By Naomi Hatch
The 2012 Unlimited Scale Racing Association (USRA) World Champion in the unlimited class is David Smith of Taylor, and the website gives his world record speed at 1:14.131 (74.131).
The USRA was created in 1991 and is patterned after the Reno National Air Races. The association’s website, www.usrainfo.org, notes that it was created “as a way to bring the excitement, sound, color and history of air racing up close to the public and the world of radio control enthusiasts.”
These planes hit speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, making giant scale air racing one of the fastest sports in the world.
“The race track is a two-pylon course, with one pylon to the left of the pilot and one to the right of the pilot. The race is six complete laps around both pylons. Each pilot is given a color before the start of the race, which corresponds to a colored light which is mounted on the pylons. These lights are activated by ‘turn callers’ who push a button (lighting their light) once the airplane passes the pylon. The start is signified by a clock on the flight line, which counts down from 60 seconds once all airplanes are in the air. A horn sounds at the end of that time which signifies race start,” according to the website.
Smith has been flying for more than 35 years and racing since the early 1990s. He flys for Team Extra, a team that has been world champion six times. Smith has won world championship three times, in 1997, 2004 and 2012.
He flies all over the United States, having flown in Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, California and in four races in Arizona.
Smith set a new world record in June when he flew in Kansas, and broke that record at the World Championship race in California in October. His speed was 230 mph, but his wife, Monica, said that when they were practicing, a radar gun clocked his speed at 251 mph.
His plane, No. 99, weighs 32 lbs and has a 10’ wing span with a 20cc motor, which is equivalent to that of a chain saw. Pilots have approximately $10,000 in each plane and sometimes the planes only last for one event. The up side of that is that they have sponsors.
Smith and his Team Extra build their own airplanes.
“It’s quick, fast, exciting,” said Monica.
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By Naomi Hatch