The Thompson Trophy race was one of the National Air Races of the heyday of early airplane racing in the 1930s. Established in 1929, the last race was held in 1961. The race was 10 miles (16 km) long with 50-foot-high (15 m) pylons marking the turns, and emphasized low altitude flying and maneuverability at high speeds. As the race was flown around a closed course, crowds in the grandstands could easily see much of the spectacle.
There were two series of Thompson races. The first series followed the award of a "Thompson Cup" in the 1929 National Air Races to the winner of the "International Land Plane Free-For-All" (that is, the unlimited class race). Thompson Products (a predecessor to TRW) decided to sponsor a trophy to be awarded for the next ten years for unlimited class racing (though a stipulation was eventually added excluding women pilots). The trophy was designed by Walter Sinz and is now at Air and Space Museum. Sinz also made a pair of 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) models of the trophy for promotional purposes. Races were held for the next ten years, ending in 1939. Further races in this series were precluded by the onset of war.
After World War II the original trophy was (according to stipulation) retired. Also, advances in airplane technology, especially the advent of the turbojet, complicated matters. It was decided to establish a new series, with "R" (piston engine) and "J" (jet-powered) divisions. The "R" class was for civilian competition; the "J" division was for military pilots and was administered by the United States Air Force. Roscoe Turner, the last winner of the pre-war trophy, refused to relinquish it, but the original molds were located, and two additional casts were made, differing only in the legend engraved at the base and by placards identifying the division. Division "R" races were held from 1946 to 1949; Division "J" races (also known as "Military Speed Dashes") were held from 1951 to 1961, except 1952 and 1960.
|1929||Cleveland||Doug Davis||Travel Air Type R Mystery Ship
|1930||Chicago||Charles W. Holman||Laird LC-DW300 Solution
|1931||Cleveland||Lowell Bayles||Gee Bee Model Z
|1932||Cleveland||Jimmy Doolittle||Gee Bee R-1
|1933||Los Angeles||James R. Wedell||Wedell-Williams 44
|1934||Cleveland||Roscoe Turner||Wedell-Williams 44
|1935||Cleveland||Harold Neumann||Howard DGA-6 "Mr. Mulligan" "
|1936||Los Angeles||Michel Detroyat||Caudron C.460
|1937||Cleveland||R. A. "Rudy" Kling||Folkerts SK-3
|1938||Cleveland||Roscoe Turner||Laird-Turner Meteor LTR-14
|1939||Cleveland||Roscoe Turner||Laird-Turner Meteor LTR-14
|1940||No races during this period due to World War II|
|1946||Cleveland||Alvin "Tex" Johnston||Bell P-39Q
|1947||Cleveland||Cook Cleland||Goodyear F2G Corsair
|1948||Cleveland||Anson Johnson||North American P-51D
|1949||Cleveland||Cook Cleland||Goodyear F2G Corsair
|1951||Detroit||Colonel Ascani||North American F-86E Sabre
|1953||Dayton||Brig. General Holtoner||North American F-86D Sabre
|1954||Dayton||Captain Sonnenberg||North American F-86H Sabre
|1955||Edwards Air Force Base||Colonel Hanes||North American F-100C Super Sabre
|1956||NAS China Lake||Commander Windsor||Vought F8U-1 Crusader
|1957||Edwards Air Force Base||Major Drew||McDonnell F-101A Voodoo
|1958||Edwards Air Force Base||Captain Irwin||Lockheed F-104A Starfighter
|1959||Edwards Air Force Base||Major Rogers||Convair F-106A Delta Dart
|1961||Edwards Air Force Base||Major Harold E. Confer||Convair B-58A Hustler
- Campen, Richard N., Outdoor Sculpture of Ohio, Chagrin Falls, Ohio: West Summit Press, 1980 p. 63
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thompson Trophy.|
- THE THOMPSON TROPHY STORY
- The Major Trophy Races of the Golden Age of Air Racing
- Thompson Trophy on Air Racing History site
- “Doolittle Tames the Gee Bee”. Online reprint of Nov. 1994 article from Aviation History magazine. Includes photos & video.
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