The Verville-Sperry R-3 Racer was a cantilever wing monoplane with a streamlined fuselage and the second aircraft with fully retractable landing gear, the first being the Dayton-Wright Racer. In 1961, the R-3 racer was identified as one of the "Twelve Most Significant Aircraft of all Time" by Popular Mechanics magazine. In 1924, an R-3 won the Pulitzer Trophy in Dayton, OH.
At the 1922 Pulitzer Trophy race, all three R-3's started in the race, but only two finished. Lieutenant Eugene Barksdale finished fifth at around 181 mph (291 km/h). Lieutenant Fonda B. Johnson finished seventh, his engine freezing after landing. And Lieutenant St. Clair Streett broke an oil line and had a forced landing, damaging his airplane.
For the 1923 Pulitzer, a Curtiss D-12 engine was installed in the plane which eliminated some vibration problems that the H-3 engine had. With the new engine the top speed now was approaching 233 mph (375 km/h). That year a Curtiss biplane was the winner. With Orville Wright officially observing from the ground, Lieutenant Alexander Pearson, Jr. flying an R-3 set a 500 km World Speed Record of 167.74 mph (269.95 km/h) over a 10-lap course on March 31, 1923 at Wilbur Wright Field.
For the 1924 Pulitzer, the R-3, piloted by Lieutenant Harry H. Mills, won the race at a slow 215 mph (346 km/h). The ranked entry–a Curtiss biplane–crashed along the course.
After this race, the R-3 racers were sent to the McCook Field Museum.