Date: Wed 16 Dec 2015

Formula one air racing’s first world champion (Pilot Magazine)

In the long history of Formula One air racing, 2015 will be remembered as the year in which the first truly international series of races took place, Swedish born Thom Richard taking the crown

text by Trevor Jarvis; photos by Jane Jarvis

Pilot UK, Dec 2015 article

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Pilot UK, Dec 2015 article

The Goodyear Trophy held at Cleveland, Ohio in 1947 was the first time ‘midget’ racers, with their 190 cubic inch engines, competed in a professional race series. From 1968 the then-new 200 cubic inch motors were permitted and the series became officially known as the Formula One Class. Only minor changes to the formula have been sanctioned since the introduction of the O-200 engine, and the basic concept of relatively cheap and safe racing still remains. Formula One calls for a minimum wing area of 66 square feet, minimum empty weight of 500lb with no fuel or oil, fixedpitch propeller and fixed main undercarriage with brakes. There are of course numerous other technical and safety constraints set out in the thirty-page International Formula One technical rules pamphlet, all of which are randomly but regularly checked for compliance at pre- and post-race scrutineering.

The Air Race 1 World Cup kicked off at Monastir International Airport, Tunisia with the Gold and Silver race final heats taking place on Sunday 7 June — the first Formula One air race to be held on the African continent. The racers were shipped in containers from as far as Texas and California, the closest being the three British entrants, two from GB Air Racing — Cassutt G-BOMB, flown by Des Hart, and Shoestring F-PYXC, flown by Trevor Jarvis. Both pilots had already raced in Spain the previous year; the newcomer was Terry Gardner with his bright green Cassutt G-BFMF Kermit. Winner of the Gold race was Thom Richard, originally from Sweden, flying his newly acquired and futuristic looking Reberry racer Hot Stuff.

The Brits didn’t enjoy much glory in Tunisia; Des Hart and his crew just about fighting off the gremlins to take third place in the Silver race and Trevor Jarvis suffering major engine problems that would prevent him racing in the remainder of the series. Terry Gardner’s Cassutt was flown to good effect by Justin Phillipson from California, who took a very creditable second place in the Silver race. Immediately after the Tunisian race, the aircraft were stripped down for transporting to Catalonia in Spain, ready for the next event in the series on Sunday 28 June at Lleida International Airport. The French racers who had participated in the showcase race there in 2014 joined us for this event, including last year’s winner Christian Guilie with his self designed, built and raced Arletty II. Despite a good fight in the Gold race by Christian, trying to replicate his win of the previous year, he was beaten to the home pylon by Thom Richard in Hot Stuff. Des Hart managed second place in the Silver race with G-BOMB, whilst Stan Damiron from France flew Terry Gardner’s Cassutt Kermit to a Silver third. The final race in the Air Race 1 World Cup series was held in Reno, Nevada on Sunday 20 September in conjunction with the National Championship Air Races.

(please read the rest of the article in the 2015 December edition of Pilot Magazine, UK or by clicking on the PDF file to your right)