Unlimited Air Racing Dead?

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TFF

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My interests for each class have different hooks. Love for Unlimited is from being a kid. I had the love of WW2 planes and classic air racing. Cleveland before and after WW2. That will never change. Biplane and F1 for my adult self. I could put one of those together if it was a bottom feeder and have some fun being in the club. Everything else is a variety of unlimited when it comes to speed crossed with money, just scaled. Reno is special because of altitude. When they ran east of the Mississippi racing was at 300 ft MSL. There was not going to be any close to 500 mile an hour runs at that altitude.
 

mcrae0104

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It [R-2800] worked pretty well for Czech Mate, which would’ve walked away with this year’s race.
Yep, but in 2016 Steve Hinton had to throttle back in Voodoo to keep the race close with Czech Mate.
Has there been a five-year time warp that I missed, or is there some other (perhaps less than explicit) point you wished to make? Voodoo is currently on museum display, hence the thread topic.

Lots of racers of bygone years could've (and did) beat Czech Mate. My post #100 above was intended to demonstrate that even a 'mere' R2800-powered contender could put the current competition to shame--ergo the thread title, Unlimited Air Racing Dead? I was fortunate enough to discuss the topic with Mr. Smoot, former Czech Mate pilot, at both Reno PRS and Oshkosh this year, and he will not be flying CM again (nor will anyone else, by all indications).

And by the way, as the OP, discussion of other classes is welcome--anything to keep air racing discussion alive!
 
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Riggerrob

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"
... F1 probably has the best overall rules. ....
"

Which is why the new electric racing class is based upon Formula 1 Rules. The first generation of electric racers are F1 stock from the firewall aft. All the innovations are bolted onto the front of the firewall.
Since there are plenty of F1 airframes laying idle, it is easy to enter the field by focusing on firewall-forward innovations.
It will take two or three generations before E-Racers are custom designed to take advantage of unique characteristics of electric motors.
 

Riggerrob

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Dear TFF,
The last year of Red Bull Air Races, organizers issued a stock engine to each competitor. That limited advantages to minor airframe differences and pilot skill.
Another way to handle that would be for an engine manufacturing sponsor to issue each competitor with a new stock engine the week before the races. That gives racing crews barely enough time to bolt it on and do a few test flights ... far too little time of major internal modifications. Competitors would still have the option of refining their airframe - during the off-season - but they would be wise to develop around stock engines. Come race day they would have no horsepower advantage.
 

Tiger Tim

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Another way to handle that would be for an engine manufacturing sponsor to issue each competitor with a new stock engine the week before the races.
...or you pick an engine and a value for that engine then with some provisions make it possible for any team to forcibly buy the winner’s engine. Seems a bit much, though.
 

TFF

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I don’t mind hotrod engines. But I would put caps on some parts. Like factory cylinder heads and flat tappet cams. Of course better parts can be made. That is not the point. There has to be a limiting factor where most can play. Only 100 LL fuel too. Yes it’s cool to have a complete billet engine, but only 2 out of 100 will be able to afford to buy them. An old Red Bull engine would probably be about perfect mix of hot rod and stock. No monolithic cylinder banks, billet heads with better ports and cooling. Penalty for an engine not making it through the week. I’m good for any timing or fuel injection and intake.
 

Jeffd

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This is likely OT:
Once again, I did not make it to Reno this year, but on the plus side I could watch the races on line and then go to the airport, fly my plane and hunt for more micro knots.
I am hearing that insurance rates for pylon racing are getting to be quite expensive, even for the Sport Class folks ( cost zero $ to add a race rider to the Radial Rocket policy when I raced in 2011).
Wonder if it would be more economical to have ”time trial” events, somewhat like Bonneville for cars. Could do it with less acreage for the course, so maybe could do more events per year Around the country.
Might attract a bigger crowd of participants? I am pretty sure I don’t know what I don’t know about this.
Didn’t someone host something like this years ago? Maybe Shirl Dicky?

Jeff
 

Rik-

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Plane racing is like boat racing. Loose site of the race and loose site of the fans.

I drove up for Sunday's races and while it was mildly interesting, it was mildly boring at the same time. The best racing was the loudest racing and that was the old T6 Planes, not the fastest but the best excitement as one could hear them coming and going! Certainly made for the least boring racing due to the noise alone.

Too many here have said "affordable" and racing in the same sentence. There's no such thing so there's no need to even entertain the thought as there's always someone with more $ that can turn an inexpensive idea into an expensive reality. Accept it and embrace it so it will feel better when it hurts.
 

Voidhawk9

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I'm not much of a fan of classes with fixed airframes and/or engines. A good part of the interest, to me, is the evolution of the technology, which may trickle down to airplanes I might fly someday.
With that said, some aspects might be limited without affecting development too much, such as by restricting boost pressures, displacement, spray bar cooling, stall speeds... but just capping the tech entirely at a certain point seems a bit too Amish for my liking.
 

Kiwi303

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Time trials sounds interesting... Aerial drag races, given the popularity of ground based drag beasts on the 1/4 mile stateside it should be popular in the air.

I suggest 3 sets of pylons, two pairs at the start, one at the finish line, all with laser/radar speed trap sensors that capture the speed as the planes pass between the pylons.
The first pairs of pylons are a constant speed zone, planes must be doing 195-205 knt on entry between the first pair of pylons, and maintaining the same speed for the 1/2 mile start zone. This is the "christmas tree" zone, just like a ground racer has to know JUST when to drop the clutch and not get out the gate before the green, yet not so slow that the opposition is away ahead... The pilot needs the skill to hold a set speed for a set distance, and know JUST when to bury the throttle forward to pass the second set of pylons without speeding beyond the upper limit speed and getting a DQ, yet not to waste time/distance past the second pylons that could be taken up with accelerating.
Greatest acceleration and delta V increase between 2nd pylon pair and third (finish line) pylon pair wins the drag race.

How that sound as a concept?

Concept trademarked! if you fellas run it send me my licencing fee or I send you my lawyers! :D lol

Call it Drag Air, Not to be confused with RuPauls Airline...
 

TFF

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The problem with technology is you can have anything if you have enough money today. Last of inventor auto racers was mid 70s. Anything after it’s only about luckiest of the richest. I love the glory years of just about any racing. Auto racing of 30s, 50s, and 60s. Air racing of 30s, 40s, and 50s. There was struggles against technology then.

Today if you want it different, you let it chew in a computer for a while and pop it out of the mold. Best programmer wins as long as their is money to make it. Race to technology is just as lame because you can pick who will win by the transporters that show up.

The only reason you don’t see it in Sport is because the unlimited is where the cool kids want to be. Do you think anyone would survive today if the owner of Chechmate threw his hat into the Sport Class until he won?. It would be a slaughter by money. It would not be overnight but it would be a train that you could not stop. Buddies would be jealous for easy trophies and have to jump in. Anyone flying a million dollar plane in Sport Class yet? Million a year budget? That is why you need parity rules. Unlimited? Our brains are too big for Unlimited anymore.
 

jvliet

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Racing is what makes Reno unique – lose the racing and it evolves into just another large airshow. Why should I travel all the way to Reno when there are already numerous major airshows much nearer me? I fully expect Reno to shut down in a few years, so if you are an air racer, you need to consider alternative race locations immediately. In this regard IF1 is the future of air racing, as they are the only organization outside Reno to have FAA permission to conduct air races. Earning this FAA permission isn't easy! Any other established or new air race class must first set up an organization and then jump through many FAA hoops before beginning to have air races. IF1 is having an air race in San Angelo TX next year (postponed from late October 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

Besides MONEY! the other major factor is finding sites where a pylon air race course can be set up. Basically the faster the raceplanes are, the larger the race course must be. For unlimiteds the smallest course is perhaps 8 miles lap distance, sport class needs at least 6 miles, IF1 uses a 3.2 mile course. For comparison, Formula V (180 Mph) used to use a 2.0 mile course, and ran their races at established airshows where the audience could watch all the racing action around the entire course. Even this small course wouldn't fit at Oshkosh and Sun 'n Fun due to occupied buildings on the back side. There are darn few established sites in the eastern USA that can even accommodate IF1, much less Sport and Unlimiteds.

Formula V air racing had a good concept going, using 1600 cc VW engines with direct drive to a small diameter prop. Engine rules were simple to enforce (stock bore & stroke verified using an inspection tool inserted thru a removed spark plug). There are lots of available VW hot rod parts to increase power via increasing RPM, but the direct-drive rule negated those, as the 48 in. dia. 2-blade prop tips were approaching supersonic at 4000 RPM. Perhaps use a smaller diameter 3 or 4-blade prop?

Formula V had its heyday in the late 1980's- early 1990's with 3 to 4 races each season. It died out due to decline of participants in the late 1990's, followed by the loss of corporate sponsors after 9/11. See FVcolors.pdf (formulav.com)
 

Riggerrob

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What if you set up an oval Formula 1 course, but shift the plane to 45 degrees or even vertical?
That would allow you to fly it along a river or lake in the middle of a large city.
If set your course at a major airport, then the danger zones and over-shoot zones are along the standard IFR approach and departure patterns.
You would need some sort of GPS tacking or recording altimeter to confirm that racers flew to the top of the oval course. A tilted course also proves plenty of new camera angles. What if you hovered a drone camera directly in line with the top leg of the titled course? That would provide another exciting camera angle?
 

speedracer

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What if you set up an oval Formula 1 course, but shift the plane to 45 degrees or even vertical?
That would allow you to fly it along a river or lake in the middle of a large city.
If set your course at a major airport, then the danger zones and over-shoot zones are along the standard IFR approach and departure patterns.
You would need some sort of GPS tacking or recording altimeter to confirm that racers flew to the top of the oval course. A tilted course also proves plenty of new camera angles. What if you hovered a drone camera directly in line with the top leg of the titled course? That would provide another exciting camera angle?
How about a figure 8 course? The fans would love it!
 
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