Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Voodoo and Stevo Hinton do it again!

Back in 2008, Rookie Race Pilot, Steven Hinton was able to get a few laps in, first in Lady Jo and later that week in Sparky. He finished as high as 2nd in the Bronze and was probably the happiest guy on the ramp.

Stevo flying a perfect line
Anthony Taylor of

Who would have guessed that same young man would be a seven time Unlimited Champion – 4 in Strega and now 3 in Voodoo? All I know is – I’ve had a front row seat to his incredible journey. I could not be happier for him, his entire family and the Button Family and the entire Voodoo Crew! 

Qualifying at 475.027, some expected them to go for the Qualifying Record of just under 500 mph – but there was no one in his rear view mirror – so why push it. As we say in racing – “2nd place sets the pace”.

Speaking of 2nd place -- Jay Consalvi flew Czech Mate, the highly modified Yak-11 to a 444 qualifying lap and a well flown 2nd place finish. A pretty impressive showing for a Rookie! But, Jay is only a Rookie at Reno. With quite an impressive pedigree, we are happy to have Jay join our little family of racers! 

Jay Consalvi, Reno Rookie all around amazing pilot in Czech Mate
Anthony Taylor of

Brian Sanders flew Dreadnought to a 440 qualifying time and a safe 3rd place finish. Curt Brown in Sawbones was 4th. Joel Swager – another Rookie – came in 5th in Argonaut just ahead of his father-in-law, Dennis Sanders in 924.

Rookie Joel Swager flying Argonaut to a respectable 5th place finish
Anthony Taylor of

Dusty Dowd took the Silver in Lylia, another Yak-11. Dusty comes to us from Syracuse, KS and is – a Crop Duster. We’re hoping the bugs stay away each September so he can continue to grace us with his flying.

A real surprise was Mrs. Virginia; the Allison powered P-51A owned by the Planes of Fame Museum. John Maloney flew her to some pretty impressive speeds – good enough to beat out several of the Merlin Powered P-51Ds.

Those P-51Ds included Wee Willy flown by Rob Patterson, The Rebel flown by John Currenti and Doug Matthews and Sparky/Blondie flown by Brant Seghetti.

This year’s event was another series of ups and downs. Over the next few columns we will dissect each Race Class in detail – but until then – here are your winners this year.

Congrats to all the teams and to RARA for running another spectacular event.

  • Jet ClassAmerican Spirit, L-39 Albatros, Pilot Rick Vandam
  • Sport Class, Race 39, Glasair III, Pilot Jeff LaVelle
  • T-6 Class, Baron’s Revenge, AT-6B, Pilot Chris Rushing – First time winner
  • IF1 Class, Fraed Naught, Gilbert DG2, Pilot Lowell Slatter – First time winner
  • Biplane Class, Reno Rabbit, Mong Sport, Pilot Jeff Rose – First time winner

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Getting Ready for the Races 2016

It’s that time of year again – everyone is getting ready for another exciting Reno Air Race week. There is a lot of new happenings, some returning racers who were missed and other news to share. So let’s get started.

Sport Class

As we have said in the past, the Sport Class is the place to be. The Class is coming off an amazingly successful PRS week with 54 pilots and instructors, 48 planes flying a total of 500 sorties between the FAST Formation event and PRS. That was 8 days of flying – and makes herding cats look easy.

They originally had 49 entries and are expecting a group of 44. This will allow them Gold, Silver, Bronze and Medallion Races. The guess is you’d have to be over 400mph to win the gold. Over 300 to win the Silver and 270 would be a good time in Bronze and the Medallion race will be faster than anything in the past as well.

The Gold group will see John Parker attempting to repeat in his beautiful Thunder Mustang, Blue Thunder II. Jeff Lavelle is back with the world’s fastest Glasair and we know he’s ready. Dave Sterling, Andrew Findlay and Lynn Farnsworth are all in the hunt for the crown. Gary Mead and Vince Walker may be there as well – and who knows what Kevin Eldredge in Relentless has up his sleeve.  

Jeff Lavell is BACK! And he’s FAST! Credit: Rob “Phred” Miller

Two fan favorites should be back this year, Elliot Seguin is signed up to bring back Darryl Greenamyer’s old ride, #33 with the help of Andy Chiavetta. And Colleen Keller is slated to bring back Dennis Stutes old Super Legacy. This will be a very exciting group to watch.

The other big news in the Sport Class is the inaugural Slalom or Match Race. The concept will be one on one competition between two Sport aircraft. Both aircraft will be on the course doing a side by side slalom race. They will utilize the Formula/Biplane course.  They practiced and trained for it during PRS and it looked pretty fun! Currently they are looking for a bracket of 8 pilots with single elimination. I’m pretty excited about seeing this and also interested in the crowd’s interest in events like this for the future.
And Race 33 should be there 
Credit: Tim Adams


The Jet Class is also a growing group and they seem to be working on a very competitive event this year. Rick Vandam in American Spirit will be taking on last year’s winner Pete Zaccagnino in his Vampire. Sean Cushing in Fast Company will also make it interesting. Zach McNeill is also bringing a Vampire. This all sounds good to me. The Jets will again offer close racing and a lot of fun!

Formula 1

This Class has been reinvigorated over the last few years. With years of pilot and aircraft decline – we were concerned about the future of the F1 Class -- but, not anymore! This year, they have a full field of 24 racers. To put it in perspective, the last time they had a full field of 24 was in 2002. The record was 29 in 1991. 

Three things have happened to bring life back to the Class.
  • Air Race 1 – while they did not have any contests this year, the excitement of a World Wide Air Race for Formula 1 sent several people scrambling to dig through the barn and get their airplanes flying again.    
  • GripLockTies and Creighton King put together the Slab Wing Dash for Cash. $1000 Cash Money (as Creighton likes to say) will go to the fastest Slab Wing Cassutt (or other Slab Wing racer) He is putting up the money for Fastest Speed (determined by Qualifying time and Race Speed – there is a formula, of course.)  I think it’s a great idea – money talks, as we know! 
  • And the final element is a sense of camaraderie this group has developed. Between Justin Phillipson and his West Coast operation and Phil Goforth and his Midland, TX based Fly Boyz Race Camp and the IF1 Doctor, Steve Tumlin – there is just renewed interest and support for those just starting out in IF1 Air Racing.

Grip Lock Ties is sponsoring the Slab Wing Dash for Cash
Credit: Tim Adams

This Class will be very exciting to watch this year. And – all you need to do is wake up early enough to be there at the start. You shouldn’t miss it!


Biplanes are having an interesting time this year also. With Tom Aberle announcing that he and Phantom are taking the year off – there is an open spot at the top. I know several of the Gold Racers have been putting in the extra effort to get the win. Jeff Rose is probably the favorite in his bright yellow Mong, Reno Rabbit. Of all the racers on the roster this year, he has the fastest time in the past. But – that doesn’t account for what others have done in the off-season. The Gold should be very exciting this year. And a New Champion will be crowned!


It seems the T6 Class has the same three guys at the top each year. Nick Macy in his gorgeous Six Cat, John Lohmar in his Radial Velocity and Dennis Buehne in Midnight Miss III. Last year had Chris Rushing coming out of the Silver to give Dennis a run for his money at the end – but Dennis still won.

This year, I have an idea things may be a bit different. See, Eric Woelbing is not bringing his Bare Essentials this year. Nope, he’s bringing Eddie Von Fossen’s old Miss TNT. I have a feeling he will be in the mix for the Gold! T6 Racing is always close – and always fun to watch.


The Unlimited Class is having a difficult year. It seems Rare Bear decided to take a year off at the same time that Strega decided to take the year off. That brings a completely new view at the top of the leaderboard.

Jay Consalvi was to fly Strega this year, but he will be flying Czech Mate instead. So, I have a feeling most of the Strega fans will be pulling for the little Yak this year.

Shafter Power
Czech Mate will be taking Strega’s place this year
Credit Rob “Phred” Miller

Voodoo with Stevo Hinton will be there trying to win back the title. They have been making subtle changes and testing during the off-season. I know they will be ready to go.
And there is always everyone’s favorite Sunday Ride – Dreadnaught. Dread has won before and if anyone else has a hiccup, this could be the Sanders’ year. They are always poised and ready to rock and roll.

The rest of the roster is light – yes, we know. But we need to support the races during the lean years, so there will be better years. Just be there! Wear your favorite team’s colors and let them know you are still cheering them on!

The Show

THE BLUE ANGELS WILL BE THERE! They put on a heck of a display and I cannot wait to see them back at Reno. We’ll see you there – September 14-18! But, if you’re a REAL FAN – you’ll be there by the 11th to watch all the Qualifying Action!

Fly Low, Fly Fast and Turn Left!
See in at Stead.

Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing
Pylon Place 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Help out Team Ruby for 2016!

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Story About Air Racing

This month, I’m going to tell you a story. This story, like many others, has its ups and downs. There are heroes and there are lessons. Hopefully you’ll enjoy my story.

First, there was a guy named Jay Jones. Jay loved to fly. He loved to race. He loved to tinker with things to make them go faster. He was also the guy you could always go to if you needed a wrench, a kind word, or someone to fix your wheel pants (Jay’s specialty – it seemed).

Jay Jones in his Quadnickel

When I say Jay loved to fly – I mean he flew his IF1 Cassutt Racer from his home in Buena Vista, Colorado to Oshkosh – several times. That means about 1000 miles each way, in a plane that needs to land about every hour or two. Oh, and there is really no place for luggage. And there are no instruments to fly with – it’s basic stick and rudder flying.

We lost Jay on July 4th. He was returning to his home airport after a fly-in about 100 miles away. His aircraft, a Seawind, had some sort of emergency, he radioed a mayday – but wasn’t specific about what type of trouble he was having.

He ended up trying to land in a small field while avoiding populated areas all around. It is largely believed he deliberately steered away from those more populated areas. Either way, he’s gone – but he’s not. There is much more to his story.

Jay had 2 daughters, Haley and Allison. His daughters were the apples of his eye. We all know Allison as she was part of our racing family and has been to the Races several times before.

Allison Jones was born with a defective leg. Her parents had to make some difficult decisions when she was born to remove her bad leg – knowing she would be better off with a prosthetic device. From that moment, I believe Jay was always coming up with ways to make that prosthetic better for her – whether the idea was to make it faster or more comfortable, his mind was always coming up with better, faster, lighter, smarter.

Justin Meaders flying Quadnickel with his hand controls

Allison excelled in sports, mostly skiing and cycling. She will be representing the USA in her 8th Paralympic Games in Rio this summer.  Jay was so excited – he wasn’t going to race this year, because he was going to Rio and watch her in her final Paralympic Games.

Now, the story gets even more interesting. Jay meets up with another pilot – a man named Justin Meaders.  Justin and Jay had many things in common. They were both skilled craftsmen, pilots and both were touched by disabilities. See, Justin lost the use of his legs in a motorcycle racing incident years ago.

Even as a child, Justin was a bit different. On his 5th birthday, he received his first motorcycle. He learned to ride it that day and never looked back. From that moment on – speed became his drug. He was always looking for ways to make that bike faster or to make it handle better.

Unfortunately, during a motorcycle road racing event, he was launched off his bike, over the handlebars while traveling about 150 mph. The bike then cartwheeled in the air after him – probably pouncing on him several times. He woke up before medical assistance could get to him and knew he was in trouble. But, he certainly didn’t lose his spunk. While flying in the medical helicopter, he asked the pilot if he could ride up front with him. The pilot laughed and said, “Maybe next time”.  

His spunk has never left him. While his dad was a pilot, Justin didn’t get around to flying until after his accident. He stumbled onto the International Wheelchair Aviators group and found they were based in TX – where he lived. He drove down and met their president, Mike Smith. Mike helped Justin understand the types of hand controls available for certified airplanes, how to install them and use them. After a few lessons with Mike, Justin then found a school closer to his home which worked with him on his hand control needs.

Through many delays and truckloads of paperwork, he was granted his FAA Medical and now the sky is no longer the limit.

Team Quadnickel

Justin had been following IF1 for several years before. He was introduced to the Air Racing Family in 2013 when he crewed for another Justin – Justin Phillipson. When he started to talk to other IF1 pilots about building his own race plane which could be flown without the use of legs – they were all quite interested – Jay especially.

Justin’s airplane wasn’t going to be ready in time for the Races this year. And since Jay was heading to Brazil to watch Allison – it took Jay about 5 seconds to say – “How about we put your hand controls into my race plane, Quadnickel?!” – And that’s all it took.

The next thing you know, a group of IF1 pilots and crew headed to Midland, TX to the Flyboyz Race Camp to install the hand controls and get Justin ready for PRS – Pylon Racing Seminar – aka “Rookie School”. He probably had more time in Quadnickel than most first time Rookies at PRS. His first flight had everyone at the airport standing by cheering him on. We’re still cheering him on!  
Justin Meaders is now a Race Pilot. He is a member of our Racing Family and we are happy to have him and his infectious enthusiasm.  

And Jay lives on in our hearts, minds and in the air – with Justin at the controls of his Quadnickel.

That’s my story.

Photo Credits:
Tim Adams,
Anthony Taylor, 

National Championship Air Races to Include Two Concerts this year

RENO, Nev. – For the first time in its 53 year history, the National Championship Air Races will feature two on-site concerts this year. The concerts, which will be on Friday and Saturday night, will occur after the day’s final air race and are free to race attendees.

“We know that when the final air race is complete, it is sometimes a rush to the gate and our fans occasionally experience a traffic jam,” Mike Crowell, President and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association said. “This year, we are going to showcase two great bands after the final race Friday and Saturday which will give our fans an opportunity to mix, mingle and avoid the traffic jam.”

The Juantanamos, whose music reflects the diversity of their surroundings by drawing inspiration from a wide range of musical styles, will perform Saturday night. The band will present over two hours of live music including some of rock’s biggest hits, songs from their debut “Ghost Tracks,” a sneak peek at a few songs from their upcoming second album, and a surprise special guest appearance sure to bring down the hangar!

The Nick Lawrence Band, focused on Texas country music with a twist of southern and alternative rock, will play Friday night. The band’s newest release, “Moonshine,” hit the online market in April 2016 and features two tracks that listeners are particularly captivated by, Hashtag Moonshine and Backside of Blue. Nick Lawrence has opened shows for artists including George Strait, Gary Allan, and Diamond Rio and has performed the AT&T Center for San Antonio Spurs halftime concerts.

Tickets are on sale for the 53rd Annual National Championship Air Races held September 14-18, 2016 at Reno Stead Airport. For more information, or to volunteer, visit

About the Reno Air Racing Association:
The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA), a 501(c)(3), holds the National Championship Air Races every September just north of Reno. The Reno Air Races have become an institution for northern Nevada and aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Last year’s event generated more than $66 million for the region’s economy. The event features six racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civil flight demonstrations. For more information on the National Championship Air Races, to obtain media credentials, volunteer or purchase tickets for this year’s event, visit

Media Contact:
Mary-Sarah Kinner
The Glenn Group

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pylon Racing Seminar 2016

In 1997, it was decided there should be a better way to help prepare pilots for the National Championship Air Races held each year during September, in Reno, NV. Previously, hopeful race pilots may arrive a few days early in September and be taken through a series of air maneuvers the weekend before the races.  As the races started to attract more classes and more racers – a better, more structured training became necessary.

This June marked the 19th Pylon Racing Seminar AKA Rookie School. And - for the fourth year in a row – a record number of participants were in attendance.  Between the 6 Race Classes, 79 airplanes and 130 participants from all over the world made their way to Stead to practice, to qualify to have fun.

“We are beyond excited to have hosted a record number of planes and participants at this year’s Pylon Racing Seminar, Mike Crowell, President and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association said. “Not only is PRS an opportunity for new pilots to get a feel for the course and understand safety guidelines, it is also a chance for returning pilots to train for September. It was a great few days for the Reno Air Racing Association and we are looking forward to this year’s National Championship Air Races.”

There are only two periods per year when racers are able to fly on the course –during PRS and during Race Week. So, PRS doesn’t just attract new racers, but returning pilots and veterans who want to have a little fun or knock the rust off their skills.

Each Class spends part of the time in a General Session learning about NCAR and the Reno Air Races. Then they split up into their specific Classes and learn the specific operations for their group – basically Ground School. The final 2 segments of the training include specific Air Work, based on their Class’s requirements. Then, they can finally get on the race course.

Specific skills are required for each different Class. For example, if they have a ground start like the Biplanes and Formula Classes – they will practice take-offs with a maximum 10 foot deviation in either direction. And to ensure racers know how to get out of bad air on the pylons, they may be asked to do aileron rolls – right and left. If they have an air start, they are required to fly formation and simulate a typical join up and chute approach. And most classes will have the attendees perform a simulated Mayday to show their understanding of their aircraft and the flight characteristics during an emergency.

Something else which is relatively new is the ability for a racer to come to PRS and go through the General Sessions, the Ground School and hold the Air Work for September. This works great for people coming from further away – where flying across the country twice would be quite difficult.  It opens up the field to pilots who have always wanted to race, but couldn’t make both PRS and Race Week.

As expected, the Sport Class was the big winner with over 50 attendees, including rookies, returning racers who have not raced in the last 3 years - to recertify, veterans interested in practice or testing and instructors. Even with all of the attendees, in disparate aircraft and skill levels – the Sport Class worked like a well-oiled machine. Each session was planned out in advance with the instructors, flight leaders and rookies mixing it up and getting it done.

Over 20 participants in Formula 1 mark their best year ever. This seems to be another Class getting renewed interest from the Sport Pilot community. Philip Goforth and Jay Jones have been instrumental in locating pilots around the country who own Formula 1 racing planes and talking them into joining the movement. More on this Class in next month’s column – but for now – know that they are on the move!

The T-6 Clubhouse was buzzing with happy pilots. Jerry Thurman’s hangar has become the “Happy Place for the T-6 Class”. They do their pre-flight and post-flight briefs in this facility and rarely venture too far away. Some great new pilots have joined their #s including Chris LeFave and active duty USN Aviator, Peter Stavrides. Congrats, gentlemen!

Also, Eric Woelbing was there in preparation for his sophomore year. If his name sounds familiar, he is the proud owner of famous racing Sea Furys, Miss Merced and Furias.  But, he will be racing his T-6 – Eddie Van Fossen’s old Miss TNT. I expect we will hear much more from him and his racing team in the future.

Yes, you Unlimited Fans – there were Unlimiteds at PRS. In fact, 2 new pilots were certified – Joel Swager and Bernie Vasquez. Joel flew Argonaut while Stevo Hinton and Bernie shared Voodoo during the week, with Bernie going for his certification and Stevo looking to get some telemetry on the aerodynamic modifications they made prior to the 2015 season – but with their engine not making the power they expected – they felt they never were able to get clear numbers to justify the modifications. PRS is a perfect time to do things like this.

Two other returning racers came back to take Ground School and will finish up their recertification in September. John Maloney and Jim Thomas will likely be flying John and Sue Paul’s P-51B, Boise Bee – and one of their P-40s (likely Sneak Attack) in September. A Big THANK YOU to John, Jim, and the Pauls for coming back!

Three Rookies were also in attendance for Ground School only. Ira Saligman and Olivier Langeard will be flying Yaks in September and Trevor Merton returned – but not sure what he will be flying yet.

Jay Consalvi attended PRS in 2010 in a Corsair. Since then, he hasn’t raced, but has always been around Warbirds. He is a retired Naval Aviator with time in both the F-14 and F-18. He is also the male lead in the movie Speed and Angels – which was touted as the “Real Life Top Gun”.  

Originally, Jay was looking to race Strega – but it looks like Czech Mate may be his ride this year instead. Either way, he is a welcome addition to the roster. With his name on the list, it looks like we will have approximately 18 Unlimiteds in September. Great news for you Warbird Fans!

Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped out at PRS – especially the photographers, race control and the TUG GUYS! The unsung heroes of keeping us on schedule! And of course, Anthony Taylor and Warbird Fotos for providing the amazing shots for this month.

There is more to come in the next few months. We will be focusing on a few racers who have a great story to tell and will keep the fans up to date with the exciting happenings in preparation for September.

Until then – Fly Low, Fly Fast and Turn Left!

Marilyn Dash
Pylon Place
Ruby Red Racing