Unlimited Air Racing Dead?

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TarDevil

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Raw speed will not get audiences. Getting close to the action is what gets the audience.
I dunno, you might be right. I know I wouldn't travel to Reno for a 100 hp race class, but I would for a half dozen little planes going 450 mph.
Now... with a smaller, slower class of racing it would be easier to find multiple venues and bring the races closer to folks like me, and I'd easily go a short distance for such a program. Reno, though, and the unlimiteds would still die.
Are we resolved that the death of unlimiteds is inevitable (topic, remember?). Can Reno thrive on Sport class?
 

TFF

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The problem with any engine is 80% of the field just want to buy and not mess with it. Go to a reputable engine shop, spend the money and take it home. 20% will pay big for .000025% better than the next guy. Calling for a crate engine and gearbox only speaks to that 20%. Not unless it can be bought off the shelf any Thursday. 80% doesn’t want to mess with it.

Personally the 720 would not be the way to go, although every time i see a picture of the Pitts clone with the 720 I giggle and want it. Replace it with turbo 540s and the regular 540s are naturally aspirated. Again rules are arbitrary. What you want is a space between classes where this class is 20 kts faster than the next lowest. First year of Trans Am 1966 saw Shelby notch backs win the championship for the big engine class. Alfa Romeo won for the under 2.5L class. Advertising win for Ford. What the foot note does says though is Alfa won more overall races than Ford 2-1. Technically Alfa won both over and under championships if Alfa’s points counted in the over 2.5L class. You don’t want smaller cheaper planes beating the bigger ones so you don’t ever want to mix them. Yes that is what unlimited did, but they did not leave a space for something else. They wanted it all. That is why they are in trouble. If the Pond Racers and Thunder Mustangs had a home just below, it could have been different now.
 

tspear

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I dunno, you might be right. I know I wouldn't travel to Reno for a 100 hp race class, but I would for a half dozen little planes going 450 mph.
Now... with a smaller, slower class of racing it would be easier to find multiple venues and bring the races closer to folks like me, and I'd easily go a short distance for such a program. Reno, though, and the unlimiteds would still die.
Are we resolved that the death of unlimiteds is inevitable (topic, remember?). Can Reno thrive on Sport class?
I think the sun has already set on the warbirds unlimited class. It mostly now is just the death throws. I have never made it to Reno races, the timing just stinks from my perspective. As a parent, I am getting the kids ready for school and associated activities.

If you have never been to a NASCAR race, go. Then go to a drift race, or European style Formula 1 in a city. Drift and F1 are much more exciting, and the cars feel a lot faster, even though in absolute speed they are much slower. Proximity gives an incredible feeling of speed.

Tim
 

Victor Bravo

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The original reason that there was any interest or participation in the big ticket auto races is that long before them there were hundreds and hundreds of small-town dirt track races and drag strips and what-not to generate interest in the sport of auto racing.

I am fairly sure all of the top car racers (teams, drivers, pit crews) start out in something like Karts, Formula Fords, Formula Vee's, and dirt tracks. Indy and LeMans and Dubai and all of that stuff is built on a foundation of small-scale, intimate venue races.

I believe we need the equivalent of those small-town track races for airplanes.

We need Kart racing with wings, and find a way to make it as safe as reasonably possible within the reality of airplane racing. 75 sq ft wing area little Facet Opal wings with 50-60HP V-twins, or Spacek SD-1 sized airplanes. "Claiming races" where the loser can buy the winner's engine or entire airplane for X dollars after the race.

Even if it's 100MPH around a one mile course, it's still thrilling because the crowd line/dead line can be a lot closer. Same principle as the dirt tracks.
 

rv6ejguy

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As I've alluded to before, there is a non-warbird Unlimited being prepped for Reno 2022 by one of the top Sport Class racers. I truly hope this will lead to more and Unlimited won't die.

Let's stay on topic here- Unlimiteds, which are the main spectator draw at Reno. Speed, Doppler shift, fury and big hp noise is the draw.

60hp, 150mph stuff will never replace Unlimiteds and never be a big draw at Reno IMO.
 
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Victor Bravo

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A low-drag composite fairing around a homebuilt steel tube fuselage, landing gear from some commercial aircraft, a laminar hi-aspect homebuilt composite wing, and a commercially available R-2800 from a DC-6 on the nose. 4000 pounds, no warbird parts, no warbird history, no warbirds cut up or otherwise taken out of a museum..
 

tspear

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The race is not very long, with high min weight, I wonder what the feasibility of electric would be. You could make the plane super low drag, and go multi engine for shorter props to reduce prop speed drag. Or even a range extender model might be able to do it.
Would be interesting math to balance out....

Tim
 

don january

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We would hate to see any of it die. Lets just expand on it and make it the best race on earth
 

BoKu

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Let's stay on topic here- Unlimiteds, which are the main spectator draw at Reno. Speed, Doppler shift, fury and big hp noise is the draw.
I'm not entirely convinced that the Unlimiteds are still the "main spectator draw at Reno." It could be so, but I'd want to see some numbers on that.

What I am convinced of is that RARA and the Reno tourism boards could have done a much better job of promoting the event. I would have liked to have seen much more publicity in Sacramento and the SF bay area. And I think every pilot in the US should have gotten a postcard or flyer in the mail.

But I am pretty sure that the "Unlimiteds," at least in the decidedly un-unlimited form that the current minimum weight rules dictate, are dead, have shuffled off their mortal coil, and are not just resting. Just looking at this year's results, the top four finishers in Sport Gold would have finished in places 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Unlimited Gold if they could stay together for the 34% longer race. And I respectfully submit that when only one guy in your class is actually pushing it, your class is not viable.

I think we need a new un-un-unlimited class that allows lighter machines before we see any kind of resurgence there. With Sport machines weighing under 2400 lbs going 400 mph as we saw in this year's Sport Gold, I think that there's a lot of potential for 3200 lb machines getting up around 500 mph. And I have no doubt that guys like Ross can make that happen.
 

karmarepair

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I'm not entirely convinced that the Unlimiteds are still the "main spectator draw at Reno." It could be so, but I'd want to see some numbers on that.
RARA and the Reno tourist board could easily do this with a well designed survey of attendees. Get a little demographic data while you're at it. If I can do it for my quilt show with NO money, they can do it.
I would have liked to have seen much more publicity in Sacramento and the SF bay area.
Amen. It's is incredibly easy and cheap to buy some eyeballs in a very directed way with Facebook.
And I think every pilot in the US should have gotten a postcard or flyer in the mail.
I say again, Amen. Although mailing can get a little expensive, and to get the bulk rates you've got to jump through a lot of hoops, certainly a mailing to every pilot within 2 hours of flying time or one airline trip from Reno is worth a try. Say, a quadrilateral with Seattle, Chicago, Houston and San Diego as the pylons.
 

mcrae0104

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I've mentally debated this numerous times. The R-2800 is one of the best engines every made and can be pushed quite hard. But the in-lines just have such better aerodynamics.
It worked pretty well for Czech Mate, which would’ve walked away with this year’s race.
 
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