Europe Welcomes Formula One Air Racing
Formula One air racing debuted in Europe last weekend as an international mix of 14 pilots topped off three days of airshow events and air racing with Sunday’s Gold and Silver Class F1 finals in Lleida, Spain. French pilot Christian Guille took first place in the Gold Class, a short distance ahead of U.S. pilot Jay Jones. The winning speed was 238 MPH. The Silver Class final was won by Des Hart of the UK at 182 MPH. Pilots from the U.S., UK, France and Sweden competed in Formula One monoplanes that are a regular sight at the U.S. National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, but had not previously been in a sanctioned race in Europe.
Formula One air racing is “wingtip-to-wingtip,” with the airplanes in each class racing each other around a three-mile course at altitudes as low as 50 feet AGL. Beginning in the U.S. nearly 70 years ago, the class was designed to allow for fast airplanes to be built at a minimum cost. The airplanes are powered by a 100-HP Continental O-200 engine and must have a minimum wing area of 66 square feet and minimum empty weight of 500 pounds. Speeds can reach as high as 250 MPH. Results of the races in Lleida were ratified by the recognized Formula One air racing associations of the United States, France and the UK. Respectively, they are the International Formula One Association (IF1), the Association des Pilotes d’Avions de Formules (APAF) and the Formula Air Racing Association (FARA).