NMPRA Electric Formula One Racing is Here!
All speed addicts and potential pylon racers,
I started this thread to spread the news about a new class of pylon racing that NMPRA is developing. For those that may not know, NMPRA is the SIG group that is responsible for Quarter 40 and Q500 pylon racing in the USA. The new NMPRA #427 class is based on scale formula 1 racers that utilize electric power. I wanted to get the word out and show some pictures of what’s happened so far. I’m pretty busy but hope others involved in this venture including Danny Kane and Travis Flynn will step in and share their experiences and photos in this thread.
The Idea – An Inexpensive Electric Formula 1 Class
Sometime last year the National Miniature Pylon Racing’s President Scott MacAfee started discussions with a few members about creating a new class for electric pylon racing in the USA. As we know, gas pylon racing can be a rarified sport like the current F5D class for international electric pylon racing competition. Because of a lack of flying fields for these speed demons and the difficulty of getting new racers into the fold, it was felt that something needed to be done. With the obvious success of the ad hoc club .40 and .25 racing at local and regional venues, and the burgeoning group of electric speed addicts like those on the High Performance Ezone thread, it was felt the time was right to add an electric scale racing class that was inexpensive with readily available ARF’s and electric power systems that would appeal to racers at the local and grass roots level. The planes would be designed so they can be sport flown or raced at most of the local club fields on any Sunday afternoon, just like the old Formula One class started out in the 60’s. Deja Vu! In summary, the purpose of this newly defined “Electric Formula One” class would be to help bring new pilots into pylon racing and help grow the sport.
Initially Scott and Jerry Small a prolific Q40 airplane designer started the ad hoc discussions. Soon, George Parks and I along with others were drawn into the discussion with Jerry because of our current experiences with Q40 and F5D.
The Airplane Design
One of the main weaknesses of Quarter 40 scale pylon racing is the fact that there is up to a year wait to acquire a racer from a select few builders that supply the sport. The airplanes utilize molded composite construction which is above the ability and commitment of the average builder. The goal NMPRA set was to work with the manufacturers to make readily available ARF’s and all the equipment needed to compete available at the local hobby shop. This required a ground up approach to the airplane design that could be easily reproducible by the ARF manufacturers.
The airplane design was targeted at the 110 -120 mph range. The planes are based on scale Formula 1 racers with 375 sq. inches of wing area. This is a sweet spot on airplane size and power requirements. The airplanes are large enough to appeal to most while the power requirement for the speed range targeted is extremely modest and inexpensive. They are very scale looking, have a landing gear, and are well behaved and easy to take off or land. The airfoils used are similar to the current Q40 planes that have good stall characteristics needed for stable pylon turning ability. Most sport ARF’s have airfoils that are designed for aerobatics and easily perform such maneuvers as fast snap rolls, not a good thing in pylon racing.
As it turned out, the planes are a lot of fun to sport fly and are capable of 1000 foot loops. They are capable of faster speeds with a simple motor and battery upgrade, but the initial class is specifically designed to be very easy to fly and not require super human flying skills. Speed and structural limits have not been tested yet, but the prototypes are fairly sturdy and could easily surpass the 135-140 mph range with moderate power adjustments. I certainly can see an advanced class with a simple motor and battery swap.
The Motors and Props
Inexpensive out runners are readily available at most hobby shops and have the torque and power requirements to turn the larger props such as an APC 8x6 which is a perfect fit for the speed range targeted. There is a possibility that the motor may become a spec. item, but the motor rules are really in flux at this point. What’s easily enforceable for National Level Racing may be different than for local club racing and this certainly could be a factor in the motor rules.
The first motors used were the Turnigy 35/42, (35mm dia. X 42 mm length) 1250KV out runner motors. However, Eflite has been working with the group and has developed a prototype out runner that is a 35/50, ~ 1200kv motor for testing. I believe this motor is a little low on the KV for us because it required an 8/8 APC prop and is not up to speed yet. George Parks has just started testing a Steve Neu inn runner as well.
We are currently using inexpensive 4 cell Turnigy 2650 20 and 30C lipos. That combination is right at the Lipos weight limit in the rules. Certainly other battery / KV combinations are useable, although 3 cells is probably less desirable because of the increased controller amperage requirements. I am using a Castle 100 lite controller which may be a little overkill, but others are using inexpensive ESC’s that work fine. The batteries just get warm with this combination, and one pack can be used all day.
There are about 12 airplanes that have been built and flown by a number of die hard racers. There are about 9 more designs others are working on that are in various stages. Jerry Small in Grapevine, Texas is a prolific airplane designer for Quarter 40, and has produced a stable of winning airplanes for that event throughout the years. Scott and Jerry are really the fathers of Electric F1 because they have graciously dedicated a majority of their time making this happen. Jerry has been working almost full time designing, prototyping, test flying and working with Horizon and others about jump starting this event. He is very serious about seeing this class become a reality.
The following electric F1’s are currently flying:
Pete Bergstrum (Horizon Hobby) - LR1A, New Horizon Prototype
Scott MacAfee (NMPRA president - LR1A
Jerry Small - LR1A, De Knight Special, Miss Outrageous
George Parks - LR1A, Lil Toni
John Jennings - Lil Toni
Archie Adamisin - LR1A
Travis Flynn - Lil Toni
Jim Allen - Midget Mustang
The following electric F1’s are under construction:
Jerry Small - Miss Outrageous
Dan Kane - Miss San Bernardino
Arch Adamisin - Thunder Chicken, Proud Bird
Archie Adamisin - Sweet Pea, Rivets, Endeavor
Mark Scarborough - Thunder Chicken
Kevin Matney - Miss Lynn
The Public Debut
Jerry along with a host of others have one of these airplanes or has flown one of the prototypes. You may recognize some of these names as they are pillars of the pylon scene in the USA and some including Danny Kan and Travis Flynn who have been on the F5D electric scene on the TEAM USA for years.
Jerry, Pete and Archie took their prototypes to the 2009 - Q40 NMPRA (AMA) Nationals at Muncie and the response was unanimous: everyone loves them. Even some of the diehard gas racers that only live for 200+ mph love them. The list of hard core gas racers that flew them included some of the most well known names in the pylon world. They included Fred Burghoff (Owner-APC), Jim Allen, Archie Adamisin, Mike Helsel, Dub Jett(Jett Motors-Owner), Pete Bergstrum (Horizon), Jerry Small and Gary Freeman Jr. The response was incredible. Jerry thought that most of the hard core racers would laugh at the concept or planes, but the only question was immediately, “Where can I get one of these, I want one now! They are fun to fly!”
Pylon Party at Hearne
Last week at our local test session by the pylon gang in Texas at the Hearne municipal airport, (formerly an Air Force auxiliary field) we had 3 of these planes at the session that was mixed with Q40's, Q500’s and my F5D. Dub Jett and Mike Helsel always have radar setup during these sessions because they do a lot of Q40 testing. We actually had a race between George Parks, Mike Helsel and me that was a blast. Unfortunately Mike and I had a mid air after takeoff and his plane hit hard on the concrete runway with amazingly little damage. (I guess we should have staggered the takeoff, but there was too much daring going on.) My Little Toni had its vacuum formed turtle deck knocked off, but kept flying until the end of the race against George. I simply re-taped the turtle deck back on.
NMPRA is working with Horizon and the first airplane an LR1A is slated to be released as an ARF sometime in early Q2-2010. Pete Bergstrum from Horizon has already been test flying the production prototype. I believe the target price is around $140. And feel free to build your own. Bear in mind that the rules are only a first cut, but fairly firmed up and there has not been any official races yet. All of us would like to see an Electric F1 event happen in 2010.
If you have any submissions for new designs that you would like to submit for NMPRA class approval, you can contact Jerry Small at:
as he is serving as the class airplane design approval committee. And as usual, I expect there will be a lot of discussion about Electric Formula One in the forums here on Ezone.
These rules are posted on the NMPRA.ORG site by the Scott McAfee, the NMPRA President. They are posted in the “NMPRA Discussion” forums at: http://www.nmpra.org/ .
Great post John. I flew the Lil Toni that Dan Kane brought to the F5D Team Trials and it is a very nice flying airplane.
Yes, they are really fun to fly. I can see always carrying one with me to race with George and others in between F5D test sessions. They are so stable, but I think capable of some pretty fast speeds if we want to. I also just love the scale looks.
They really do remind me of the first formula 1 racers, even in speeds at the very beginning. The first Forumla 1's were built with the same exact technology, wood and foam but with crappy idling gas engines, not the great electric stuff we have now. But check out Jerry's molded fiberglass work. He just does stuff like that in his sleep.
This really is Deja Vu plus for those of us that were there!
Hi John. Good to hear you & George are alive & well! Randy Smith showed us a copy of these rules some time ago inviting comments for potential incorporation into Canadian Maac Pylon events. Those are really cool looking racers & I appreciate the spirit & motivation behind the event.
I'm curious, now that you mention input from experienced USA F5D folk who are not only hard core Q-racers but also lived through the evolution of F5D racing & experienced the battery wars etc... why no limiter? Seems like its just inviting controversy & rules re-jigging down the road when guys start getting wise to setup options & going a bit faster with latest gen lipos. There is off-the-shelf inexpensive commercial limiter solutions to simultaneously level the playing field at whatever desired watt limit & allow for inevitable ongoing changes in lipos etc. Are the models just not responsive enough to tweaking based on the lower power setup & profile drag? Or is absolute cost minimization the main target? Just wondering.. :)
Great looking airplanes, they look like a real hoot to fly. Jerry makes the cowling, is he selling the kits?
Like Chuck, I saw one of the prototypes at the Team Selection. I think it is a great idea and the timing is right with the availability of cheap speed on electric power. The fact it is a potential fun sport plane will spur more folks to keep one in the hangar and want to fly it. When things get rolling with actual contests I can definitely see how the limiters would be a good fit to keep things fairly level. Simply bump up the watt/min depending on what class or local preference dictates.
The limiter was discussed several times. The rules published to this point are the starting point and are on an evolutionary track. The intention in the initial stages of development is to gather information on power systems before jumping in with both feet. 2010 should provide enough time to finalize the rules.
The airplanes are very stable and definitely can be flown by an experienced sport pilot. Yet not be to slow or soft for the current Q racing group. It may not fit the need for speed for everyone, but it is enjoyable non the less. Let's face it racing in the US is slowly declining for what ever reason. We currently do not have a means for a sport pilot to move into our ranks. The NMPRA recognized this and started the ball rolling. The airplanes are stand-off scale they don't have to be hand launched and they can be flown at almost any field. The plane and power system will be available at your local hobby shop. The theory behind this is that you could buy something on Monday, work on it for a couple of nights and sport fly on Sat and race on Sun. I think we are moving in the right direction.
Over 30 years ago I participated in my first pylon race. It was "SPORT" pylon. This new event brings back some of the good from the past with some of the good from the present. This is truly, geared toward getting more sport pilots involved in pylon and hopefully we as a whole benefit from it.
As John mentioned, Jerry Small has put in countless hours and money to get this off of the ground and should be applauded for his efforts. The airplanes are beautiful and they fly like a million bucks!
I am excited about the future, as those of us who can't fly pylon racers at their local field now have an opportunity to fly a pylon racer again locally.
Cool! Are there any links or pics of some of the current designs out there or is it still premature?
In the posted pics, are the wings typical balsa sheeted polystyrene foam or lasercut rib + spar construction? Do they plug-in as panels on a round spar? - kinda looks like a hole in the fuse & rectangular retention tabs.
>>There are about 9 more designs others are working on that are in various stages... <<
Jerry Small did the LR1A, The Toni, a Midget Mustang and the OUTRAGEOUS. The plan all along was to use a rib built wings. However, in the early stages it was easier to cut cores. So to answer your question both are used. Horizon will be producing the LR1A as an ARF in the near future and it uses a built up wing in two panels that lock together. The Outrageous uses an aluminum tube and the panels butt up against the fuse sides. The Outrageous also uses a rib built up wing.
I have done the Miss Bernardino and it uses a rib built wing with two panels that butt up against the fuselage sides. I am finalizing the parts now and should be building the prototype before the PHX race. Rumor has it that Pete Bergstrom will be at PHX with the new LR1A from Horizon as well as the new power systems.
As far as others, I know Jerry has seen drawings, but I have not. Hopefully, those working on stuff post some picts.
We can discuss limiters at another time. It's probably best to crawl before we walk and just get some planes in production and flying. Local racing may end up having a local flavor like club .25 and .40 racing. Limiters will certainly be foreign to most gas racers.
The key is to get the manufacturers to mass produce as many designs as possible. That is going to be a key driver to success, because most people don't like to build today.
"Great looking airplanes, they look like a real hoot to fly. Jerry makes the cowling, is he selling the kits? "
Jerry is not really selling the airplanes. He is devoting all his effort to get the designs produced as ARFS. And Jerry is donating all this for the racing fraternity. He makes no money whatsoever doing this. He is driven by one thought, "We need someone to race against.. we aren't getting any younger!"
Jerry with the donated help of some friends produced about 10 or so prototypes kits that were just laser cut wood and the cowling components. The only way we got one is to promise to promote this racing class. Jerry did all the glass and vacuform work himself. He is a master of this, but gave up on selling stuff like this years ago.
I doubt there will be any more prototype kits, but I'm not sure what will shake loose.
Danny may be willing to produce his design, I haven't talked to him about it.
Question about Batt:
It has to be lipo 4s and under 325 g. Can it be 5s lifepo4? A123 M1 cell would weight a little more but other prismatic cells would weight about the same.
If you want to get gas racers involved then the whole electric thing is likely to be foreign to them.
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