Cheap air racing class to promote aviation?

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Hot Wings, Aug 26, 2014.

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  1. Aug 26, 2014 #1

    Hot Wings

    Hot Wings

    Hot Wings

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    Note to moderators - If this is a duplicate please delete the first.

    Forked off from another thread:

    Cost increases to be competitive seems to be a trend with all racing.

    I'd like this thread to explore options to develop a truly inexpensive form of airplane competition that is not only stimulating for the participants but hopefully for spectators as well. Other forms of racing have developed rules that actually help to keep the costs down so that the average person can be competitive within a defined class. It's been tried in air racing but for some reason(s) it has never really caught on.

    Reference links to existing air racing rules/organizations.
    Air Race Classic
    Formula V Air Racing home page
    Information - Sport Class Air Racing
    Documents | International Formula 1 Air Racing
    http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/airshow/waiver/media/Air_Race_Special_Provisions.pdf

    And an idea to get the discussion started:
    Claiming Rule Could Improve NASCAR and ARCA :
     
  2. Aug 26, 2014 #2

    revkev6

    revkev6

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    speaking strictly about engine rules...

    I have been involved in various forms of motor racing. one of the most effective things I have seen to control costs was a 100% stock engine class. no internal modifications allowed. stock RPM range, etc. pick an engine or family of engines with similar specs. police the engines. all engines have specs that can be measured. if you fall outside those easy to check specs.. you disqualify. easiest one to check was cranking pressure. all engines had a "specified" cranking pressure that should be attained. if you measured over that you were done. if you won 3 races, you got your engine torn down to the last nut and handed back to you in a box. if it was legal you got $100 for a gasket set to reassemble. club dues paid the tech inspector and bought any manuals needed. cheapest racing I ever did.

    this may however limit the creativity you want to encourage... creativity will always bring lots of money and be hard to police. some people don't care about claimer motor rules. they have enough money to buy another.
     
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  3. Aug 26, 2014 #3

    Topaz

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    Put the effort into bringing back Formula V to a viable sport, and police the engines somewhat in the manner revkev6 is describing. Maybe not tear down winning engines, but how about the racing league owns the engines? You hand out engines to participants at the start of the season, randomly. Random spot-checks throughout the season for things easily measured without disassembling the engine, and to check serial numbers. At the end of the season, the engines are turned back in and torn down for overhaul by the league. If the engine has been modified, any wins by that team during the season are nullified.

    An aero engine isn't going to get any cheaper than a VW, so I personally think that's a good place to start.

    The big problem with a racing league these days is going to be finding venues and insurance. After the Reno crash, both are going to be very hard to find.
     
  4. Aug 26, 2014 #4

    bmcj

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    With the username Cheapracer, this is the perfect topic for him to chime in on. ;)
     
  5. Aug 26, 2014 #5

    autoreply

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    Limiting it to one engine makes sense, but I'm not sure it does in aircraft. Look at Formula 1. With 1 race a year in Reno, one in France and now (first timer), that's a small subpart of all potential participants.

    Why not limit power? Say 100 hp. That includes all VW's, all F1 racers, several of the auto-conversions and the hot-rodded VW's as well. Hard to verify maybe, so why not limit fuel?

    Make it mandatory to carry 10 gallons, but you can only use 5 during the race. For every percent of excess fuel usage, you get 1% less speed. (Just throwing out some numbers, obviously have to be corrected for race distance). Simple to check and with weighing very hard to cheat.



    I also think the non-Airventure cup is a great idea. Something that ought to work on this side of the pond as well...
     
  6. Aug 26, 2014 #6

    rv6ejguy

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  7. Aug 26, 2014 #7

    Hot Wings

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    This kind of presumes an organized race. I recently read More with Less about MacCready and the early days of the ultralight movement in your part of the world. The Otto Lilenthal meet that the book credited with being the start of the sport was not so much organized by Jack Lambie but was more of a spontaneous gathering of like minded people. With no organizers or leaders that could be identified there was no easy one on which to lay blame.

    No one needs insurance if a half dozen "racers" show up and have a day of 'test flying". Sure there would still need to be fully sanctioned and regulated races so that there could be official records made.......... but a lot of the fun could be had without.

    VW engines are starting to get expensive, compared to the old days, and finding a reliable source of factory stock engines of one specification might also be a problem. How about moving down the food chain one more step and nominating something like the 1L Generac/Subaru Robin as the base engine? In a clean airframe 130+ mph should be easy.
     
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  8. Aug 26, 2014 #8

    rv6ejguy

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    Having been involved in car and aircraft racing for a long time- tear downs or the sanctioning body supplying engines for aircraft isn't going to work due to airworthiness issues in most countries.

    Real racing should reward those with the best technical skills, innovation, preparedness and driving/ flying skills otherwise it's boring IMO. If you want a spec class, have someone provide 10 identical airframes and engines and choose lots, but this is just about flying skills then. This won't be cheap though. People want to fly their own aircraft I think.

    The F1 rules have been around and stable for a long time. This is pretty cheap to get into relatively speaking and you can test your skills against some of the best in the world if that's what you want. Using the same rules, you could set up an F1 race league in your own local area and do cross country stuff like SARL where you don't need the course or the ground infrastructure like Reno.

    Fuel limits could work but this turns things into an economy race to some degree although at the same time shows overall cleverness in design and flying skill. This does have the advantage of being relatively easy to police (outside of hidden tanks). With a set airframe spec- wing area and weight, this allows a lot of innovation with layout and engine so it's interesting to designers and builders I think.

    Limiting power is really hard to do or police without a ton of time and money.

    I've never agreed with penalizing the people winning. This is racing, not a family picnic. The winners are smarter or better so the slower people need to up their game to catch up, otherwise suck it up or go home.
     
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  9. Aug 26, 2014 #9

    Hot Wings

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    For me there is zero interest in "run what you brung" or other forms of bracket racing. Others obviously disagree. Ultimately the only person we really have to compete against is ourselves but there is a certain thrill in being able to compete directly with another human with the same set of rules.
     
  10. Aug 26, 2014 #10

    rv6ejguy

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    SARL has pretty good turnouts so some people must like it. Trouble with a set class is that the aircraft is only very useful for racing. That means you need 2 airplanes so right away this becomes more expensive. Race cars and race airplanes built to the limit of the rules generally make very poor, every day vehicles.

    I agree myself, I like to have the rules stable, design, innovate and test myself against others. The problem is getting a rule set agreed on that pulls a good number of other people in so you have some numbers to race against. I think you need it dead simple- Wing area, weight and maybe a fuel allotment- everything else is open.
     
  11. Aug 26, 2014 #11

    Topaz

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    I completely agree in principle - I come from a racing family and have track time on Laguna Seca, Willow Springs, and even the old Riverside Raceway. But the problem with the philosophy you're espousing here is that it always - always - leads to pricing the "little guy" out of the class, regardless of his technical merits or driving/piloting skill. People with money (eventually, sponsorship and, farther down the road, both) buy their technical expertise and technology, and the class very quickly moves away from its "inexpensive" roots. Racing in the class eventually comes down to who can bring the most money to the task, and actual "racing" fades into the background.

    While I would certainly argue that we do need several more venues for Reno-style unlimited racing, or even the high-end Forumula 1, we also need to have some kind of class(es) for the new entrant to the field, and the guy tinkering in his own garage. Class(es) where that guy can actually be competitive without having to give up his day job and set up an organization that spends most of its time thumping for sponsors.

    Yes, such a class is going to have some very artificial restrictions. It won't be "pure" racing in that regard, no, where the advances in the airplane are as much a factor as the skill of the pilot. But, ultimately, all racing is about the skill of the pilot/driver. There's room for the "pure" unlimited racing, and there's room for limited classes "for the rest of us."

    I think the way to think of this is as follows: There will always be room for the aviation equivalent to GTP or Forumula 1. What I think Hot Wings is talking about isn't even Formula Ford. He's talking about Kart racing - which happens to be one of the most vibrant, wide-spread, and growing aspects of ground-based motorsport today. We could use something like that in aviation.
     
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  12. Aug 26, 2014 #12

    Hot Wings

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    100% agree. It's just that a lot of times the smart guy isn't the one with the money. Racing, at least the subset I'd like to see developed here, shouldn't be about who has the money to pull out the last 0.05% from a design, but the guy that comes up with a better fundamental way of approaching the problem.

    Even with a stock engine class some can afford to buy a few dozen engines for stock parts and choose the best of the lot. How do you get around this? Putting serial numbers on all of the parts and issuing approved engines introduces a certain amount of luck into the racing - and limits innovation.
     
  13. Aug 26, 2014 #13

    autoreply

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    Because those kind of racer airframes would be of limited use for other types of flying. If on the other hand, people with "leisure" aircraft, like one of the European MLA's (180 mph @ 100 hp) can be more or less competitive, you have a lot more potential participants.
     
  14. Aug 26, 2014 #14

    Topaz

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    Those were different days. I've read the book. Jack Lambie used to be a member of my soaring club. As an example of how those days were different, take the example of Jack from the book: Flying his RF-4 on the deck through Edwards AFB airspace twice a week, because going straight through was a short-cut from Elsinore to where the Gossamer Condor was being assembled. Think he'd get away with that today?

    Without some kind of organization, all you'll ever have is a local flying meet. One venue. And "with no organizers or leaders", the liability for any accident is going to fall down to the land-owner. You think they're going to go along with that? In the 70's at such events, guys would just go over the side of the hill to relieve themselves. With today's public-event health regulations, someone is going to need to rent Porta-Potties, etc., to a formula that factors in the number of attendees.

    For this to have any "promote aviation" effect, you're going to need an organization, multiple venues, and deep PR with the newsmedia. And all of that means insurance. There's no getting away from it in this day and age. If you just want to do one local event in the vein of the old Lilenthal "meet", then go for it. Anything larger than that - or any future editions - is going to require at least liability insurance with a named-insured rider for the land owner.
     
  15. Aug 26, 2014 #15

    Topaz

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    Racing will always be a point-design endeavor, if you're going to be competitive. The requirements for a racing plane are very different than a sport plane. I can't see much overlap happening between them at all, and those pilots who opt for some overlap aren't going to be competitive with those who don't.
     
  16. Aug 26, 2014 #16

    Brian Clayton

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    I agree. I have raced for a living for the better part of the last 20 years. I feel sorry for the "low/no budget guys", but like Ross said "This is racing, not a family picnic". You can compete in any class cheap, but being the fastest is going to cost you. I dont care what "rules" someone puts on a class, its the parts that are not regulated by rules that are exploited by the teams. In claimer style racing, sure the engines are cheap, but then you see extravagant budgets on the chassis itself. Let me give you a example. Some of our classes try to create parity by limiting the inlet size on a turbo. So the low budget guys restrict their 2500.00 turbo and race. The big budget guys spend 50,000 having various custom units built and trying them all. The only thing that has kept the super high budget teams out is the prohibition of corporate logos on the outside of the vehicles. But, even recently, a big name has stepped in a reset one of the records by a fair amount. It would be difficult in air racing to find a "low cost" parity, without allowing budgets and technology dictating a even playing field (like now). In my opinion, the only way you could achieve it would be 4 rules. You run "x" airframe only, "x" sealed engine only, "x" brand/length/pitch prop only, and you weight "x" amount ready to race. And then you have high skilled pilots beating the crap out of novice pilots (like most races end up anyway at the end of the day). Personally, I have zero interest in a class like that. To me, it would be boring. I want to see the big money battle it out with the lower teams. I want to see innovation and skill (building and flying) showcased. Hard work and skill (including budgets) should be rewarded, not punished.
     
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  17. Aug 26, 2014 #17

    Hot Wings

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    Was expecting this observation. Set up the rules so that the planes are useful for more relaxed recreational activities. Some like minimum wing area or stall speed are naturally going to limit the performance compared to a pure race plane but in the long run they are going to keep the class viable because the planes can also be comfortably used for more normal flying.
     
  18. Aug 26, 2014 #18

    Hot Wings

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    All true, but this doesn't preclude the unorganized local competitions - much like the "outlaw" automobile and motorcycle street racing. I'm not advocating such an unorganized activity (just using the street racing analogy to illustrate the idea) but if self policed by the locals using the organizations guidelines to assure safety not all competition needs to be under the umbrella of the parent organization.

    Just using the street racing analogy to illustrate the idea
     
  19. Aug 26, 2014 #19

    Topaz

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    If that's the case, may I suggest an alternative to an actual racing event? Automotive rallies (the old 1960's kind, not what World Rally Championship has turned into today) are a heck of a lot of fun, and you don't need any specialized equipment. They can be "themed" as a poker rally, or as a "scavenger hunt", etc. Even the guy with the C-150 could participate in an aviation version. It would promote piloting and navigation skills over pure speed. Heck, include a "bomb drop" (bag of white flour) on one leg, and a point-landing event on another. The scores for those add into the overall tally for each team.

    It might get away from all the regulation needed for a true racing event, and be open to a broader community.
     
  20. Aug 26, 2014 #20

    Brian Clayton

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    And all this time I though the object of racing was just to promote ones own ego. I cant say that I have actually met a racer that does it for the "good of the people".
     
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