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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Legends over Madera and Rookies over Stead

This month we visited two terrific venues we wanted to share with you.

Legends over Madera

June started with the return of the Legends over Madera Airshow. Years ago, it was called the Gathering of Warbirds. And anyone who ever attended it has incredible stories to tell. Warbirds from all over the West Coast would come into town and the entire Central Valley would turn out to watch them. Apparently one year, nearly an entire squadron of B-25 Mitchell bombers made famous by Doolittle's raid over Tokyo, were in attendance. For some reason not totally clear to me at this time, the Gathering stopped. There were people in and around Madera that have tried to bring it back for years. And this was the year.

In four months, Joe Conway and his team did their best to revive the legendary show. The team put together one incredible event. It all started with a welcome concert on Friday night featuring Pilot, Airshow Fan and Country Music Legend, Aaron Tippin.

Aaron is a 2nd generation pilot. His dad, Tip, was also a pilot and Aaron wanted to fly at a young age. He spent some time flying professionally and was sidelined by the energy crunch in the early eighties when airlines were furloughing their pilots. He then made it to Nashville and history was made. However, Aaron’s love for flying and his constant support of Airshows and his Patriotism are legendary.

Caption: Aaron Tippin’s Concert Friday night
Credit: Anthony Taylor

The Show

We were treated to incredible static displays, ranging from warbirds and jets to home-built aircraft and antique biplanes. Rides were available in such varying aircraft as a P-51 Mustang, T-6 Texan, B-25 Bomber and a 1927 Travel Air Biplane. Bob Berwick brought his Travel Air from Sonoma and was seen giving rides to lucky Airshow attendees until sunset every day.

Aerobatic Activity included a single ship aerobatic routine with Chuck Hall in his P-51 and John Collver in his T-6, and then they joined forces for a two-ship session. This is the first time I have seen this new addition to the circuit and I am looking forward to seeing it again. Others who provided dual shows include Bill Cornick and his protégé Spencer Suderman, both giving single ship performances and joining forces later in the day for their finale. Bill Reesman MiG-17, Julie Clark T-34 and the Patriots L-39 Jet Team finished the line-up. The Patriots are currently the only Civilian four ship aerobatic jet team, and they are amazing to watch.

The show was a great success for the attendees and the performers. But the real winners are the Airshow Fans. What the Madera Airshow team did in four months is outstanding. They now have a full year to make it better. Ideas include lowering prices, more media coverage and moving the concert from Friday to Saturday night and bringing in larger crowds.

Madera Airshow - crowds were thin, but fun everywhere
Credit: Marilyn Dash

I can see the Legends of Madera becoming another “Go To” Airshow each year. Joe Conway, Stephen Davis, the Madera Jet Center and many others should be proud of their achievements of reviving a Phoenix.

Pylon Racing Seminar aka Rookies over Stead

Everyone was worried about the number of attendees we would have at Pylon Racing. Worry no more. The Racing Seminar was well attended and included some very interesting aircraft.

The Jet Class Fans were treated to the usual L39s and L29s with their hot engines. But, the star of the ramp was the Vampire. Yes, a Dehavilland Vampire Dh-115/T-11. Built in 1958, it was built by Pilatus, under contract to Dehavilland. The paint scheme is authentic to a Commander who flew the type. This is a Classic Jet and will be a crowd favorite in September, as it was at PRS in June.

PRS Vampire
Credit: Jarrod Ulrich

The Unlimiteds in attendance included two P40s, one flown by John-Curtiss “JC” Paul and the other by John Maloney. These two have incredible aviation lineage. John Maloney flew the P-40E nicknamed Sue after JC’s mom, Sue Paul. John is no Rookie to Air Racing; however the rules state if you have not flown on the course either qualifying or racing in the last three years, you must attend PRS. Watching John, you knew he was no stranger to the course.

Caption: John Maloney in the P-40E
Credit: Jarrod Ulrich

JC flew the P-40N nicknamed Parrothead due to the distinctive paintjob known as the Napier Field Parrothead. JC is the son of John and Sue Paul. They are the curators and memory keepers for the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, ID. While it was JC’s first time at Reno as a Racer, he is no stranger to the sport, or to Warbirds.

Caption: JC Paul’s Parrothead P-40N
Credit: Jarrod Ulrich

These two aircraft were used in the recent Pearl Harbor movie and are on display at the family Museum, more on that later.

Another aircraft on the ramp during PRS but rarely seen at Reno these days included the T-28. Years ago, T-28s raced at Reno in their own class. However, the last time one flew in the Unlimited Class was 2000 with Skip Holm in the driver’s seat. The minimum speed to qualify in the Unlimited Division is 300 mph, just ask Tom Camp and his Wildcat, Air Biscuit. Time will tell if the T-28 will make the cut, but it will sure turn a few heads and make a lot of noise along the way.

Douglas Matthews attended PRS last year in his beautiful P-51, The Rebel. This year, he chose to bring his Corsair instead. She was painted in Luke Field colors with Douglas’ name emblazoned on the side, with his correct title, Lt. Cmdr (ret).

Steven Hinton was at PRS practicing with his new ride, Strega. Tiger Destefani has turned over the reins to his priceless Mustang to the young man, who also comes from a fine aviation pedigree. Stevo looked great on the course and we really look forward to seeing what he can do in September.

Sherman Smoot was in attendance at PRS for the first time ever with his ride, Czech Mate. Many speed modifications were completed this year and the team wanted to see what they could do on the course. They brought their own racing fuel and when he lit the fires, several of us had him timed at 472 mph a whooping 20 mph increase over last year’s qualifying time. Some nay-sayers remarked about the lack of pylon judges on the course. I have two things to say to them. Why would they go to all the trouble of bringing Czech Mate up to PRS to test the speed mods only to cut a few corners? And, she looked, sounded and appeared to be a whole lot faster than last year. The little Yak that could may just be a giant killer again.

Adding to the mix were the instructors Stu Eberhardt in Merlin’s Magic and Dan Vance in Lady Jo. All in all, it was a terrific group of aircraft and a fine group of pilots.

Next month will be the Reno Preview Column. The Deadline for entries has us with a full field in Unlimited and Jets and a nearly full field in all the other categories. Others may join the entry list as a late entry and will be conditional.


As many of you know, I’m a big supporter of Aviation Museums. Flying museums like Warhawk and Planes of Fame are my favorites, of course.

Warhawk is having their Salute to North American Aviation the weekend of July 11-12th. They have Col. Bud Anderson on the agenda as a guest speaker. Take the family and head out to Nampa, ID to support this terrific establishment. The same weekend the Planes of Fame museum in Chino will be hosting Yak Fighters. Go to their websites to see other upcoming events.

If you cannot make it to these shows, find the local Aviation Museum near you and head over there. Bring the kids.

Next Month

Currently in the works is our Reno Preview. Don’t’ forget to make your reservations as soon as possible and buy your tickets now. We are expecting you.

Fly low, fly fast, turn left…
Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing

Caption: Bob Berwick takes a break from “hopping rides” at Legends over Madera
Credit: Marilyn Dash