Hovercrafts, designed to operate on both land and water and be masters of neither, are odd little beasts. They've got odd performance characteristics and ponderous handling. So that means when you race 'em, things get pretty crazy.
Believe it or not, hovercraft racing has been around for quite some time, and around the globe with this year's World Hovercraft Championships hosted in the UK. The popularity of the sport waxes and wanes, but its nature always stays the same: hover crafts racing around a track just like an auto race, except in these races part of the track is water and part is grass.
Like auto racing, there are various classes to enter. According to the Hoverclub of America, they're grouped into the following:
Formula 1 - The unlimited class of hovercraft racing. With no limits on the size or number of engines, it has the potential to be the fastest and most action packed event. Minimum age for participation is 16 years and is recommended for experienced drivers only.
Formula 2 - Formula 2 class machines may use any number of engines provided their total displacement does not exceed 500cc (750 cc if 4 stroke engines are used). Minimum age for participation is 16 years. Recommended for experienced drivers only.
Formula J - The Junior class is open to children up to age 18 and machines rated for the Entry Level, F25, or up to 277cc 2-cycle powered.
Formula S - Formula S machines are restricted to a single engine, fan and duct. The engine is not limited on displacement. This class of Minimum age for participation is 16 years.
Formula 25 - Quickly becoming the most popular racing class, Formula 25 machines are limited to a total rated horsepower of 25hp using "stock" 3600 RPM 4 stroke engine(s).The minimum age for participation is 11 years.
Entry Level - Entry Level machines are limited to a total rated horsepower of 15hp using "stock" 3600 RPM 4 stroke engine(s).The minimum age for participation is 11 years
Also like auto racing, there are crashes as well, though they tend to happen at lower speed. Because the races take place both on water and on dry land the racers are required to wear both fire retardant racing suits and life jackets in case they should crash on water.
All of that's great stuff, but really, the point is to watch a pack of hovercrafts sounding like a swarm of angry bees tail out around a corner. If you live in the US and hope to see one of these races, you better hope to live somewhere east of the Mississippi, because all but two of their events take place on the right side of the country. For more information check out Hoverclub of America.
Photo credit: Big Racing