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.