Welcome back to the Pylon Place. We are still waiting for the final numbers and participant lists, but let’s cover what we know now.
International Formula 1
In IF1 this year, lots of changes have taken place. Invictus, last year’s Gold Champion, will be flown by another different pilot, Phil Goforth. Second place, Scarlet Screamer will be raced by her new owner, Vito Wypraechtiger. Steve Temple should be back in Madness. That’s our top three from last year. The rest of the gold finishers are a different story. Sly Dog is for sale, Doug “Jethro” Bodine’s Yellow Peril is doubtful. But, Quadnickel and Outrageous will be back with their regular drivers. In fact, Lachie Onslow attended PRS to get some extra time on the pylons and hopefully this will bode
well for his efforts.
More about Goforth, you may remember him from last year. He was a fan favorite as a Rookie. Finishing only 7th in the Silver, he was better known for activities off the race course. He charmed the fans in Section 3, delighted a group of grade school kids by letting them polish his airplane. He is definitely a character and a fun addition to the sport. He will be bringing two racers this year. Invictus will be in the Gold and Knotty Girl, in her new memorial paint scheme, for the Silver.
Phil was so touched by Al Goss’ generosity and friendship last year; he has decided to paint Knotty Girl to match Warlock this year. Just for one year, before she goes through a major reconstruction next year.
Phil Goforth’s Knotty Girl will be dressed up in Warlock colors this year.
And a late entry, Gary Davis will be there in Miss USA. Since last year’s winner in Invictus and owner of Miss USA, Thom Richard moved to the Jet Class he really wanted someone to race his plane. Gary was able to step up and take the reins. Off season networking really makes the difference.
That’s the good news. The bad news is – we currently only have 13 aircraft registered for IF1 this year! It seems just a few years ago, we were turning them away at the door, now we can’t fill the seats. I’m sad to say the least, but believe that with the right programs in place, the IF1 Class will be back to its previous luster soon. Every racer I’ve spoken with has a different reason for not coming this year. Can it just be a coincidence? I hope so.
While all the classes are downsized slightly, Biplanes actually has increased their number from last year. We had such a great rookie class this year at PRS, we seem to have a great future ahead of us.
Tom Aberle and team will be back with Phantom, while Jeff Lo is bringing his speedy racer Miss Gianna back again this year. Norm Way will be there, with the World’s Fastest Pitts while Rookie, Karl Grove will be flying Dennis Vest’s old ride, Drag Racer.
Biplanes provide some great racing - you should wake up early and come to see us sometime!
Zip Andre will be there and I can’t wait to see what he has been up to in the off season. Actually – nearly everyone from the Gold last year will in attendance, including Kirk Murphy, Tony Higa, and Dave Roelofs.
The real fun will be watching the Rookies come to life and watching the battle for first in the Gold between the two purpose-built racers. Which will take the fire truck ride on Sunday? Only time will tell, or as Kerch always says – Ask me on Monday!
Look at those hard working Biplane Crews
Last year, in order to create a larger differentiation between Super Sport and Sport, the class edited the rules. 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 rule change has created some interesting entries. Team Driven is back on the potential participants list with their Suburu-powered Lancair IV. We also have the Dassault Systems sponsored Diesel NXT Racer from Big Frog Racing. This French Team will add more International Color to the races.
Both Thunder Mustangs will be there, John Parker in his Blue Thunder II and George Giboney in his highly modified Rapid Travel. John and George have put together a great group of people to make the Thunder Mustangs a great racing platform.
Kevin Eldredge will be there in Relentless. He has been quite busy in the off season becoming a test pilot and unintentional spokesperson for the Super Sport Class and the NXT. Mike Dacey should be there in Bad Intentions his Questair Venture, aka The Egg.
Kevin Eldredge's beautiful NXT, Relentless
Darryl Greenamyer will likely be back with Crew Chief, Andy Chiavetta’s help. Andy has been incredibly busy in the off-season. He completed his tenth Lancair Legacy and finished his new design, the Aerochia LT-1 , a light weight carbon fiber kit built aircraft.
Okay, now the bad news. We are short one NXT. Jon Sharp will be taking a one year hiatus. We currently have seven Super Sport participants registered. I’m very excited to see the innovation in this class and look forward to some awesome races.
The Sport Class is getting more exciting with Dave Sterling, Tom Reynolds and Lee Behel battling for first place in their Lancairs. Jeff Lavelle is looking to pass them all in his Glasair, without any pylon cuts.
Ernie Sutter and Vince Walker in their Lancairs, Tony Crawford in his Questair Venture and Gary Mead in his Glasair should round out the Gold Race.
Rob Monaghan is known to many race fans as “The Voice of the Sport Class”, but many fans do not know that he owns/flies a beautiful Glasair. Because of his occupation, he is unable to participate as a racer. However, his airplane is not under such constraints, so Rob’s plane will be part of the action this year. I’m hoping he choices me to fly it. Too late? Really? Maybe next year. Good luck, Rob.
Nick Macy and Dennis Buehn will be battling for the right to wear the Yellow Jacket but John Lohmar, John Zayac and Gene McNeely will be giving them a run for their money.
Scott Dockter will be racing both Deuce of Hearts and Margarita. Carter Clark is back, flying both Daring Diane and Midnight Rendezvous. Lee Oman is scheduled to fly Eros and Race 90. That’s a lot of pilots flying double duty this year. I hope they eat their Wheaties and drink plenty of Red Bull.
The Jet Provost will premiere this year at Reno
The Jet class continues to attract new racers with new and interesting aircraft, with 5 Rookies making it through PRS this year and a full roster ready to take the course in September. Curt Brown and Mike Mangold will likely be battling it out in the front again this year. A little birdie told me that Mike has done some top secret upgrades this year in the hopes of dethroning the king.
Look for some interesting aircraft in the Silver including the Jet Provost flown by Steve Picatti and the Iskra (Polish for “spark”) flown by F1 Champion, Thom Richard.
Thom Richard and the Iskra
Heather “Lucky” Penney, daughter of John Penney, will be racing #21. She is currently an F-16 pilot for the DC ANG and quite an accomplished aviator. Her team is quite supportive and should make a splash while at the races.
Yes, Strega will be back. Tiger says LD Hughes and the team have been working on “secret squirrel s#it” to make Strega go even faster. Recent college graduate, Steve Hinton, Jr will be in the pilot seat once again. They are clearly the team to beat.
Strega and Stevo Hinton will be back to take on challengers this year.
Rare Bear is ready. Last year, they were working late nights to get her flying again in time for the races. This year, they were flying in June. John Penney will be in the pilot’s seat once again. Expect to see long time Alternate Pilot, Stu Dawson, in the seat for at least a qualifying session or even a heat race. Stu spent several days working with John and has flown The Bear a few times. Both are accomplished pilots and will make it interesting in September.
Rare Bear is ready for the challenge
Dan Martin will likely be back in Ridge Runner and Hoot will be flying Riff Raff. But, what will Matt Jackson fly? Will it be Furias or Dreadnaught? Both are on the list and both are capable of Gold numbers. I guess we’ll wait and see.
Will Whiteside will be back in Voodoo. The Voodoo Team has been making some major changes to the Purple Princess. And with Bob Button as their leader and Bill Kerchenfaut watching over the mechanical bits, this will be one to watch.
Now, for some bad news, Czech Mate will not be there. They are looking to make some changes for speed and safety in the future. I hope to see her back again soon. Also, Howard Pardue apparently meant it this time when he retired. So, Howard and Nelson Ezell will both be out of the action. Also, Stu Dawson is not going to bring Spirit of Texas this year, terrible news for the Texans in the crowd.
I’ll continue the bad news by saying that Bad Attitude has been sold and Argonaut is taking the year off. And it looks like neither of the P40s from last year will make it this time.
But, there are bright spots, for example – all of the fans who were hoping to see a Tigercat back on the pylons, well, get ready, because now there will be TWO Tigercats. Rod Lewis heard your pleas and will be bringing both Here Kitty Kitty and Bossman.
There is also a FW190 on the participant list. I believe it is the Planes of Fame FW190 and should attract the crowds in the Pits. Also, John Maloney will be racing Steadfast this year. I’m glad such a talented pilot/racer will be with us again this year.
Now, before you ask, YES – Galloping Ghost is on the list and there is photographical and video evidence that she is not actually a ghost. She has been seen flying through the skies near the Minden Airport. And let me just say, the fans are THRILLED! Good luck, Jimmy!
The Canadian Snowbirds are back this year, along with David Martin. Kent Pietsch with his comedic aerobatic act will thrill the crowds again this year. Bill Braack with the Jet Car will also be there. Greg Poe will be back. This year he will be flying his Ethanol Powered Fagen MX2. Is this a nod to the green fans?
But, the star of the show will be the SIX P-38s that will assemble in the high desert in September. This will be quite an event. My understanding is every flying P-38 will be there at Reno. Now, that’s pretty exciting stuff.
I hope you can make it. As always, Ruby Red Racing is looking for sponsors to help defer the costs of participating in the National Championship Air Races. Contact me through the magazine for more information about how you can get involved.
Until next time, Fly low, Fly fast and Turn Left.
Ruby Red Racing
Pictures are courtesy of Rob "Phred" Miller and NAC/Tim Neubert