Keith Rider built a series of racers, beginning with the R-1 in 1931. He built the R-4 for the 1936 National Air Races. Wearing race number 70, the R-4 won the 1936 Shell Speed Dash with a speed of 225.5 mph, and went on to finish third in the Thompson Trophy Race. The aircraft then went on to place 5th and 6th in two Greve races.
Rider sold the R-4 to Bill Schoenfeldt after the 1936 races. Schoenfeldt had the racer modified, replacing the original Menasco B6S Buccaneer engine with a C6S-4 Super Buccaneer. The aircraft was renamed the Schoenfeldt Firecracker, and retained race number 70. It finished second in the 1937 St. Louis Air Races, but only managed a 7th place finish in the Thompson race.
For the 1938 races, Schoenfeldt hired famed pilot Tony LeVier. At the Oakland races, LeVier won two events and got the airplane up to a top speed of 260.7 mph. At the Greve Races in Cleveland that year, Levier took first place with an average speed of almost 251 mph. A crash landing following this race put the Firecracker out of commission for the Thompson race that year.
LeVier flew the Firecracker again in the 1939 races.
Due to magneto problems, he failed to complete the Greve race, but the airplane was repaired for the next day's Thompson Trophy race. LeVier finished the race in 2nd place, behind Roscoe Turner in the LTR-14. 1939 was the last year of the Cleveland races, and the end of the Schoenfeldt Firecracker's racing career.
The original Schoenfeldt Firecracker, flown by Tony LeVier, is on display at Planes of Fame Air Museum.
Status: Static Display
Manufacturer: Keith Rider
Model: R-4 Firecracker
Registration Number: NX261Y
Max T/O Weight: 1,325 lb.
Span: 18 ft. 0 in.
Length: 19 ft. 6 in.
Height: 6 ft. 3 in.
Maximum Speed: 285 mph
Cruise Speed: N/A
Rate of Climb: N/A
Power Plant: 1 × Menasco C6S-4 Super Buccaneer 6-cylinder air-cooled engine, 330 hp.