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The Long Midget Mustang began as a one-of-a-kind racing plane in the postwar 1940s, before Formula One racing existed. Dave Long, chief engineer at Piper Aircraft, wanted a unique midget competitor that would whisk around the pylons. Long spent $70,000 to build his aircraft—in 1948, a decade’s salary for an established professional.

The racer had an 85-hp Continental engine, an 18-foot wingspan and an impressive top speed of 288 mph. Named after the P-51 Mustang fighter, it looked good, felt cramped and performed brilliantly—but it never won a race. The 1940s were a hectic period for racers. Dozens of other promising planes failed to earn the winner’s flag.

After a dormancy that lasted into the 1970s, others acquired the design. Its modern incarnation is the Mustang Aeronautics Midget Mustang, or MM-1. The MM-1 slipping the surly bonds in our photo was owned until recently by Barry Tanner of Lafayette, La.

The modern version is little changed from Long’s prototype, but has a bubble canopy so that it more closely resembles the fighter for which it’s named. Originally totally “plans built,” it is now available from Mustang Aeronautics ( in kit form.