...but gorgeous and inspiring. Warbirds can't fly without spare parts and the Reno racers were using them all up!! So, in the early 90's Bob Pond (wax magnate) decided to fund a new modern high-tech plane to beat the warbirds and drive them out of the game before they jeopardized the other warbird's ability to remain flyable. Burt Rutan's business built it. It was ill-fated but oh my god the noise and such a sci-fi plane to watch. (more + vid)

Scaled Composites built this thing. (Rutan Model 158) The meat of the plane and its problem was the pair of 300zx's VG-30 engines massaged by Electramotive. The same people who built them for the Nissan GTP and LeMans teams where they made 1100hp for qualifying. The most of that 1100hp that LeMans ever saw was at the most 15 seconds at a time. In this application they were trying to make 1,000hp at full 8k rpm for a solid 15 minutes!! Oh yeah, they sat inside of 2 foot diameter tubes with all kinds of plumbing strategically run elsewhere to try and prevent heat issues. It couldn't last. Cooling was not an issue. It ran on Methanol, that greatly helped cool it. The stress of the high boost and RPM was the culprit. They blew engines literally all over the place. Burt Rutan said the design planning and follow-through was more complex than the Voyager project. This pair of engines had EM interference so severe they had problems trying to isolate the engine management boxes so they didn't have 'cross-over engine failures'. Of course if you split the crankshaft and throw 5 rods and catch fire that's the least of your worries.

This video is in German. I can't find it in English anywhere but the people interviewed in it are English.

Notes on the video. Notice how they immediately attach cooling hoses and remove the cowlings so the engines can cool down. This plane required pre-heating of all oil and coolants before flight. Dick Rutan has said that it's more difficult to land than a Mig-29, I would agree. The approach speed is the same speed of an airliner: 140kts (160mph) and It did not have flaps to help slow it. It was designed to be the cleanest prop driven plane in history.


The plane suffered through those engines. They never made more than 600hp in any of their programs and it had then undetermined oiling problems due to the constant rpm it was running at. In 1993 it threw a rod and caught fire and landed off airport killing the pilot. A very bad ending to a very nice idea. The only bad decision the whole time was the choice of engine. The type of power they wanted for long periods of time was only being mostly produced by indycar engines. they could run constantly at 700+hp outputs on methanol for long periods. A possibly better choice for longevity but still short of power. The plane was just ahead of engine technology. Unlimited class racing had to be recip power.

In the below video, skip to 4:35 to hear it under race power. It's a VHS tape recording the passes of the Bronze race.

There is sadly very little video of this plane out there. (It taxis back to the ramp at about 6:30 with a finicky right engine. he's trying to re-start it to keep airflow moving through the cowling until the crew can attach air hoses.) Nowdays Jack Roush makes pretty much most parts to keep the warbirds in the air. Rolls Royce won't let him build new V-12 Merlin blocks but he can readily make all other parts to go in there.


I wish there were some dedicated race video shot by some professionals more available. This is the stuff that influences the youth to get involved. Perhaps some day another person will try.