The Halle Trophy Race.
Later, briefly renamed the Kendall Trophy Race, it was an air race for women aviators that ran for a few years after World War II.ย Inaugurated in 1946, the Halle Trophy Race took place in Cleveland, Ohio, and was named after one of its sponsors, an upscale Cleveland department store.ย It was one of many events at the National Air Races in Cleveland and limited to women aviators.ย In the 1946 race, the five women flyers who competed for the first trophy were photographed for Life magazine.ย The first winner was Marge Hurlburt, who would set a women’s airspeed record the following year.

The course for the Halle Trophy Race was five laps around a 15-mile course, or 75 miles altogether.ย The women who flew in the race were limited to modified versions of the North American T-6 Texan and anย advanced single-engine plane used to train U.S. pilots.ย Preferred models included the AT-6 and the SNJ. Many of the women who took part in this race were veterans of the Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASP).

Halle sponsored the race in 1946 and 1947.ย Kendall Oil then took over as sponsor of the race, which was renamed the Kendall Trophy Race for 1948 (not to be confused with a men’s race of the same name that had been run in 1947).ย In 1949, no sponsor could be found, so that year, the race was called simply the Women’s Trophy Race.

The group managing the air races put up a $5,500 purse. New rules were also inaugurated that year, stating that the planes had to keep their stock engines and that wings could not be clipped. Grace Harris won for the second year in a row, but at a much slower speed than in 1948.ย In 1950, all of the Cleveland races went on hiatus due to the outbreak of the Korean War, and the women’s trophy race went defunct.

R-54 – This T-6 was one of two T-6s (the other was NX-62280) modified with a turbo-superchargerย from either a B-17 or B-24.ย Jane Page Hiavacek flew R54 in the Halle Women’s Trophy Race at the Cleveland Nationals in 1946 (2nd placeย @ 200.462mph).ย  Betty Clark flew R54 in the same race in 1947 but failed to place.

Eight photos of R54 follow. (John D. Bybeeย Vermont, IL)
Here’s Race 54’s sister ship NX-62280, 41-499, m/n 77-4528 on June 10, 1948, @ the Lester Pfister Airstripย @ El Paso, Illinois.ย  The pilot is Boniface “Bonnie” J. Mayer (1921-2015) and copilots John “Jack” Patrick Kearney (1925-1994).ย  NX-62280 was owned by Lester Pfister of the Pfister Hybrid Seed Corn Co.ย  From 1947-1949 NX-62280 was engaged in rain-making/weather modifications missions in conjunctionย with the Illinois State Water Survey and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.ย Here’s my article on NX-62280 that appeared in the December 2021 issue of AIR CLASSICS. In addition, I’ll send you scans of the photos of NX-62280.
Regards John Bybeeย