Concise History of Air Racing –

Chapter 4 --           A World War in the Offing  

  Part 1-1934

All-American Air Races 

            Information on this January 11-13 racing meet at Miami will be added as it becomes available 

Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe           

            The second race in this third series—May 27 at Etampes, France—saw the emergence of the Caudrons as unbeatable racers.  With Renault straight-six engines and two-position Ratier propellers, they were not to be seriously challenged.  This year saw Maurice Arnoux win in the fixed-landing gear C.450 at 241.70 mph, followed by a fixed-landing gear C.366 flown by Louis Masotte at 224.15 mph, and Albert Monville in a C-460 at 211.92 mph.  Yet another C.460 completed the first stage at 240.48 mph.  The updated Potez 53’s were out-classed.

  The 13th King’s Cup Race

              The race operated out of Hatfield, and was flown on a 798-mile course on July 13-14.  The first round consisted of six heats with 41 starters.   From these, the top 24 raced in four heats.   The top 14 then raced in two semi-final heats, with the best 10 flying for the King’s Cup.  The winner, in a Monospar ST-1 was H.M. Schofield at 134.16 mph.  In second was Tommy Rose in a Miles Hawk Major at 147.78 mph.   And in third place was Laurance Lipton at 124.18 mph in a Gypsy Moth.  Of greatest long-term significance was the entry of the prototype Percival Mew Gull by Edgar Percival. 

The National Air Races 

            Held August 31 to September 4, the races saw the final display of Wedell Williams domination, and the debut of the Greve Trophy Race for airplanes having no more than 550 cu. in. 

            The Bendix Trophy Race from Los Angeles had the shortest entry list ever: two Wedell Williams and the GeeBee R-6 “Q.E.D.”  1929 Thompson Cup winner Doug Davis won in a Wedell at 216.237, with   J.A. Worthen second in a Wedell at 203.213 mph.  Lee Gehlbach arrived too late in the stretched GeeBee. 

            The Greve Trophy Race consisted of three 30-mile heat races, with the winner determined by points.  In first, with a fastest heat of 206.241 mph, was Lee Miles in the Miles & Atwood Special.  Tied for second were Roger Don Rae (Keith Rider “San Francisco”) at 211.03 mph and At Chester (“Jeep”) at 203.382 mph. 

            In the finale Thompson Trophy Race, for 10 laps of a 10-mile course, Roscoe Turner won at 248.13 mph in Wedell Williams #57.  Second place went to Roy Minor in the Brown “Miss Los Angeles” at 214.93 mph, and third went to James Worthen in #92 Wedell at 208.38 mph.  Doug Davis died in a crash.  

The MacRobertson Race 

            It has been called “The World’s Greatest Air Race”.  It started on October 20 at Mildenhall, England, finished October 23 at Melbourne, Australia, and covered 11,300 miles.  There were 59 entries from 12 countries, of which 19 started and 9 finished.   The winners of both the Speed and Handicap Divisions were Scott and Campbell-Black in a bright red deHavilland 88 Comet, one of three designed and built for the race.  Second in both Divisions were Parmentier and Moll in a Douglas DC-2 of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  Third in the Speed Division were Roscoe Turner and Clyde Pangborn in a Boeing 247 airliner.  

Part 2 – 1935  

The All-American Air Races 

                The January 11-13 meet was held near Miami, Florida.  Details will be provided as available. 

 Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe 

            The 2,000-km race around a 100-km. course south of Paris was held May 19.  Caudron C.460’s took the first two places, with Raymond Delmotte averaging a record 275.89 mph, and Yves Lacombe 263.60 mph.  The only other finisher—a Caudron C.450 flown on the first lap by Albert Monville, and the second by Maurice Arnoux, whose C.460 averaged 276 mph for the first lap—was clocked at 216.67 mph.  All five starters flew Caudrons. 

The National Air Races 

            This has been called the “Benny Howard National Air Races”, as his airplanes won all three major events.The Bendix went to Ben in his high-wing  “Mr. Mulligan”, edging Roscoe Turner in #57 Wedell Williams by 24 seconds, as they averaged 238.70 mph to 238.52 mph.  In third was Russell Thaw in a Northrop Gamma at 201.93 mph.  

            All three heats of the Greve Trophy Race were won by Harold Neumann in Howard’s “Mike”, with a best speed of 212.716 mph.  Second on points was Roger Don Rae in the Keith Rider R-1, with a best of 210.126 mph.  Third was Art Chester in his “Jeep” with a best of 199.078 mph. 

            The classic Thompson Trophy Race saw a nip-and-tuck battle between Neumann in “Mr. Mulligan” and Steve Wittman in his Curtiss D-12-powered “Bonzo”.  Neumann won by 15 seconds after 150 miles of racing.  He averaged 220.19 mph, Wittman was at 218.69 mph, and third-place Roger Don Rae flew the Keith Rider R-1 at 213.94 mph.  

The 14th King's Cup Race

            Hatfield was the site of this September 6-7 race, which started out with a 1,303-mile qualifying race to Scotland, Ireland and back.  The best then flew six laps of a short course, with the winner being Tommy Rose in a Miles Falcon Six at 176.28 mph, second was H.R.A. Edwards in a Miles Hawk Major at 158 mph, and third was Charles Gardner in a Percival Gull Six at 170.08 mph.  Three pilots flew the new, race-modified Miles Hawk Speed Six.  

All-American Air Races 

            The re-named All-American Air Maneuvers were held at Miami on December 12-14.  When information becomes available, it will be added. 

Part 3 – 1936 

The 15th King's Cup Race

            The July 10-11 race from Hatfield consisted of an eliminating round of two laps of a 612-mile course, followed by the final round’s six laps of a 26-mile “short” course.  The winner, at 164.47 mph, was Charles Gardner in a Percival Vega Gull.  Second was Tommy Rose in a Hawk Speed six at 185 mph, and third was J.B. Wilson in a B.A. Double Eagle light twin at 181 mph.  

The National Air Races 

            Construction at Cleveland Airport again necessitated a move to Los Angeles for the September 4-7 races.   Michel Detroyat and his dark blue Caudron C.460 dominated the major closed-course races, demonstrating the value of advanced streamlining and of extensive testing and proving. 

            The Bendix Trophy Race ran for 2,466 miles from New York and was the slowest ever.  When the favored custom-built airplanes dropped by the wayside, women pilots persevered.  Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes won in a Beech 17 Staggerwing at 165.35 mph, followed by Laura Ingalls in a Lockheed Orion at 157.47 mph.  William Gullick was third in a big Vultee V-1A at 156.49 mph. 

            The Greve Trophy Race was a more conventional single heat for 20 laps of a 5-mile course.  Michel Detroyat won easily at a record 247.300 mph, more than two minutes ahead of Harold Neumann in the Folkerts “Toots” at 225.858 mph.  Art Chester was third in his “Jeep” at 224.682 mph. 

            The Thompson saw another big win for the Frenchman, as he again won by more than two minutes over the 150 miles.  He averaged a Thompson record 264.26 mph to 248.04 mph for Earl Ortman in the Marcoux-Bromberg, and 236.56 mph for Roger Don Rae in the Keith Rider R-4. 

            Considerable unhappiness was displayed by the American pilots, which they eventually turned into new, faster airplanes. 

Coupe Deutsch de la Muerthe 

            Problems with temperamental Renault engines spoiled the debut of two new Caudron racers.   The C.560 was a C.460 with a 450 hp V-12, while the C.561 also had a flush canopy.  The only new machines to start the race were a pair of C.461’s, C.460’s with flush canopies.  The winner was the 1934/1936 winning C.450, fixed landing gear and all.  Yves Lacombe averaged a disappointing 242.01 mph.  In second was Maurice Arnoux in a C.461 at 229.66 mph.  Raymond Delmotte, in the other C.461, failed to finish the first stage, but turned in the fastest lap at 268.55 mph. 

            Attempts were made to conduct races in 1937, 1938 and 1939, but insufficient airplanes were ready in time, and soon the prospects of war began to have their impact on France.  Some fascinating designs had been under construction, including the Bugatti 100 with its buried engine driving contra-rotating propellers, and two Payen canard-deltawings.  

Schlesinger Race 

            This race was for the 6,150 miles from Portsmouth, England, to Johannesburg, South Africa, and was limited to British Commonwealth airplanes and crews.  It started September 29 and finished October 1.  The only crew, out of nine starters, to finish was MacRobertson Race winner Charles Scott and Giles Guthrie, who flew a Percival Vega Gull in 52 hours, 56 minutes.  Scott’s MacRobertson co-pilot, Tom Campbell Black, died a few days before the race when his Percival Mew Gull was destroyed in a ground accident.   

The All-American Air Maneuvers 

            This Miami race meet was held December 10-12.  More information is forthcoming.

  Part 4-1937  

The International Air Races

            This meet was held May 29-31 at Lambert-St. Louis Municipal Airport, St. Louis, Missouri.   There were two featured races: Sunday’s 50-mile 549 cu. in. Free-for-All, and Monday’s Missouri Brewers’ Association Trophy Race.  The first was won by Rudy Kling in a Folkerts Racer at 233.7 mph, with Marion McKeen second in the Brown B-2 at 229.2 mph, and Steve Wittman third in his “Chief Oshkosh” at 201.1 mph.  In the second feaured race, Gus Gotch won at 251.6 mph in the Schoenfeldt Special (Keith Rider R-4). Second was Marion McKeen at 220.5 mph, and third was Wittman at 212.3 mph  

The Circuit of the Alps Race 

            This was an example of how the sport of air racing could be used for propaganda purposes.   The Zurich (Switzerland) International Week included three divisions of the 230-mile race around Alpine peaks and through picturesque valleys on July 25.  The first went to German Maj. Seidemann in a 650 hp Me-109 fighter at 240.9 mph.  The second went to German Maj. Polte in a Dornier Do.17 bomber at 233.5 mph.  And the third was won by a 640 hp Me-109 at 255 mph, with Charles Gardner second at 220 mph in a 200 hp Percival Mew Gull.  

The Istres-Damascus-Paris Race 

          To replace the cancelled New York-to-Paris Race, a race of 3,850 miles from the south of France to Syria and back to Paris was scheduled for August 20-21.  Two dozen entries were received, of which 13 started and 7 finished.  Italian Air Force Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 tri-motored bombers took the first three places with times between 17:32:45 and 18:03:35.  In fourth was Alex Clouston in the MacRobertson-winning Comet.    

The National Air Races                              

            The Americans quickly recovered from the embarrassment of losing to a French pilot and airplane, and produced some of the closest racing ever seen.

 In the Bendix Trohy Race from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Frank Fuller won in a prototype of the Seversky P-35 Army pursuit, clocking 258.24 mph to break Jimmy Haizlip’s 1932 record.  In second, at 224.83 mph, was Earl Ortman in the Marcoux-Bromberg, and in third was Jackie Cochran in a Beech 17 at 194.74 mph. 

The Greve Trophy Race saw three pilots finish in the space of  4½ seconds: Rudy Kling in the Folkerts SK-3 at 232.272 mph, Steve Wittman in “Chief Oshkosh” at 231.990 mph, and Gus Gotch in the Keith Rider R-4 at 231.593 mph.  

In the 200-mile Thompson Trophy Race, Rudy Kling dove at the finish line to nip Earl Ortman by 0.6 seconds: 256.91 mph to 256.86 mph.  Roscoe Turner was third in his new #29 “Meteor” at 253.80 mph, Frank Sinclair was fourth in a Seversky at 252.36 mph, and Steve Wittman was fifth in his V-12 powered “Bonzo” at 250.11 mph.  

The 16th King's cup Race

              It started on September 11 from Hatfield, with a first-day’s race being an all-out speed affair for 787 miles around the British Isles.  For the second day, it was a handicapped race of 656 miles. The 31-plane starting line up may have been unmatched for variety and sportyness.   The winner was Charles Gardner in a Mew Gull at 233.7 mph, second was A.C. Lewin in a Miles Whitney Straight at 145 mph, and third was Edgar Percival in his latest Mew Gull at 239 mph.   

All-American Air Maneuvers 

            Held December 3-5 at Miami, Florida.  Rudy Kling crashed fatally in the Folkerts SK-3 Jupiter at the scatter pylon.  

Part 5 – 1938  

The Pacific International Air Races

            Held at Oakland (California) Airport from May 28-30, it attracted most of the big names in the sport.  Young Tony LeVier dominated the 549 cu. in. races in the Schoenfelt “Firecracker” by winning the 75-miler at 249.351 mph and the 100-miler at 251.01 mph   In the latter, Gus Gotch crashed fatally in the Folkerts “Toots”, just re-named “The Foo”.  The main race of the weekend was the 150-mile Unlimited Golden Gate International Exposition Trophy Race.   It was an unusually exciting event, with Earl Ortman (Marcoux-Bromberg) repeatedly swapping the lead with Roscoe Turner (“Meteor”).  Ortman prevailed by 0.6 seconds, as he averaged a closed-course record 265.539 mph to Turner’s 265.457 mph.  

    The 17th King's Cup Race

            Hatfield on July 2 was again the base for this long-running handicap race.  This time it was for 20 laps of a 50.6-mile course for a total of 1,012 miles.  The winner, among 19 starters, was Alex Henshaw in a Mew Gull at 236.25 mph.  Second was Giles Guthrie in another Mew Gull at 221 mph, and third was L.H.T. Cliff in a Miles Hawk Major at 146 mph. 

 The National Air Races 

          The trend toward very expensive airplanes requiring major sponsorship or very good connections was growing.  The “little guy” who designed and built his racer in a small shop was slipping into the background. 

           The Bendix Race saw  all six finishers flying manufactured airplanes.  In first was Jackie Cochran at 249.77 mph in a Seversky military prototype.  In second was Frank Fuller at 238.60 mph in a similar airplane.  And in third was Paul Mantz in a Lockheed Orion at 206.58 mph.   

            The Greve Trophy Race, for 550 cu. in. engines, was a shining exception to the new trend.  Tony LeVier won   at 250.886 mph in the “Firecracker”, while Art Chester was second in his new “Goon” at 250.416 mph.  The margin of victory after 200 miles was 5 seconds. 

            The Thompson Trophy Race went to Roscoe Turner by more than three minutes, with a record 283.42 mph in his 1,000 hp “Meteor”.  Earl Ortman was second at 269.72 mph, and Steve Wittman was third at 259.19 mph.  

Part 6 – 1939 

  The all-American Air Maneuvers

              It was held near Miami, Florida, on the weekend of January 5-7  

The King’s Cup Race

              It was scheduled for September 2 at Birmingham, but was cancelled because of the expected declaration of war.  

The National Air Races

              During the September 2-5 Labor Day weekend races, the German army invaded Poland, starting World War II.  The races went on, as America was still isolated from Europe. 

            The Bendix Race was the preserve of factory-built airplanes, with not a single custom-built racer involved.  The winner, Frank Fuller, flew a Seversky prototype and averaged a record 282.10 mph.   In second place was Arthur Bussy in the novel tri-motored Bellanca 28-92, at 244.49 mph.  Paul Mantz was third in his Lockheed Orion at 234.88 mph. 

            The final Greve Trophy Race had just four starters, with Lee Williams crashing fatally in the Brown “Miss Los Angeles”.  Art Chester, the only finisher, clocked a record 263.390 mph.  Tony LeVier was averaging 272 mph when he was forced to drop out on lap 12 of the 20-lap race.   

            The 1939 Thompson Trophy Race was the end of an era dominated by true racing airplanes.  Roscoe Turner won his third Thompson and second in a row by averaging 282.54 mph.  Tony LeVier was second in the “Firecracker” at 272.54 mph, and Earl Ortman was third in the Marcoux-Bromberg at 254.44 mph.  

Part 7 – 1940  

The All American Air Maneuvers

              They were held January 5-7 at Miami, Florida 

Part 8 – 1941 

 The All American Air Maneuvers

            They were held January 10-12 at Miami, Florida.

Concise History –

Chapter 5 –            After the Second World War 

Part 1 – 1946 

            Post-World War II American air racing experienced the biggest changes in the sport’s history.  Most obvious was the shift from a mixture of custom-built and modified factory-built airplanes to ex-military airplanes, sold dirt-cheap to returning Army and Navy pilots.  They offered the additional major advantages of unprecedented speed and durability, with the result that no pre-war racer was ever raced against them. 

            In addition, there was the beginning of a structural shift in the sport to the dividing of airplanes into Clear-cut classes, starting with what was eventually called the Unlimited Class.  The classic Thompson and Bendix Trophy Races continued for a few years, but were split into Reciprocating and Jet Divisions, though the latter were open only to the military and were never much more than spectaCles. 

            The world’s first pylon race that included jets was the September 1 Lympne High Speed Handicap, at Lympne, England, one day before the first Thompson-Jet Division race.  Finishing the three-lap affair in first place was a Hawker Fury at 342 mph.  But in second was W. Humble in a deHavilland Vampire jet fighter at 427 mph, while in third was Geoffrey deHavilland Jr. in a deH. Hornet at 343.5 mph.            

The National Air Races 

            Cleveland Airport was again the scene of the Labor Day extravaganza, on August 30 to September 2.   The field was full of war surplus fighter planes: P-38 Lightnings, P-39 Airacobras, P-51 Mustangs, P-63 King Cobras and F4U Corsairs, along with AT-6 trainers to be raced by women who were still excluded from men’s pylon races, though not from the Bendix. 

            The first event was the 2,048-mile grind from Los Angeles for the Bendix Trophy.  Entries included 14 P-38’s, 4 P-51’s, 2 P-63’s, one Corsair and an A-26 attack bomber.  Early model Mustangs took all four of the top spots, with pre-war veteran Paul Mantz winning at a record 435.501 mph.  He was able to speed non-stop on internal fuel, thanks to a then-novel wet wing.   In second was veteran Jackie Cochran at 420.925 mph, and in third was Tommy Mason, flying Mantz’s other Mustang, at 408.220 mph.    

            The Halle Trophy Race for women saw Margaret Hurlburt win the 75-mile race at 200.59 mph.  In second, trailing by less than one second, was Jane Page at 200.46 mph, and in third was Ruth Johnson at 196.22 mph  

            The Thompson Trophy Race extended for 10 laps of a 30-mile course.   Winner  Alvin “Tex” Johnston, in a factory-prepared Bell P-39 “Cobra II”, raced for more than 48 minutes, finishing at a record 373.908 mph.  In second was pre-war racer Tony LeVier at 370.193 mph in a P-38 thought by most to be too large for pylon racing.  Third went to veteran Earl Ortman in a Mustang at 367.193 mph.   

Part 2 – 1947 

 The All American Air Maneuvers

            The January 10-12 winter fixture was resumed with emphasis on the encouragement of private flying, along with aerobatics and a limited schedule of racing.  In view of the visual appeal of Cleveland’s Thompson and Sohio Trophy Races, they held a race for similar airplanes over 15 laps of a 15-mile course.  The winner was Paul Penrose in a P-51 Mustang at 307.605 mph.   In second was Charley Walling in a P-38 at 304.740 mph, and in third was Bruce Raymond in the P-51 “Galloping Ghost” at 302.775 mph. 

The National Air Races 

            Opening the August 30-September 1 meet was the Bendix Race in which half the entrants flew P-51’s, and each of them beat every other type of airplane, solidifying the Mustang’s superiority in long-distance competition.  Winner for the second time was Paul Mantz, at a record 460.423 mph.   Joe DeBona was two minutes behind in second at 458.203 mph, while third went to Ed Lunken at 408.723 mph. 

            The entry list for the women’s race grew from 5 to 12, as more airframe modifications were permitted.  The winner was Ruth Johnson at a record 223.29 mph, well ahead of Grace Harris at 215.09 mph and Edna Gardner Whyte at 210.79 mph.  The pilots of both Ranger V-12 powered AT-6E’s dropped out. 

            The big new idea for 1947 was the 190 Cu. In. Class of 85 hp custom-built midget racers weighing as little as 500 lbs.  With a $25,000 purse offered by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., it drew 13 modified-pre-war and newly-built racers.  In first place after a series of elimination and semi-final heats, was Steve Wittman protégé Bill Brennand in “Buster” at 165.857 mph.  Paul Penrose was second in Art Chester’s V-tailed “Swee’ Pea” at 165.393 mph, just two seconds behind.  In third and fourth were “Fish” Salmon in the Cosmic Wind and Tony LeVier in the identical “Little Toni”.  The Goodyear midgets were an immediate hit with the crowd, producing the close, safe competition at a reasonable cost which had been promised as an antidote to the problems facing the races for ex-military airplanes. 

            As usual, the last event on Monday’s program was the race for the Thompson Trophy.  Four of the pilots flew rare Goodyear F2G Corsairs with their 4,000 hp engines.  Cook Cleland won at a record 396.131 mph, followed by his partner, Dick Becker, at 390.133 mph, both in F2G’s.  Jay Deming was two seconds back in the 1946-winning airplane at 389.837 mph.

  Part 3-1948 

The All American Air Maneuvers 

            The success of the first Goodyear Trophy Race at Cleveland encouraged the January 9-11 Miami races to follow suit, and they enrolled Continental Motors Corp. as sponsor, since its C-85 engines were performing so well in all the midget racers.   Twelve pilots qualified, many of them the same as at Cleveland.   Bill Brennand set a national one-lap qualifying record at 170.213 mph and then won the 12-lap, 24-mile finals at 166.473 mph.  In second was “Fish” Salmon in LeVier’s Cosmic Wind, at 158.532 mph, and in third, Art Chester in his “Swee’ Pea” at 145.650 mph. 

The National Air Races 

            The futility of entering anything but a P-51 in the Bendix Trophy Race was recognized by its short entry list: 5 Mustangs and a deHavilland Mosquito.  One of the Mustangs dropped out, and the others took the first four places.   Paul Mantz won his third consecutive Bendix with a speed of 447.980 mph.  His other airplane, flown by Linton Carney, finished one minute back, at 446.112 mph.  Jackie Cochran was third by 10 seconds, at 445.847 mph, for the closest finish in Bendix history. 

            Twenty-seven pure racing airplanes showed up for the Goodyear Trophy Race, with the top qualifier being Art Chester, who set a national class record of 180.00 mph in his new “Swee’ Pea II”.  Winner of the Finals was “Fish” Salmon in his Cosmic Wind “Minnow”, 2¼ seconds ahead of Steve Wittman in his new little “Bonzo”, who was 2 seconds ahead of Chester.  They were clocked at 169.608 mph, 168.862 mph and 168.201 mph.  The competitiveness of the new class was obvious. 

            In the Kendall Trophy Race for women flying AT-6’s, Grace Harris was the easy winner at a record 234.962 mph.  Kaddy Landry edged Dot Lemon for second place by ½ second. 

            The Thompson Trophy Race looked like a big win for Chuck Brown in “Cobra II”, as he broke the qualifying record with 418.300 mph, and set a one-lap race record of 413.097 mph while stretching his lead to more than a lap.  But with just a few miles to go, he slowed and then dropped out with vapor lock.  Cleland’s and Becker’s F2G’s had pulled out early, with damaged air scoops.  With just three of the 10 starters flying at the finish, Anson Johnson won in a stock-looking P-51, averaging 383.767 mph while having flown one lap at 394 mph. 

Part 4 -- 1949 

The All-American Air Maneuvers 

            The Continental Trophy Race, from January 7 to 9, drew just nine entries.  Art Chester led time trials at 174.334 mph.  In the 24-mile Finals, Steve Wittman won at 176.867 mph, with Bill Brennand second in Steve’s older midget, at 174.193 mph.  Bob Heisel was third in Curtiss Pitts’ first racer, at 170.011 mph. 

Regional Midget Races 

            One of the goals of the new class was the spread of regional racing.  Three such races were scheduled for April and May in California.   In the first—the San Diego Gold Cup Race, April 23-24—designer/builder/pilot and President of the Professional Race Pilots Association (PRPA) Art Chester high-speed stalled, crashed and died.  That meet continued and the other two were held successfully at Newhall on May 8 and at Ontario on May 22, giving pilots and crews valuable experience which would pay off in national races. 

The18th King's Cup Race

            After a gap of 10 years, the classic British handicap race was resumed on July 30 at Elmdon.   Conducted for three laps around a four-pylon, 20-mile course, it attracted the 13 pilots who had survived a series of elimination races at prior meets.  The winner was J.N. Somers in a Miles Gemini light twin at 164.25 mph.  In second, at 184 mph, was Ron Paine in a Miles Hawk Speed Six which had been racing since 1935.  And in third place was Tony Cole in a 1930’s Comper Swift at 126 mph.  

The National Air Races 

            The Bendix Race was won at a record speed of 470.136 mph by Joe DeBona in the P-51B he had raced previously.  Mantz’s two Mustangs followed, Stanley Reaver in second at 450.221 mph, and “Fish” Salmon in third at 449.214 mph, a mere 36 seconds slower after more than four hours of racing. 

            In the Women’s Trophy Race, Grace Harris repeated as winner, averaging just 216.673 mph, as fewer modifications were permitted this year.  Placing second was Kaddy Landry at 214.876 mph, and third was Helen McBride at 210.097 mph. 

            The Goodyear Trophy Race drew a record 37 entries and 25 starters, with Billie Robinson setting a qualifying record of 183.326 mph in “Little Toni”, as LeVier was concentrating on test flying for Lockheed.  The Finals, for 12 laps around the 1¾-mile oval course, went to Bill Brennand for the second time, at 177.340 mph.  Keith Sorenson placed second in “Deer Fly” at 176.726 mph, and Steve Wittman was third in ”Bonzo” at 176.244 mph.  The first six airplanes crossed the finish line in the space of less than six seconds. 

            The Thompson Trophy Race’s 10 starters included three in Goodyear F2G Corsairs and round-the-world record holder Bill Odom in the most extensively modified Mustang yet, the “Beguine”.  On lap two, he misjudged a turn, tried to correct and crashed into a house, killing a woman, her child and himself, in the first racing accident in memory which involved innocent parties.  Cook Cleland went on to win his second

Thompson Trophy at a record 397.071 mph, Ron Puckett was second in another F2G at 393.527 mph, and Ben McKillen completed the Corsair sweep by placing third at 387.589 mph. 

            This would be the last multi-class National Air Races for 15 years, and the last race at Cleveland for 18 years.  Never again would the Bendix and Thompson Trophies be awarded to winners of major races.   While the fatal accident was the most obvious reason, it was far from the only reason.  Major sponsors had shifted their work to jet-propelled airplanes and found it hard to justify bank-rolling races for propeller planes.  The following June, when war broke out in Korea, the American military withdrew its airplanes from all air shows, and the Cleveland organizers were left with little besides the midgets, whose sponsor had completed its term.  

Part 5 – 1950 

  The All American Air Maneuvers 

            At Opa-Locka Airport, January 13-15, the Continental Trophy Race drew 19 airplanes: all of the top midgets in the country, plus the first two radical pusher-prop designs, neither of which performed.  Top qualifier was Keith Sorenson in the Cosmic Wind “Ballerina” at a record 186.047 mph.  In the 12-lap Final Race, Steve Wittman won going away at a Finals’ record 185.400 mph.  In second place was Sorenson at 182.044 mph, and in third, Bob Downey in “Shoestring” at 181.334 mph. 

  The 19th King's Cup Race 

            Thirty-six pilots entered the race on June 17 at Wolverhampton.  The race was for three laps of a 62-mile course, and was won by Edward Day in a Miles Hawk Trainer at 138.5 mph.  Second was Peter Townsend in a Hawker Hurricane at 283 mph, and third was A.H. Wheeler in an Auster 5 at 132.5 mph. 

            There were four regional races for midget racers: June 24 at Westchester, New York; June 25 at San Jose, California; July 15-16 at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and September 23-24 at Reading, Pennsylvania. 

The International Air Fair 

            Detroit, Michigan, was the site of the August 11-13 Continental Trophy Race for the 190 Cu. In. Class midgets.  Bob Downey was the top qualifier in the Cosmic Wind “Minnow”, setting a national record of 195.122 mph.  But in the Second Elimination Heat, he and Bill Brennand flew so low and so close together that both were disqualified.  In the Finals, John Paul Jones set a national Finals record of 187.785 mph in winning in the Cosmic Wind “Little Toni”.  Wittman followed at 185.050 mph, and Sorenson was third at 184.576 mph. 

Part 6 – 1951 

            The season consisted of three 190 Cu. In. Class races, at Chattanoga, Reading and Detroit.  The first two were regional events, with Steve Wittman winning both in his “Bonzo”.  He won at Chattanooga at 178.36 mph to Bob Downey’s 176.32 mph in “Minnow”.  At Reading, it was Wittman at 184.694 mph to 180.678 mph for Bob Porter in Steve’s “Buster”. 

The National Air Races 

            Detroit was granted “National” status, even though only the midgets raced, for the Continental Trophy.  The leader, among 22 qualifiers, was John Paul Jones in “Shoestring” at a time trials record 199.778 mph.  In the Final race, for 12 laps around the 2 ½-mile course, it was Jones at another record, 197.218 mph.  Wittman was second at 192.714 mph, and Sorenson was third at 187.476 mph. 

Part 7 – 1952 

The Tennessee Products Cup Race

            Chattanooga was the scene of a small piece of air racing history.  Bill Falck, starting in 1948 with the awkward-looking “Rivets”, had gradually improved its streamlining to the point that he was able to cruise past veteran Steve Wittman for his first win in what would become a great career.  Falck averaged 186.953 mph to Steve’s 186.790 mph. 

The 20th King's Cup Race

            The National Air Races, held July 11-12 at Woolsington Aerodrome, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, included three qualifying rounds of two laps of the 32.8-mile course.  Twenty-three pilots placed high enough to start the King’s Cup Race, for four laps and a total of 131 miles.  Winner was C. Gregory in a Taylorcraft Plus D at 113.5 mph, second was G.R.I. Parker in a Percival Proctor at 146 mph, and third was P.G. Lawrence in a Proctor at 149.5 mph.   The fastest lap was by J.W. Wilson in a deHavilland Vampire jet at 500 mph. 

The National Air Races 

            The Continental Trophy Race at Detroit’s Wayne Major Airport on August 30-September 1 drew 16 entries, four of which broke the imaginary “200 mph barrier” in time trials.  John Paul Jones was fastest, at 203.16 mph, followed by Bill Falck at 200.89 mph, while both Steve Wittman and Jim Miller clocked 200.00 mph.  The 12-lap Finals saw Wittman hold off Jones to win by 0.3 seconds: 197.29 mph to 197.16 mph.  Jones was then penalized for cutting a pylon, elevating Falck to second place at 194.38 mph. 

            While the racing was a success, the air show had its problems.  An Air Force F-89 broke up during a demonstration, killing its two-man crew, and a spectator was killed by lightning.  This was the last National Air Races for a dozen years, and not only the final Continental Trophy Race, but the last American race with a national corporate sponsor for a much longer span of time.             

Chapter 6 –      A Low Point 

Part 1 – 1953 

                The year 1953 was the first in modern American history in which there was no air racing without a war to blame.  The sponsors dried up, and the big meets had passed into history.  All that was left was the pilots and owners and midget racing planes of the Professional Race Pilots Association (PRPA).  It would be up to them to keep the sport alive, a task for which they were not well equipped.   If there were to be any races, it would be up to them to hustle prize money, to plan and to organize and to publicize. 

            In 1953, there was nothing to the American air racing scene but vague talk.

The 21st King's Cup Race 

            Keeping the world from forgetting air racing completely was the British National Air Races, at Southend-on-Sea, June 20.  Three qualifying races, each for three laps around the 10-mile course, led to the King’s Cup Race.   The 12 finalists flew six laps, with Pat Fillingham winning in a deHavilland Chipmunk at 142 mph.  W.P. Bowles was second in a Miles Messenger at 133 mph, and D.R. Robertson was third at 115 mph in a deHavilland Moth Minor.

  Part 2 - 1954

  The 22nd King's Cup Race 

            Baginton Airport, Coventry, was the scene of the June 19 race, which began with a series of qualifying races to select the 15 British pilots to start the main event, for 4 laps of the 17-mile course.  The winner was H. Wood in a Miles Messenger at 133 mph, second was M.A. d’Arcy in another Messenger at 129 mph, and third was Miss Freydis Leaf in a Miles Hawk Major at 138 mph.  She also won the annual point championship. 

The Western New York Air Races 

            Thanks to the hard work of members of PRPA, now based at Rochester, New York, a small meet was organized for Dansville, N.Y. (population 5,000), and having a total purse of $4,000   Eleven pilots showed up, eager to race.  Among the newcomers was TWA Capt. Tom Cassutt with his yellow midwing #111.  Time trials around the 2-mile, 6-pylon oval course were won by Bill Falck at 190.982 mph, though he lost any chance at the Finals by cutting a pylon in a preliminary heat.  The Finals went to Jim Miller in his “Little Gem” at 181.956 mph, with Dick Ohm second in “Shoestring” at 180.942 mph and Bob Porter third in “Buster” at 176.326 mph.   

Part 3 – 1955 

The Western New York Air Races 

             This second race at Dansville, N.Y., (July 2-3) was much like the first: small, competitive, fun for those present, and unknown to the rest of the world.  Bill Falck won the Finals at 186.851 mph, to Wittman’s 185.328 mph and Dick Ohm’s 181.818 mph.  Newcomer Cassutt placed fourth at 180.678 mph. 


            Through all the ups and downs of American air racing, the King’s Cup Race remained steady and reliable.  On August 20, Coventry again saw three qualifying races leading up to the feature race.  Fifteen pilots took part, with the winner over four laps of a 17-mile course was Peter Clifford in the sole surviving Percival Mew Gull at 213.5 mph.  In second was Peter Vanneck in a deHavilland Tiger Moth at 106 mph, and in third, J.R. Johnston in a Miles Hawk Trainer at 140 mph.  

Part 4 – 1956 

Regional Midget Races 

            There were three small regional races for the 190 Cu. In. Class on the American schedule, a hint that better times might be coming.  The first was at Springfield, Illinois, on May 26-27, which attracted seven entries.  Bill Falck won the feature race at 191.07 mph to Wittman’s 190.02 mph and Cassutt’s 188.77 mph.   The second race was at Niagara Falls, New York, on July 7-8, where longer straightaways contributed to Falck’s record speed of 208.81 mph, to Wittman’s 204.54 mph and Cassutt’s 203.16 mph.  The final regional race of the summer was at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, not yet the sporting aviation capital of the world, where Wittman won on the short course at 196.84 mph, followed by Falck at 196.72 mph and Dick Ohm at 188.45 mph. 

  The 24th King's Cup Race 

            This July 21 race at Coventry combined several others, for which trophies were awarded.  The course for the top 15 in the Championship point standings was four laps of 17 miles, each.  The winner was James Denyer in an Auster Alpha at 124 mph, second was Alfred Paine in a Percival Proctor at 153.5 mph, and third was David Ogilvy in a Comper Swift at 133 mph. 

  Part 5 - 1957 

The 25th King's Cup Race 

            Highlight of the July 14 event at Coventry was the debut of the Miles Sparrowjet, much of whose airframe had raced as a Sparrowhawk from 1935 to 1950.   It was now powered by a pair of small French turbojet engines.  The race was for one lap of a 42-mile triangular course, and was won by Fred Dunkerley in the Sparrowjet at 228 mph.  Placing second was J. Rush in a Miles Falcon Six at 172.75 mph, and third was Walter Bowles in a Miles Monarch at 137.75 mph.

International Air Show & Races 

            This was a small race with a big name, though it occupied the same part of Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s Winnebago County Airport as would the EAA Fly-Ins, starting 13 years later.  The August 11 12-lap race around the 1¾-mile, six-pylon oval was won by local hero Steve Wittman at 192.76 mph, followed by Tom Cassutt at 187.04 mph and Bill Falck at 186.39 mph.. 

The First National Championship Air Races 

            Another race with an exaggerated title, it was the start of a four-year run at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 29-31.  Twelve pilots and airplanes were on the field, with Wittman leading time trials at 203.16 mph and the steadily improving Cassutt second at 201.79 mph.  In the 12-lap, 30-mile Finals, Falck beat Wittman by one second: 196.65 mph to 196.29 mph.  Cassutt placed third at 191.42 mph. 

Part 6 – 1958 

Central New York Air Show & Races 

            Fulton, New York, was host to the first race of the year, on July 5-6.  Ten pilots competed, with Falck and Wittman tied in time trials at 201.79 mph, and Cassutt close at 200.89 mph. The Finals was one of the most closely fought races ever, with the lead changing as often as several time in a single lap.   The winner was Falck at 196.72 mph, second was Cassutt at 196.19 mph, and third was Wittman at 192.24 mph. 

  The 26th King's Cup Race 

            Still based at Coventry, this classic event on July 12 drew the top seven finishers in each of three preliminary races.  The winner of the race for four laps of an 18-mile closed course was J.H. Denyer in a Tiger Moth at 118.5 mph.  Placing second was R.H. McIntosh in a Percival Proctor at 152 mph, and third was W.H. Bailey in a Miles Hawk Trainer at 128 mph. 

The 2nd National Championship Air Races

            This repeat race was held August 29-31 for the largest purse in several years, $7,500.   A sure sign of growth was the entry list of 14, including several airplanes that hadn’t been raced in more than five years.   Time trials around the 2 3/8ths-mile course was won by Tom Cassutt at 200.70 mph, with second going to Falck at 197.92 mph and third to Goodyear veteran Jim Miller (#14 “Little Gem”) at 194.32 mph.  In the12-lap Finals, Cassutt gained his first victory at 195.80 mph, with Wittman second at 193.95 mph and Falck third at 193.15 mph. 

Part 7 – 1959 

The 27th King's Cup Race 

            The previous year’s location, course and format were repeated for the 21 entries.  Winner, at 143 mph, was A.J. Spiller in a Percival Proctor.  Next was Ron Paine in the Miles Hawk Speed Six at 189 mph, and third was H.G. Davies in a Miles Gemini at 167 mph.     

The 3rd National Championship Air Races 

            This was the only American pylon race of the year, attracting 13 entries for the September 19-21 event.  Time trials saw Falck’s 1956 record broken by Jim Miller, with a lap at 209.56 mph.  Falck was second at 206.52 mph, while Cassutt was third at 205.53 mph in his new ultra-light (435 lbs.) midget. 

            The Finals was for 15 laps and 36 miles, with Jim Miller winning at 199.15 mph, to 196.94 mph for Falck, Paul Booth was third in a new Garland Pack racer at 188.49 mph, and Cassutt fourth at 182.12 mph. 

Part 8 – 1960 

  The 4th National Championship Air Races 

            July 2-4 saw this meet that drew 13 entries, including the first foreign pilot to race in the USA in many years: Norwegian airline Capt. Jan Christie, new owner of the lightweight #11 Cassutt Racer.  In time trials, Miller was first at 207.52 mph, Falck second at 204.06 mph and Mel Stickney third in “Deer Fly” at 197.92 mph.  In the first heat, Christie became the first non-American to win in the USA since Michel Detroyat at Los Angeles in 1936. 

            In the Consolation, an era ended when popular pilots Jim Rice and Charlie Bishop collided at the scatter pylon and crashed fatally.  After a long interval, the Finals were conducted, with Miller winning again, at 200.23 mph to Falck’s 198.89 mph.  Plans for the 1961 Ft. Wayne races were cancelled due to the inability to attract a military demonstration team.  It would be the last American race for several years. 

 The 28th King's Cup Race

            A week later, at Baginton, Coventry, the top seven pilots in each of three qualifying races competed for the classic trophy over 4 laps of a 17-mile course.  First place went to John de M. Severne in a 30 hp VW-powered Druine Turbulent single-seater at 109 mph.  In second, also flying a Turbulent, was C.P. Francis at 97.5 mph, and in third, W.H. Bailey in his Hawk Trainer at 133 mph. 

Part 9 – 1961 

  The 29th King's Cup Race 

            The standard system continued for the July 9 race, with 21 entries, though foreign airplanes were allowed.  The winner was Brian Iles in a Miles M.18 at 142 mph, second was R.H. McIntosh in a Cessna 175 at 145.5 mph, and third was T.G. Knox in a Proctor at 161 mph.  The highest speed in the race was 298 mph by Viv Bellamy in a Spitfire Mk.VIII Trainer. 

Part 10 – 1962 

   The 30th King's Cup Race

            The August 18 race was again at Coventry and for 67½ miles.  It was open to the top finishers in the Air League, John Morgan and Tiger Moth Trophy Races.  First place went to Peter Clifford in a little Tipsy Nipper at 101 mph, second to Ron Paine in a Hawk Speed Six at 189.5 mph, and third was a rare tie between Dennis Hartas in a Tiger Moth at 121.5 mph and A.J. Spiller in a Proctor at 145.5 mph. 

            While there would be no pylon racing in the USA in 1961-1962-1964, there was a development which would play a major role in the future of air racing in both the USA and Europe.  In 1962, designer/builder/pilot Tom Cassutt, a self-educated aeronautical engineer, produced professional quality construction drawings to a modified version of his first midget racer, which he called the 111m.  By bypassing the difficult jobs of designing and proving a new design, he speeded up the flow of new airplanes and thus new pilots into the 190 Cu. In. Class.  

Part 11 – 1964 

 The 31st King's Cup Race

            The entire 1964 world air race season occurred on August 5 at Coventry, England, when a planned 3-day meet was cut to one by bad weather.  Three preliminary races were held, then the King’s Cup, for four laps of the 18-mile course.  The winner was Paul Bannister in a Tipsy Nipper at 102.5 mph, second was Ranald Porteus in a Beagle Airedale at 137.5 mph, and third was A.J. Spiller in a Cessna 18 at 162.5 mph   

            In the USA, where there had not been a race since 1960, there was real fear that a once great sport was gone.

 Concise History – Chapter 7 – The Phoenix Arises in the Desert

Part 1 – 1964

The 32nd King’s Cup Race

Two trophy races at Shoreham on July 18 produced 22 starters for the King’s Cup at Coventry on August 1, where they flew four laps of the 18-mile course. The winner, at 185 mph, was Dennis Hartas in the Cosmic Wind "Ballerina", which had been imported from the USA, and was the first non-British airplane to win the Cup. In second was Ron Paine in the Hawk Speed Six at 187.5 mph, and third was a tie between Peter Masefield in a Chipmunk at 144.3 mph and A.J. Spiller in his Cessna 180 at 160.8 mph.

The First National Championship Air Races

A solution to what had been feared were fatal problems in American air racing came from a most unlikely source: a hydroplane racing champion in the high desert of western Nevada. Bill Stead created the National Championship Air Races with almost no help from experienced people, and it worked! He took a barren stretch of his own cattle ranch northeast of Reno, Nevada, and turned it into the air racing center of the world.

For 10 days from September 12 through 20, the Clear Nevada sky was host to four classes of pylon racing, and a transcontinental race from Florida. The 2,255-mile race from Florida attracted 8 pilots, all in P-51 Mustangs. The winner, at 319 mph, was Wayne Adams. In second, at 308 mph, was Chuck Lyford, and in third, at 277 mph, was C.E. Crosby.

The new Stock Plane Class, for women flying Piper Cherokees, was won by Irene Leverton with a best heat at 143.46 mph. Mary Barr was second at 141.79 mph, and Judy Wagner was third at 136.69 mph. The new Sport Biplane Class race for small homebuilts was swept by Knight Twister pilots. Clyde Parsons won at 144.57 mph. Tom Shannon was second at 143.41 mph, and Jim Nagle was third at 131.50 mph.

In the 190 Cu. In. Class, Bob Porter won in Jim Miller’s "Little Gem" at 193.44 mph. Steve Wittman was second in his "Bonzo" at 187.42 mph, and Art Scholl was third in "Miss San Bernardino" at 171.76 mph. All three airplanes dated back to the Goodyear Trophy Races of the late 1940’s, while last-place Jerry Quarton flew the first of the new plans-built Cassutt Racers.

The newly-named Unlimited Class attracted 5 pilots in P-51s, and 3 in Grumman F8F Bearcats. Top qualifier was Bob Love in the transcontinental race winner, at 395.46 mph. After a long series of heat races, the winner on points was Mira Slovak in Bill Stead’s Bearcat, with a best speed of 355.52 mph. Bob Love was second on points, despite the best speed of 381.96 mph. Clay Lacy, in a P-51, was third with a best of 354.74 mph.

In just a few days, the morale of American air racing people went from rock-bottom to through-the-roof.

Part 2 – 1965

From one experimental race in 1964, American racing grew to five in 1965. While this growth may have been too fast, since it attracted a couple of highly questionable promoters, there was no desire to slow it. Inactive airplanes were dusted off, others were quickly modified, and the impact of EAA’s rapidly expanding amateur-building movement began to show.

The International Air Races

On March 27-28, a race meet was held at Tampa-St. Petersburg Airport, Florida. It failed to live up to its flamboyant billing, but did bring racing back to the state after 15 years’ absence. The Sport Biplane and 190 Cu. in. Classes each drew five entries. In the Biplane group, there were two Pitts Spcials, an EAA Biplane, a Knight Twister and a special. The winner, flying a Pitts, was Pat Ledford at 137.7 mph. In second was "Skeeter" Royall in a Pitts at 136.7 mph, and in third was Jack Lowers in his own design, at 126.7 mph.

The midgets were led in time trials by Bob Downey in the Jim Miller "Little Gem" at 197.17 mph, followed by Bob Porter in Miss Cosmic Wind at 187.57 mph, and Bill Falck at 184.42 mph. The Finals, for 12 laps of a 2 ½-mile course, saw the two leading airplanes clocked in exactly the same time, though the finish line judges gave the win to Falck "by a few feet", as he and Downey were timed at 200.75 mph.

Los Angeles National Air Races

Intended as a copy of the successful races at Reno, this event lacked the solid leadership, organization and financing. Nevertheless, it achieved most of its goals, offering three classes of racing at Fox Field, Lancaster, near Edwards AFB. It began on the weekend of May 29-30, with the Final races postponed until June 6 due to very high winds.

In the Sport Biplane Class, there were four heats and Finals on the 2 ½-mile course. The winner was future aerobatic great Bob Herendeen in a Pitts Special at 126.08 mph. In second, Mike Strboya in a Meyers "Little Toot" at 125.52 mph, and in third, Jack Wells in a Stolp Starduster at 123.56 mph.

There were no time trials for the midgets, so the fastest seven from the heat races went into the Finals. The winner was Bob Downey at 194.66 mph, second was Art Scholl at 191.02 mph, and third was Bud Jury in the Pack "Little A-Go-Go" at 190.64 mph.

Nine Unlimiteds qualified on the 9-mile course, led by Clay Lacy at 381.63 mph and Chuck Lyford at 380.28 mph. In the Finals it was Chuck Lyford winning in the Bardahl Mustang at 390.61 mph. Placing second was Clay Lacy at 370.54 mph, and third, Mira Slovak at 369.64 mph.

 The 33rd King’s Cup Race

Two elimination rounds led to the King’s Cup Race, August 21 at Coventry. It began as two heats for the winners of the preliminary rounds, each for five laps of an eight-mile course. The first six finishers in each went to the finals, for five laps. The winner was John Stewart-Wood in a Cessna 172 at 131.5 mph. Placing second, John Miles in a Chipmunk at 132.5 mph, and third, Louis Dunkerly in a 172 at 130.5 mph.

 The 2nd National Championship Air Races

The 1964 plan worked and so much of it was repeated at Bill Stead’s Sky Ranch on September 6 to 12.

Nine pilots started the transcontinental race from Clearwater, Florida, to Reno Municipal Airport, with all but one flying a P-51. The winner was E.D. Weiner at 348.6 mph, followed by Clay Lacy at 342.4 mph and Wayne Adams at 331.4 mph.

The Women’s Race was open to a variety of airplanes, but drew only three. Judy Wagner won in her Beech Bonanza at 182.23 mph. In second was Irene Leverton in a Piper Comanche at 166.24 mph. And in third, Nan Giroux in a Cessna 210 at 163.75 mph.

In the Sport Biplane Class, the top qualifier was Bill Boland in a Mong Sport at 152.80 mph, followed by 1964 winner Clyde Parsons at 148.76 mph and Ralph Ormsbee in a Smith Miniplane at 120.81 mph. In the 8-lap Finals, it was Boland first at 148.68 mph, Parsons second at 146.06 mph, and Fred Rechenmacher third in his EAA Biplane at 118.81 mph.

The 190 Cu. In. Class race saw 12 entries, led in time trials by Bill Falck at 205.48 mph, followed by Bob Porter at 203.16 mph and Bob Downey at 195.51 mph. In the Finals, Bob Porter won at 202.14 mph, Falck was second at 196.19 mph, and Downey was third at 194.44 mph.

Time trials for the Unlimited Class went to Darryl Greenamyer in an increasingly modified Bearcat, at 369.70 mph, with Clay Lacy second at 359.10 mph and Chuck Lyford third at 346.57 mph. In the 10-lap, 80-mile Finals, Greenamyer won easily at 375.10 mph, while Lyford was second at 368.57 mph, and Lacy was third at 356.97 mph.

Las Vegas Inter-National Air Races

Two rival races in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area were scheduled for the weekend of September 24-26. The one at Boulder City was sanctioned by the National Aeronautic Association and thus prevailed, even though it was run by infamous gambler Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. The physical plant was barely acceptable, having heavy power lines running across the Unlimited course.

The Women’s Stock Plane Race was won easily by Judy Wagner at 179.6 mph to Irene Leverton’s 155.2 mph.

The 190 Cu. In. Class race attracted 13 entries, with time trials won by John Paul Jones in Shoestring at 207.9 mph, followed by Bill Falck at 207.4 mph and Bob Porter at 203.1 mph. The length of the race course was estimated on the basis of reasonable speeds, as the announced length was obviously wrong. In the 12-lap Finals, Porter won at 202.4 mph, Falck was second at 202.2 mph (0.4 seconds slower) and Jones was third at 198.0 mph.

The Unlimited Class race had 11 entries: 3 in Bearcats and 8 in Mustangs. The top qualifier was Darrl Greenamyer, whose 423.40 mph broke the record set by Chuck Brown at Cleveland in 1948. The Finals winner was Chuck Lyford (P-51) at 391.62 mph when Greenamyer retired with mechanical problems. In second place was Ben Hall (P-51) at 363.30 mph, and third was Mira Slovak (F8F) at 322.23 mph. 

The International AeroClassic

This event at Palm Springs, California, on November 12-14 was planned as a major aviation industry trade show with competitions for many aviation sports. Despite highly professional organization, it ended up as little more than a 190 Cu. In. Class race supported by some industry displays.

Leading 12 qualifiers was John Paul Jones with 210.28 mph, breaking Jim Miller’s 1959 record. In the 12-lap, 30-mile Finals, Jones won at 202.17 mph, Bob Porter was second at 201.64 mph, and Steve Wittman was third at 191.35 mph. A legal battle over post-race inspections kept the prize money tied up for two years. 

Part 3 –1966

International Aviation Exposition

The second race in the Tampa, Florida, area was at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport from April 28 to May 1. During practice prior to qualifications, a crash in his newly-acquired "Deerfly" midget racer took the life of Reno Air Races founder Bill Stead.

Four pilots competed in the Sport Biplane Class race, with "Skeeter" Royall winning in his modified Pitts Special at 148.76 mph, to Jack Lowers’ 140.68 mph, and Bob Abernathy’s 140.38 mph.

In the 190 Cu. In. Class race, time trials were won by Bill Falck, whose 212.77 mph broke the national record. In second was Bob Downey at 195.65 mph, and in third, rookie Nick Jones in his Cassutt Racer at 192.72 mph. FAI speed trials on a 3-km. straight course produced an unofficial world record of 238.695 mph by Falck. The Finals was won by Falck at 203.01 mph. Wittman was second at 196.01 mph, Downey was third at 193.72 mph, and Jones was fourth at 191.46 mph.

 Los Angeles National Air Races

Held May 28-30 at Fox Field, Lancaster, California, this Don Butterfield-promoted race added to his unfortunate reputation for hit-or-miss operations. As examples, time trials proved to be too much for the timing system, and less than half the advertised purse was paid.

In the Sport Biplane race, Bruce McIntyre (Pitts) won at 139.93 mph, Sid White (Starduster) was second at 138.01 mph, and Bill Boland (Mong) was third at 137.65 mph.

The 190 Cu. in Class race appeared to be a win for Ray Cote (Shoestring), but the post-race inspection revealed improper parts in his engine. First thus went to Bob Downey (Little Gem) at 189.48 mph, second to Art Scholl at 187.97 mph, and third to Nick Jones at 185.36 mph.

The featured Unlimited Class race was a P-51 sweep, as E.D. Weiner won at 375.81 mph, Ben Hall was second at 369.29 mph and hydroplane racer Russ Schleeh was third at 360.29 mph.

The 34th King’s Cup Race

A series of qualifying races produced a starting line-up of 16 airplanes ready to race on August 13 at Coventry. After six laps of the 11-mile course, the winner was John Miles in a Chipmunk at 135 mph, second was Bev Snook in a Jodel DR.1050 at 138 mph, and third was Dennis Hartas in the Cosmic Wind "Ballerina" at 178 mph. 

Washington National Air Races

What could have been the start of a successful series of race at Frederick, Maryland, on September 3-5, was spoiled by Don Butterfield’s management and a spectacular mid-air collision. While much of the world saw pictures of one of the worst-looking crashes in air racing history, the lack of serious injury to the pilots was down-played.

The Women’s race was won by Judy Wagner (Bonanza) at 178.36 mph, second was pre-war racer Edna Gardner Whyte (Aero Commander 200) at 172.72 mph, and third was Pat Arnold (Comanche) at 168.13 mph.

In the Sport Biplane Class, first place was won by Paul Booth (Pitts Special) at 124.28 mph. In second was Jack Lowers (Lowers Special) at 123.32 mph, and third was Clem Fischer (Mong Sport) at 120.00 mph.

The featured 190 cu. In. Class race drew 13 entries. Tied for first in time trials were Steve Wittman and Nick Jones at 194.78 mph. In third was Bill Falck at 193.38 mph. In the 12-lap Final Race, Falck won at 192.76 mph, to 192.38 mph for Bob Downey. The collision at the end of lap 10 overshadowed the competitiveness of the racing. 

The 3rd National Championship Air Races

The Reno races of September 23-25 continued to grow, thanks to the excellent foundation built by the late Bill Stead. Thirty-eight pilots and airplanes filled the spacious ramp and hangars at the new home, the recently deactivated Stead Air Force Base, named for Bill’s brother.

In the Sport Biplane Class, time trials were won by Bruce McIntyre in a Pitts Special at 151.26 mph, followed by Bill Boland in a Mong at 151.01 mph, and Sid White in a Starduster at 146.34 mph. Fifteen pilots raced eight different types. In the Finals, the winner was Chuck Wickliffe in the Dollar Special at 147.72 mph, second was White at 144.72 mph, and third was McIntyre at 144.67 mph.

The 190 Cu. In. Class’ time trials were won by Ray Cote in Shoestring at 204.55 mph, Bill Falck was second in "Rivets" at 200.00 mph, and Steve Wittman was third in "Bonzo" at 195.25 mph. The Finals went to Falck at 193.10 mph after Cote dropped out with engine trouble. Wittman was second at 191.90 mph, and Bob Downey was third in "Little Gem" at 189.01 mph.

The Unlimited Class continued to be a race between the radial-engined Bearcats and the V-12-powered Mustangs. Darryl Greenamyer, in a Bearcat, qualified first at 409.97 mph, Chuck Lyford was second at 390.08 mph and Ben Hall was third at 378.85 mph, both in Mustangs. In the Finals, for 10 laps of the 8-mile course, Greenamyer beat five Mustang pilots to win at 396.22 mph, with Hall second at 372.70 mph, and Clay Lacy third at 360.63 mph. 

Part 4 – 1967

Texas National Air Races

Luck Field, near Ft. Worth, was the site of this May 26-28 three-class race meet.

In the Women’s Class, Judy Wagner led eight qualifiers with a record 192.31 mph. In the Finals, she won at 194.72 mph. Mara Culp was second in an Aero Commander at 187.77 mph, but was dropped to third for cutting a pylon. Elaine Loening was elevated to second at 186.80 mph.

Time trials for the Sport Biplane Class were won by Bruce McIntyre at 136.19 mph, to 135.34 mph for Lee Mahoney in a Starduster, and 131.07 mph for Chuck Wickliffe. In the Finals, it was McIntyre first at 156.17 mph, Mahoney a close second at 155.93 mph, and Wickliffe third at 144.97 mph.

The 190 Cu. In. Class drew 11 entries, with time trials being led by Bob Downey at 200.89 mph, Steve Wittman at 196.94 mph, and Ray Cote at 193.97 mph. In the Finals, Falck was first at 203.97 mph. Wittman would have been a strong second at 203.58 mph, except for a pylon cut. Officially, second was Downey at 200.41 mph. 

The 35th King’s Cup Race

On August 19 at Tollerton Aerodrome, Nottingham, 17 pilots started the 6-lap race around a 12 ½-mile course. The winner, Charles Masefield, flew a P-51D Mustang at 277.5 mph. In second was John Stewart-Wood in a Cessna 172 mph at 135.5 mph, and third was Rex Nicholls in a Chipmunk at 137.75 mph.

The Cleveland National Air Races

The sport returned to its ancestral home on September 2-4 after an absence of 17 years. The site was Burke Lakefront Airport in downtown Cleveland, as the municipal airport had become too busy. It was to be promoter Butterfield’s last stand; he would quickly be forgotten.

The transcontinental race from Palm Springs, California, was won by E. D. Weiner in a P-51, followed by Mike Carroll in a Hawker Sea Fury.

The Women’s Race saw a victory by Pat Arnold in her Comanche at 181.543 mph, second was Edna Gardner Whyte at 176.861 mph, and third was Elaine Loening at 170.334 mph.

In the Sport Biplane race, top qualifier was Lee Mahoney (Starduster) at a record 157.618 mph, with McIntyre second at 154.905 mph. In the Finals, Mahoney won at 155.119 mph, McIntyre was second at 154.493 mph, and Bill Boland was third at 151.108 mph.

The feature of the Labor Day weekend meet was the 190 Cu. In. Class race. Bill Falck led time trials with 206.61 mph, Bob Downey was second at 204.55 mph, and Steve Wittman was third at 200.00 mph. In the 12-lap Final Race, Falck won by less than half a second over Downey: 202.893 mph to 202.722 mph. Wittman was third at 196.757 mph.

The crowds were large, and the site offered a great view of the race course. With a local management team, the meet appeared to have a good future.

The 4th National Championship Air Races

Three weeks later, Reno held its annual event, with more pilots, a wider variety of airplanes and continuation of its perfect safety record.

The transcontinental race saw history made, as Mike Carroll beat all the Mustangs to win at 420 mph in his British Sea Fury, the first time any other type of airplane had beaten the Mustangs in a long-distance race. E.D. Weiner was second in a P-51 at 403 mph, and Dick Kestle was third in a P-51 at 307 mph.

The Sport Biplane Class saw its biggest turn-out, with 19 airplanes. Time trials were won by Bill Boland at 153.584 mph, second was Clem Fischer at 149.502 mph, and third was Sid White at 148.760 mph. After many heat races, the Championship Race produced a win for Boland at 151.643 mph, a second place for White at 151.31 mph, and a third place for McIntyre at 151.286 mph. Four of the six finalists flew Mong Sports.

Thirteen 190 Cu. In Class midgets competed, with Falck leading time trials at 203.160 mph, Cote second at 201.794 mph, and Downey third at 200.000 mph. In the Championship Race, Falck won at 202.703 mph, Downey was second at 201.192 mph, and Cote was third at 200.557 mph.

The Unlimited Class race attracted 11 entries, with Greenamyer taking time trials at 406.780 mph, Lyford second at 398.340 mph and Weiner a surprising third at 397.790 mph. The Championship Race saw a third consecutive win by Greenamyer, this time at 392.621 mph. Weiner was second at 373.712 mph, and Lacy was third at 363.207 mph, as Lyford blew his engine.

 Part 5 – 1968

The Maryland National Air Races

The meet on July 5-7 at Frederick, Maryland, was conducted by John Tegler’s Atlantic Coast Air Races and was better run than the last, though it lost money. All racing was on the longest course yet—3.5 miles—which all-but-guaranteed speed records.

Nine pilots entered the Women’s Stock Plane Class, with Judy Wagner setting a national one-lap record in time trials of 195.23 mph. Dot Etheridge was second in an Aero Commander at 191.38 mph, and Elaine Loening was third in a Meyers 200 at 190.75 mph. In the Finals, Etheridge won at a record 198.11 mph, Loening was second at 195.58 mph, and Pat Arnold (Comanche 260) was third at 182.63 mph.

In the Sport Biplane Class, Dallas Christian smashed all records with a qualifying lap of 178.62 mph in his highly modified "Mongster". "Skeeter" Royall was second at 160.00 mph in a modified Pitts Special, while in third was Michael DuPont in a Pitts at 153.28 mph. In the Finals, it was Christian with a national record for a heat race at 177.16 mph. DuPont was second at 155.97 mph, and Royall was third at 155.53 mph.

The 190 Cu. In. Class became Formula One on January 1 with the increase in the piston displacement limit to 201 cu. in. to accommodate the Continental O-200 engine, as C-85s had become too scarce. This contributed to Bill Falck’s qualifying record of 224.87 mph, adding 11 mph to his 1966 mark. Bob Downey was second at 213.79 mph, and Marion Baker was third in his new "BooRay" at 209.53 mph.

In the Final Heat—10 laps of the 3.5-mile course—Bill Falck overcame the drawback of excessive airframe weight to move to the fore and win by a half second over Bob Downey, 218.18 mph to 217.99 mph, after which Downey was penalized to fifth place for cutting a pylon. Elevated to second was Marion Baker at 205.45 mph, and to third, Jim Wilson (Cassutt "Snoopy") at 200.80 mph. 

The 36th King’s Cup Race

At Nottingham on August 24, this classic event saw the 16 highest placing pilots from a series of qualifying rounds start the six laps of a 13.2-mile course. The winner was Ron Hayter in a deH. Hornet Moth at 121 mph, second was A.J. Spiller in a Cessna 180 at 160.5 mph, and third was John Stewart-Wood in a Cessna 172 at 135 mph. 

The Cleveland National Air Races

The meet went into its second year under local management. The six-pylon oval course, half of which was over Lake Erie, proved popular.

The Women’s Stock Plane race saw Judy Wagner extend her domination of the class, winning time trials at 187.89 mph to Elaine Loening’s 185.19 mph. In the 8-lap Finals, she won at 189.27 mph, to Dot Etheridge’s 188.48 mph.

The Sport Biplane Class drew 10 entries, half of them from the western USA. Top qualifier was Dallas Christian at 173.91 mph, followed by Sid White at 160.29 mph and Michael DuPont at 150.13 mph. In the 12-lap Finals, Christian made it look good, edging DuPont by 1½ seconds: 155.55 mph to 155.22 mph.

The spotlight was on Formula One, where the top two qualifiers were veterans of the 1940’s Goodyear Races: Bill Falck at 214.29 mph and Bob Downey at 209.30 mph. The Finals was another good "show", as Falck beat Downey by 0.45 seconds: 215.246 mph to 215.053 mph. The crowd loved it. 

The 5th National Championship Air Races

The major race of the year, on September 20-22, was opened by the 1,667-mile transcontinental race from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which saw an easy win by E.D. Weiner. His 361.141 mph brought him home more than an hour quicker than runner-up Dick Kestle, also in a Mustang, at 278.458 mph.

A new class bowed in, for stock North American AT-6s and SNJs and Harvard advanced trainers. A demonstration race at Reno in 1967 proved popular, and so they became a part of the program. Nineteen of these warbirds arrived, though only 12 could fit into the preliminary heat races. Top qualifier was Howard Keefe at 179.700 mph, second was Whit Halfhill at 179.104 mph. In the Finals, Hendrik Otzen won at 181.322 mph, Richard Sykes was second at 181.246 mph, and Phil Livingston was third at 180.980 mph. All their races were close and loud.

The Stock Plane Class drew nine entries, Judy Wagner again winning time trials, at 186.528 mph, this time in a new aerobatic Bonanza. In the Finals, she encountered mechanical problems and finished last. The winner was Dot Etheridge in a Meyers 200 at 190.686 mph, second was Elaine Loening in a 200 at 189.391 mph, and third was Mona Coons in a Comanche at 183.284 mph.

The Sport Biplane Class’ 15 qualifiers were led by Dallas Christian at 171.429 mph, Bill Boland at 169.811 mph, and Sid White at 156.295 mph. In the Finals, Christian’s Mongster was too Clean and too powerful for the field, allowing him to win with ease at 175.126 mph. Boland was second at 171.180 mph, and Clem Fischer was third at 155.150 mph. All three flew versions of the Mong Sport.

A dozen Formula Ones were led in time trials by Ray Cote at 210.938 mph, Bill Falck at 210.117 mph, and Marion Baker at 205.323 mph. The poor take-off acceleration of Falck’s heavy "Rivets" allowed Cote to get a huge lead in the Championship Race and to win at 214.605 mph. Falck was well back at 212.355 mph, and Bob Downey was third at 211.869 mph.

In the Unlimited Class, time trials meant less than usual, Chuck Hall leading with just 379.653 mph, as no one risked blowing an engine. The Finals were unusually competitive, with Greenamyer winning his fourth in a row, at 388.654 mph. Barely one second back was Clay Lacy at 388.119 mph, and in third was Hall at 386.852 mph. 

Part 6 – 1969

Florida National Air Races

Held February 14-16 at Executive Airport, Ft. Lauderdale, it was another Atlantic Coast Air Races operation. The opening event was a 930-mile cross-country race in which all six pilots flew P-51 Mustangs. The winner was Ed Bowlin at 310.81 mph, second was Dick Kestle at 293.86 mph.

In the AT-6 Class race, Howard Keefe won Time Trials at 185.25 mph, followed closely by John Trainor at 184.16 mph. In the Championship Race, Trainor won at 175.99 mph, Leo Volkmer was second at 175.14 mph and Keefe was third at 174.10 mph.

The Stock Plane race saw Elaine Loening lead time trials at 195.65 mph, with Dot Etheridge second at 195.30 mph. The Championship Race was won by Berni Stevenson in a Marchetti 260 at a record 198.10 mph, Judy Wagner was second at 189.53 mph, and Etheridge was third at 185.18 mph.

In the Sport Biplane Class, a third qualifying record was set, as Dallas Christian turned 183.01 mph. "Skeeter" Royall was second at 170.62 mph, and Clark Woodard ("Susie Bee") was third at 158.82 mph. The Championship Race was a close battle between winner Christian at 180.96 mph and Royal at 179.95 mph. Christian was then dropped to fourth for cutting a pylon, giving Royall the win and the record.

Bill Falck came back after his loss at Reno to set a Formula One qualifying record of 231.26 mph. Bob Downey was second at 217.30 mph, and Nick Jones was third at 216.00 mph. The Championship Race was called on account of darkness, with Falck declared the winner on the basis of speeds in heat races. 

The Daily Mail Transatlantic Race

From May 4 through 11, contestants could travel between New York’s Empire State Building and London’s Post Office Tower by any combination of vehiCles. Out of 390 competitors, the eastbound winner was Peter Goddard, using a Royal Navy Phantom II plus a motorcyCle and two helicopters, for a time of 5 hours, 11 minutes. For the westbound race, Tom Lecky-Thompson flew a Royal Air Force Harrier, plus helicopters, for a time of 6 hours, 12 minutes.

 The 37th King’s Cup Race

The site was Rochester, Kent, for the July 11-12 event. Two qualifying rounds led to the finals for 16 starters, the winner being Robin d’Erlanger in a single-seat Turbulent at 99.5 mph, second was Charles Masefield in a Beagle Pup at 138.75 mph, and third was Ron Hayter in a Hornet Moth at 123.0 mph.

The St. Louis National Air Races

This new meet was held August 8-10 around a 3-mile oval course at Spirit of St. Louis Airport, Chesterfield, Missouri. It was the first race after PRPA dropped its long-time "men-only" rule in the face of threatened legal action. The sponsor was the St. Louis County Police Welfare Association.

Fourteen pilots entered the AT-6 Class race, with Richard Minges and Ed Snyder tying for first in time trials with a national record of 187.83 mph. In the 8-lap Championship Race, Minges won at 187.70 mph for a national heat record. Snyder was second at 185.53 mph, and John Trainor was third at 184.93 mph.


In the Sport Biplane race, Dallas Christian led 15 qualifiers with 182.43 mph, but then damaged a wing on take-off. In second was "Skeeter" Royal at 167.96 mph, and in third, Clem Fischer at 158.36 mph. The Championship Race, for 8 laps, saw Royal win at 160.39 mph, Fischer second at 157.84 mph, and Earl Hoffman third at 152.27 mph.

The Formula One race drew 13 qualifiers, led by Ray Cote at 227.85 mph, Bill Falck at 227.37 mph, and Bob Downey at 216.87 mph. In the 12-lap Championship Race, Cote got off to a big lead, which Falck methodically reduced, winning in record time by 1.1 seconds: 222.99 mph to Cote’s 222.38 mph. Downey was third at 213.33 mph.

Prospects for a second race at St. Louis were ended by financial irregularities.

The Cleveland National Air Races

Three races in a row were held at Cleveland, but there was no sign of growth. The big development was the opening of the Women’s Stock Plane Class to men.

The Stock Plane race attracted 13 entries, three of them flown by men. Top qualifier, however, was Judy Wagner at a record 199.56 mph, followed by Mary Knapp in a Marchetti 260 at 193.97 mph, and Bob Downey in Elaine Loening’s Meyers 200 at 193.13 mph. In the Championship Race, Judy Wagner won at 196.46 mph, Mary Knapp was second at 193.63 mph, and Elaine Loening was third at 188.16 mph. This would be the last race for this class, as its reason for existence had vanished.

In the AT-6 Class race, the winner of time trials was Bob Mitchem with 187.50 mph. Second was Ed Snyder at 183.67 mph, and third was Richard Minges at 181.09 mph. In the Championship Race, Mitchem won at a heat record 188.20 mph, Minges was second at 185.41 mph, and Snyder was third at 185.03 mph.

Bill Falck again led time trials, at 216.87 mph, Jim Wilson was second at 203.16 mph, and Bob Downey was third at 202.25 mph. In the Championship Race, Falck toyed with Downey, then moved away to win at 213.77 mph to Downey’s 212.89 mph. Steve Witman was third at 206.42 mph. 

The 6th National Championship Air Races

Reno was firmly established as the home of air racing, having already out-lasted several claimants to the title. Action began on September 14 and continued through the 21st. The Harold’s Club Transcontinental Race from Milwaukee drew 10 starters and produced an unusually close finish. Dick Kestle won by 56 seconds over Jack Sliker, 313.12 mph to 312.21 mph. P-51 pilots took the first six places.

The AT-6 Class set records with 27 qualifiers and Ben Hall’s breaking of the "200 mph barrier" with a lap at 200.37 mph. Ed Snyder and Dick Minges tied for second in trials at 191.15 mph. In the Championship Race, Hall won at 190.90 mph, breaking Bob Mitchem’s three-week old record. Minges was second at 182.13 mph, and Don Phillippi was third at 179.89 mph.

Nineteen Sport Biplanes qualified, with Dallas Christian leading at 178.51 mph and Bill Boland second at 174.19 mph. Connie Marsh became the first woman to qualify in a previously men-only class. In the Championship Race, Christian broke "Skeeter" Royall’s seven-month old mark with an average of 184.02 mph, to runner-up Boland’s 183.49 mph. Dave Forbes, in a modified Miniplane, was third at 159.29 mph.

Formula One produced 16 pilots and airplanes, with Ray Cote topping qualifiers at 219.51 mph, Falck second at 214.29 mph, and Marion Baker third at 212.18 mph. In the 12-lap Championship Race, Cote won at a national record 225.55 mph to Falck’s 223.41 mph and Bob Downey’s 212.46 mph. Roy Berry and Jack Jella were involved in a mid-air collision in which neither pilot was hurt and neither airplane suffered more than slight damage.

Darryl Greenamyer continued his domination of the Unlimited Class, by leading 13 qualifiers with 414.63 mph. Clay Lacy was well back in second at 380.60 mph. In the 12-lap, 102-mile Championship Race, Greenamyer broke Cook Cleland’s 20-year old heat race record with an average of 412.63 mph. He led runner-up Chuck Hall (377.23 mph) by more than a lap at the finish.

The England to Australia Race

Honoring the 50th anniversary of the first flight between these two countries in 1919, it was open to all aircraft, which were divided into weight and power classes. It started December 18 from Gatwick Airport, south of London, and finished in Sydney, Australia on January 3. Of the 72 starters, more than three-quarters flew American Pipers, Beechcraft and Cessnas.

The over-all winner was W.J. Bright and F.L. Buxton, in a Britten-Norman Islander. Second was J.A. Masling in a Cessna 310, and third were B.C. Holland and H.J. Shaw in a Piper Twin Comanche.



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