Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reno Racing Preview 2009

It looks like 2009 will be a great year for air racing. Lots of new and returning pilots and new and returning race planes will be in attendance. I’ve got lots to cover, so let’s get started.

International Formula 1

In IF1, five of their top six finishers from last year will return providing some great racing in the Gold. In addition they will have 4 Rookies competing in their first race.

Australian, Lachlan “Lachie” Onslow will make his racing debut in Kiwi, John Kokshorn’s “Outrageous”. This airplane has been highly competitive for many years with Scotty Crandlemire and we are looking for some great things from the boys from down under.

It is particularly nice to see some of last year’s Rookies return to race again this year. Thom Richard is bringing two aircraft. Tim Neubert’s “Invictus” is the old Zipper and will be very competitive. Thom will also be bringing his racer Miss USA and will have William Diaz fill the driver’s seat. Thom is a very accomplished pilot and will do well in this very competitive ride.

Dan Peters will be joining us again this year. He was a Rookie last year who really showed us what he’s made of when his canopy decided to come undone during flight. He managed the mayday well and is back for more. His racer “Route 66” but is better known the old timers as Pooder, is a fan favorite.

Smokey Young, the President of the IF1 Class always gives the Rookies a speech at PRS about them being “the future of IF1 and air racing.” But, when the Rookies return for a second season it solidifies their future and the future of IF1.

Other notable returns include a dear friend of mine Ed Dutreaux in Slingshot. He took a two year hiatus, but is back. We wish you a mighty welcome back, Ed.

Caption: Thom Richard will be flying Tim Neubert’s Invictus
Photo credits Neal Sands.

Sport Biplanes

Nine of last year’s top ten qualifiers are returning and Miss Gianna, Jeff Lo’s winner from 2007 will be back. The Gold will be pretty exciting here also. Phantom will be back, with some small changes and some large. She is getting a new paint job and many of us are excited to see what the team will do. Norman Way is always competitive in “The World’s Fastest Pitts”.

Wake up early and watch the morning racers go. We also invite you to make it to the far end of the Pits where the IF1 and Biplanes are hangared. This area offers unusual access to both aircraft and pilots.

Caption: Dasher and Ruby post race
Credit: Anthony Taylor

Super Sport

The rules were changed this year to create a larger differentiation between Sport and Super Sport. Super Sport will no longer be limited to production kit airplanes and anything that has been properly tested and signed off is eligible as long as the engine is less than 1000 CID. This won’t produce any new designs for this year, but they think it will keep the class innovative for the future. Also, any fuels short of liquefied uranium are legal. (That’s direct from their class President – who is a comedian in the off season, fyi)

This year’s Super Sport entries include returning Super Sport winner Jon Sharp. His camp has been very quiet during the off season. After a spectacular qualifying session in 2008, what will he have up his sleeve for 2009?

Darryl Greenamyer attended PRS to renew his racing license for 2009. His team is working the bugs out of his geared 550. He was very fast at PRS, but he expressed dissatisfaction. He wants more, as always, Darryl is always very competitive.

Caption: Greenamyer will be back with Race 33
Credit: Marilyn Dash

Kevin Eldredge will be racing Relentless again this year. Much to his fans dismay, his souped up, fire breathing V8 Trace engine won’t be ready in time.

John Parker, as everyone knows, is working furiously to get his new Blue Thunder (Blue2) ready. We are all pulling for him. If you remember, the original Blue Thunder was lost in an incident right before Reno 2006. George Giboney flies the other Thunder Mustang, Rapid Travel. He was very fast at PRS and ran all week without even a slight glitch. He will be a solid contender Sophomore Racer.

Caption: George Gibony in his Thunder Mustang, Rapid Travel
Credit Steven Edmundson

Lee Behel bought Roger Claypool’s geared 550 powered Edge, Cyrano. He hopes to get it running fast enough to not get lapped. The airplane is a test bed for the engine and if things work out there will be more plans for the future. As always, we wish Lee great luck with his endeavors and appreciate his input to this column.
Team Driven will be in attendance with a Suburu Powered Lancair IV-P. This is another test bed for new technology with veteran test pilot Dave Morss in the driver’s seat.

There is a lot of anticipation around these new technologies. I am very excited about the future of Super Sport and what it means to the future of Aviation.

Sport Class

Lee Behel will be back in Breathless, the Beluga Lancair Legacy. Another fan favorite, we hope she is back to take the Sport Gold.

Jeff Lavelle has installed new pistons and other secret modifications this year in his Glasair III. Gary Mead was running very strong at PRS and will definitely be a contender in his Glasair III Lucky Mojo. Dave Sterling had an “epiphany” at PRS and finally got his engine to run right. He did a practice start and got over 300 KIAS down the chute and was ebullient upon landing. He is a sleeper, but may have something up his sleeve.

Tom McReynolds has been making steady progress on his Turbo Legacy, Poky. By refining both the airplane’s performance and his own he will be another force in the Sport Class. Pete Zacagnino is planning to bring an all new Turbo Legacy the fight this year. With Pete’s engineering background the airplane should be fast.

Can’t close without mentioning mild mannered Tony Crawford from Florida who has stunned everyone with how fast he can get his fixed gear Venture “Quick Chick” aka Chicken Little going during his grudge match with Jim Vitale’s SX 300. During the Sport Demo Race at Golden West this summer, Tony let it slip that he is completing an all new retractable gear Venture with a new race motor. He is liable to be the surprise of the season.


The T-6 Class is always filled with veterans. And this year, they didn’t have any PRS attendees. This is good, and bad at the same time. While they are flying with the same teams they have been with for years, attendance is down.
Notables in attendance include the champions from 2005, 2006 and 2007, Al Goss, Nick Macy and Dennis Buehn. Other notables missing from the list this year are both Dwelle Family entries, including last year’s Gold Champion, Tinker Toy.

Another notable that will not be in attendance is friend and competitor Gary Miller. Gary was tragically lost in an accident last month while practicing for an air show performance. He was flying Mystical Power. Blue Skies and Tailwinds, Gary; you will be missed.


The big news in the Jet Class was touched on last month. The Dehavilland Vampire being flown by Pierre Wildman is the coolest thing to hit the Jet Class since the Purple Fouga. The Fouga will be back as well as the two L29s with the Super Viper Engines. The remainder of the field will be the L39s which we have grown accustomed. Joe Gano’s Viper powered L29 will likely be flown by retired Astronaut and veteran racer, Curt Brown and the other L29 will be flown by Red Bull Air Racer, Mike Mangold. These two have a long history and are always very competitive.

While many people had written off the Jet Class, they are the fastest growing class at Reno these days. I hope they gain additional fans this year. They deserve it for all the hard work that goes into bringing these burners.

Caption: Pierre Wildman in his Vampire
Credit Jarrod Ulrich


Now… you ask, what is going on the Unlimited Division. Since it is “Silly Season” and lots of stories are flying around, I will tell you only what has been confirmed.

Rare Bear has a new paint job again. Hopefully this will be her last. The colors are distinctive and modern. I believe you will be surprised and she will grow on you. Nothing new on recent mods, but the three blade prop has been seen in excellent condition in the hangar. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Caption: The New Paint will be likely be a hit
Credit: anonymous

The Brown Air Force has all been sold to Lewis Aeronautical, the owner of Glacier Girl and Rare Bear. At this time, we know that Glacier Girl will be in attendance, not to race – but she is amazing to see in person. We are hoping for Bossman to make an appearance. Not confirmed, but I believe there is a good chance. Now, will Bossman race? I don’t know yet – but will let you know when I do.

Czech Mate was at PRS trying out some new modifications they made during the off-season. Sherman Smoot was fast and I mean wicked fast when he was on the clock during those practice days. The numbers we saw put her easily 20 mph faster than her previous best qual time. That little darling may be a giant killer again.

Caption: Sherman Smoot testing modifications made on Czech Mate
Credit – Marilyn Dash

Dreadnaught and Argonaut are both back in the skies after both went nowhere with engine problems in 2008. The Buick will be a contender in the gold once again. It will be nice to see them both back and a happier Sanders’ Family portrait.

After threatening retirement yet again, Howard Pardue will be back. Nelson Ezell will be flying Fury and Howard flying Bearcat. The real fun is to see who will steal Grumman the Monkey again this year. Who would do something like that? I think I might know, but I won’t tell.

The Sea Fury parade continues. Riff Raff is back, as is Sawbones, Spirit of Texas and Thibodeau’s Sea Hawk.

Dan Martin is bringing his Ridge Runner III. If you remember last time he brought her, he fought hard for the Gold in 2005 and ended up blowing the engine. He qualified in a basically stock P51 at just under 443 mph. He is making some changes and is throwing the number “465” around. Look for shorter wings and a racing Merlin. And hopefully, a happy Dan Martin.

Voodoo already has her new engine and canopy in place. And her 2nd year race pilot, Will Whiteside has been building his Fighter Time not just in Voodoo, but in the Collings Foundation Mustang as well. He will be flying Steadfast and Voodoo again this year.

No sign of September Fury, September Pops or Dago Red. Sorry folks. But, we do have a bunch of exciting new aircraft that will likely be chasing Tom Camp in Air Biscuit in the Bronze. Doug Matthews will be bringing his darling Corsair which he had at PRS. What a sweet machine. He may make it into the Silver, depending on the speeds he will get this year.

Caption: John Curtiss Paul in his P40
Credit: Steven Edmundson

John Maloney and John Curtiss Paul will be in the air with (most likely) two P40’s. And Bruce Wallace will be racing Jack Strehl’s T-28, The Bear.

Two highly anticipated aircraft on the initial registrants list include Jimmy Leeward’s Galloping Ghost. There are a few pictures flying around with the engine on her and new paint being applied. It would be great to see her make it there this year. Jimmy will also have Cloud Dancer. Good Luck, Jimmy and Crew – hope to see you with two in September.

Another long awaited rookie racer is Wildfire. She is on the entrant list again, but not enough good news is circulating for this to be a safe bet. I would love to see her there, but am not putting my hard earned money on it at this point.

Caption: Steven Hinton, Jr. with Strega at PRS
Credit: Marilyn Dash

Now, I have saved the best of 2008 for last. Strega has had some minor changes and one major one. Tiger has indeed retired (as of today, at least) and Steven Hinton, Jr. will be the new driver. He was at PRS and has been working hard with Tiger and with Steven Sr. to prepare. If you hear nay-sayers talking about how this young man isn’t ready, don’t listen to them. He has the pedigree. He has the teachers. And he has the Tiger. Best of luck, Stevo. I cannot wait to see you make your debut in #7.

There will be more news in the next issue preparing all of you for Reno in September. Get your tickets and your reservations now. In the meantime….

Fly Low, Fly Fast and Turn Left.
Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing
The Pylon Place