In the mid ‘90’s, David Rose and the boys down at the “Squirrel Works” in San Diego designed and built a Biplane Class air racer. When they took this unique design up to the Reno National Championship Air Races they won the ‘Gold’ race with it right out of the box. They entered it the following year and won the ‘Gold’ again. At this time, they were told that the little racer didn’t look enough like a ‘Classic Biplane’ to be allowed to continue to race as a biplane. Biplane Class rules were then re-written addressing the issue and laying out design parameters for a “Classic Biplane’.
Undaunted, the ‘Squirrel Works’ guys set about designing and building a new biplane racer which would conform to the new parameters of a ‘Classic Biplane’. They entered and won the ‘Gold’ race again and then once more.
But Mr. Rose had been a little miffed at having to build a new racer just for its looks. He decided the way to go was with an “Unlimited” racer. No Rules. For a hundred years the only rule in Unlimited racing was that the birds had to have a reciprocating engine and a propeller. A unique design would be welcome there. After all, unique designs had populated the ranks of air racing throughout the ‘20’s and ‘30’s. Warbirds of all kinds raced in the 40’s and 50’s. Even an occasional four-engined DC-7 or Connie was seen racing over the years. Unique scratch-built racers had been entered in every decade of Unlimited air racing. “If it’s got a prop and an engine, bring it”. That was the attitude that pervaded the Unlimiteds. “That’s for me” decided David Rose.
The design went quickly and soon the “Squirrel Works” was a-buzz with the sound of mills, drills and welders. A steel truss of large diameter tubing was built, skins were formed and a 1200hp V-8 engine was developed to drive an unducted fan at the rear. 8 months later they were in taxi tests! The boys took it up to Reno to show the Organizers and Unlimited Class Officers what they had wrought. It was a beautiful little airplane. Clean as it could be. 1800 pounds empty. 2700 pounds ready to race. 26 feet long with a 17 foot wingspan. If it was going to be as fast as it looked, it was going to be a winner.
They then returned to San Diego to make the final preparations for the bird’s first flight. The boys were excited.
The bad news arrived by phone. Henceforth, Unlimited racers competing at the Reno National Championship Air Races must have a minimum empty weight of 4500 pounds. A rule? Incredulous! “Can’t be true” cried the crew. But it is. No more the unique little birds of the ‘30’s. No more the fabulous Pond Racer or Tsunami. David wrote an eloquent letter to all concerned... to no avail. ‘Safety’ they say. Little racers. Big racers. Fast. Slow. "A bad mix," they said.
So what are the Squirrel Works boys to do with this beautiful little racer? All will be revealed in the next issue of BARNSTORMERS.COM eFLYER.
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