Full time chemical production engineer and part time air race pilot Scott Holmes placed seventh in the first Air Race 1 event to be held in China. The November 16-18 event, dubbed the China Cup, saw 13 pilots and four countries represented in the Wuhan City event.

Entrants race around a three-mile course at altitudes as low as 33 feet at speeds in excess of 216 knots. Race rules limit engine size to 200 cubic inches.

Holmes, at 29, was the youngest participant in the China Cup. And at 350 total hours in the air, he figures he’s the least experienced as well, citing fellow competitors with 20,000 hours of airline flight time. Holmes competed in the 2017 National Formula One Air Racing Championships in Reno, Nevada, his first professional race.

Holmes told the CBC in an interview, “In Asia it’s a bit like the Wild West of Aviation. They don’t have a lot of the typical rules and laws and best practices that we’ve built in North America over the years. So we have to kind of use our best judgment in a lot of situations.” He cites smog, trees and adjacent restricted military airspace as challenges not present in the desert environment of Nevada.

The aircraft Holmes flies is a single-seat Cassutt, a purpose-built racing airplane that he has nick-named ‘Outlaw’. Built with tubular steel, plywood wings and a spruce spar, the ‘amateur-constructed’ aircraft was designed by former TWA captain Thomas Cassutt in 1951. An updated version of the racer features a taper-wing design.

Click here for a video recording of an interview with Scott Holmes.