were low-wing, wire braced monoplanes, and like "Pete" were
very small and had a minimum of frontal area. There was a
slight difference in weight, "Ike" being a bit lighter of
the two. Both were powered by Menasco Buccaneer engines of
485 cu. in. displacement, differing in octane ratings only.
The engine in "Ike" was set for a higher octane, thus giving
a little boost in horsepower. The extra horsepower and being
a little lighter may have accounted for "Ike" being the
faster of the two in 1932. Oddly enough, it was always a
toss-up as to which of the ships would be the fastest from
year to year.
Wing span of
both ships was 20 ft. 1 in. and the fuselage was 17 ft.
long. The cockpit in each case was hinged on the side and
closed after the pilot was inside. A large hole for the
pilot's head was left open. Ventilation was assured by 30
small holes drilled in the windshield. The cockpits were
small and the pilot's seat was level with the rudders. A
slight difference appeared in the engine cowling, with
"Mike" having less cooling louvers than "Ike" but a larger
rectangular opening on the left side of the cowl for
cooling. "Mike" had a cowl designed for a spinner, which was
entered "Ike" in six events at the 1932 National Air Races.
He flew three of them himself -taking two firsts and one
second. During one of the races he was pressed closely by
Roy Liggett in the Cessna CR-2 with Johnny Livingston and
his short-winged Monocoupe a length behind. Bill Ong ran
fourth in this event but later got "Mike" wound up and took
second under same conditions.
Two major air
races occurred at the same time in 1933, so Howard sent
Harold Neumann to the American Air Races with "Ike". The
tandem wheels had been removed and replaced with normal
small panted wheels. This resulted in a weight saving and
improved streamlining so a performance improvement resulted.
Harold participated in only one event, placing third. He was
dogged by engine trouble during the balance of the meet, so
he stepped into the Folkerts SK-1 to finish the races.
Roy Minor and
"Mike" were sent out to take over the Nationals. "Mike" had
been modified considerably. The spinner design for the cowl
had been abandoned and the large rectangular opening on the
side was closed. Many of the cowl louvers were also faired
in. A set of small wheels and wheel pants replaced the large
un-spatted wheels of 1932.
"Mike" really took over the National Air Races of 1933,
copping four firsts, two seconds, two two fifths, two thirds
and one fourth. Both ships were present at the 1934
Nationals, with no apparent changes other than a recovering
job on Mike," whose lettering was now in gold edged with
black. Roy Hunt was in the cockpit of "Mike" and Harold
Neumann in "Ike". Hunt picked up two fifths and .Neumann
finished with two fourths. Best closed course speed for
"Ike" this year was 211.55 mph, 30 mph faster than "Mike".
the 1935 "Benny Howard National Air Races", this was a
banner year for Ben. His racers won the Bendix, Thompson and
Greve Trophy races that year.
sponsored by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors and
was known as "Miss Chevrolet". It was equipped with a
special carburettor and now held the worlds inverted speed
record. However, the ship did not participate in the races
as Neumann wiped the gear off during qualifying runs. Harold
came back strong winning the Thompson in "Mr. Mulligan" and
three firsts in the 550 cu. in. class with "Mike". Marion
McKeen had worked the bugs out of his new Brown B-2 and gave
Neumann some uninvited competition by finishing less than
one mile per hour behind "Mike".
Nationals certainly were not a repeat for Howard. "Mike" was
the only one to finish a race that year. Harold Neumann ran
a speed dash in it, clocking 223.714 mph, which placed him
fourth in the Shell event. Joe Jacobson placed fifth in the
Greve and nosed over on landing. The 1936 r aces were not
profitable to Ben Howard.
appeared at the 1937 Nationals, now travelling with the
Fordon-Brown Air Shows. It did not race as the Menasco was
not functioning properly. Both "Ike" and 'Mike" were brought
by R. Rovner of Cleveland and were to participate in the
1939 races, but due to technical difficulties did not
appear. The only visible change was a yellow paint job on
"Mike" are still in existence, located in Ohio where it is
rumoured that they are undergoing restoration. During the
racing career of these two ships the honours for top speed
changed hands many times. "Mike" turned a speed dash of
241.61 mph compared to 239.63 mph for "Ike," but closed
course speed honours went to "Ike" with 215.2 tnph, with
214.4 tuph for "Mike". Not much difference in speed
performance, yet they differed as much as 30 mph in single
events in which both performed. Could it have been piloting?