Hangin’ It Out There


Strolling through the Formula 1 hangar at the Reno Air Races, we came upon Steve Temple’s Heat Stroke with its cowling off, and thought “wow…what an RV builder wouldn’t give for that much room between the back of the engine and the firewall!” Yes, that is a Continental O-200 hanging way out there on that spindly motor mount—not some sort of lightweight turbine conversion.

Cassutts are like that – you need to get the engine way out there for CG purposes, and that makes for a long nose, with a long engine mount. The diminutive size of the engine shouldn’t fool anyone though – Formula 1 builders are pretty good at getting WAY more than stock horsepower out of these little Cessna 150 motors. It helps, of course, if you turn them a tad faster than stock – like well up in the high 3,000 rpms.

The Formula 1 hangar is a cool place to wander in general, for the airplanes there are generally more unusual than, say, what you find in the Sport pit. Formula 1 airplanes are pretty much built for one thing – competitive pylon racing, whereas most of the Sport airplanes double as their owners’ “daily drivers” 51 weeks out of the year. So the little formulas are eccentric statements about speed and turning left – an aerodynamicist’s dream… or nightmare, depending on which side of the risk curve might find yourself.

And as of initial qualifying results on Tuesday night, more than half of the 20 airplanes in the field turned in laps of over 200 mph – not bad when you remember your student cross-countries in those old C-150s.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


  1. Paul, Thank you for covering our IF1 class. These little airplanes are so fascinating to build, work on and fly. I can’t wait to get our new IF1 racer to Reno!! I will be in good company as we have quite a few new racers on the horizon in the IF1 class.


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