Thursday, July 1, 2010

Speed, Angels and Rookies

Pylon Racing Seminar took place in the Northern Nevada Desert around the middle of June. The attendance was higher than expected with lots of Rookies wanting to join the ranks of Air Racers. I will do a quick rundown of who, what and where in this month’s column and expand on it once the attendee lists are out for the races.  
Everything is a moving target at Reno, except the pylons, of course. So be patient and expect late breaking news – as it always happens. Today, let’s talk about the Rookies.


The IF1 rookie race pilots this year certainly underscored the word “International” in their name.  Completing training were British pilots Peter Fabish and Stephen Alexander who will be shipping their racers over later this summer.  From Spain they had Guillermo Parodi who recently purchased Brian Reberry’s highly competitive Cassutt, N-A-Rush. And finally Swiss pilot, Vito Wypraechtiger, the new owner of Race #50, Scarlet Screamer, was there getting the feel of his new ride. 

All of the new pilots were able to get course time and did exceptionally well. The returning racers continued their international theme.  Canadian Tom Watkins flew daily on the course in his Cassutt and Aussie Lachlan Onslaw took his racer, Outrageous, on to the course to prepare for this September.

The Formula 1 races this fall will be anything but predictable with three of the top four finishers from last year either changing hands, changing pilots or not being raced. Invictus, last year’s Gold winner will have a new driver, Philip Gofroth.  Last year’s second place airplane, Scarlet Screamer, will be flown by rookie racer Vito Wypraechtiger.  The third place airplane, Madness, is still in the capable hands of veteran racer Steve Temple. While Race #3, “Sly Dog,” last year’s fourth place airplane will not race this year.  


Credit Josh Martes
Caption: Lachie Onslow in Outrageous


 Six very capable Biplane Rookies attended the Pylon Racing Seminar last month. Father and son team, Jake and Mike Stewart, flew their BiListic Biplane. Both of them will see flying time this year. Caster  will be racing Jeff Lo’s Miss Diane which means that we will likely see Jeff Lo’s Miss Gianna in September. Great news for Biplane Fans! Rob flies for FlexJet and has many hours flying skydivers over the years.

Karl Grove continues the international theme mentioned above. He’s from the UK and now resides in Southern California. He raced Motorcross in his youth and just purchased Drag Racer from veteran Biplane Racer, Dennis Vest. While we are sorry to see Dennis go, we wish him the best and welcome Karl to the team.

Aaron Burhoe, another California based Rookie also raced motorcycles and will be there in September for the first time with his Pitts Special. Eric Zine recently purchased Jeff Watkin’s old plane, Devil in da’ Skies, and will be there in his newly christened, “Motorboat” in the fall.

Credit Josh Martes
Caption: Aaron Burhoe in his new racer


The T6 Class had only one Rookie attending PRS this year. Ted Nixon is a FedEx pilot based in Memphis and will likely be joining the ranks in September. Several veterans joined in to hone their skills including Carter Clark, Dennis Buehn, Chris Rushing and Bruce Mayes. Jim Booth and Rick Seigfried did the instruction.

Tight racing is the way in T6, so we expect another good year from this class.

Sport Class

The international theme continued through the Sport Class with two Rookies from France joining us for the first time. Cristophe Delbos and Willy Gruhier will be flying a Diesel Powered NXT in September. They have been working with Kevin Eldredge, pilot of Relentless, to iron out their skills and get ready for Reno. There is a video of the Diesel NXT Racer on Kevin’s Slo Air, Inc. website – if you want to learn more.

Vicki Benzing and John Crow brought their Extras up to PRS to get certified. However, the Extra is not a Sport Class Aircraft. I understand they are looking for a competitive ride, now that they were bitten by the racing bug.

Returning racers working on their skills included Vince Walker, Tom Reynolds, and Dave Sterling in their Lancairs; Mike Dacey and Tony Crawford in their Questaire Ventures and George Giboney and John Parker in their Thunder Mustangs.

Wait until you see the spiffy new canopy on George Giboney’s Rapid Travel. It’s reminiscent of RotoFinish of days gone by. It looks like lots of little tweaks have been made during the off season by many teams. Can’t wait to see how this works out in September.

Credit: Ken Linde
Caption: Vince Walker, low and fast across the desert floor.


Four Rookies who are anything but Rookies in Warbirds, joined us for Unlimited PRS. Jay Consalvi was flying Doug Matthews gorgeous Corsair. Jay is no stranger to fame, being one of the stars in the movie, Speed and Angels. This is a film touted as the “real Top Gun” taking two young Navy Officers through their two and a half year journey from dogfights to their first wartime deployment. It’s a great film, I own it and have seen it several times. If you haven’t seen it – do so before September and then ask Jay for his autograph!

Credit: Ken Linde
Caption: Jay Consalvi with Rod Lewis hot on his tail

Rod Lewis, owner of Rare Bear was there in his TF-51 La Pistolero. He flew incredibly well and the hope is he and Stu Dawson will bring two Tigercats, Big Bossman and Here Kitty Kitty in September. Remember how you were hoping to see Bossman turning the sticks again? Now, you get TWO Tigercats. Thank Rod Lewis when you see him!

Chuck Greenhill, new owner of Furias brought his recently acquired P51, Lou IV (was American Beauty). Chuck wanted to see what the fuss was about, and he loved it! Mark Watt, veteran Warbird driver, pilot for Air Canada, Photographer and owner of Warbird Depot and all around great guy was a Rookie in Dreadnaught. The original idea was to have Mark fly Argonaut this year, but that may not be in the cards due to a chip light illumination. We are hoping that Mark gets to fly something in September, perhaps Chuck’s Lou IV. I’m quite sure Mark will find a ride. He flew a great line and had a terrific time at PRS.  


Credit Ken Linde
Caption: Mark “Rockstar” Watt in Dreadnaught

Stu Dawson has been listed as the Alternate Pilot for Rare Bear for years. He finally flew The Bear at PRS in June. He did great. I still give his first landing a 7 out of 10 although Stu scored himself lower. It was nice to see Rare Bear in the air. John Penney was there giving Stu tips and hints. It was a great time for everyone.


The Jet Class had more rookies than any other class. And, the new jets are interesting and fun to watch. Two Iskras were there and a Jet Provost named Spud. Thom Richards (of Sweden – keeping our International theme), last year’s IF1 Gold Champion attended in one of the Iskras. And Kiwi, John Kokshoorn, another IF1 transplant was there in his new L29. 

A very familiar name to Air Race Fans, Heather “Lucky” Penney, daughter of Bear Driver, John Penney was there in a friend’s L29. She flew a nice, tight course and will be there in September.
The Jet Provost, a fan favorite at PRS, was flown by veteran Warbird pilot, Steve Picatti. Although this is his first time at Reno as a pilot, he worked for several of the Unlimited Teams in the past, including Strega and Sumthin’ Else. 
The Jet Class will no longer be a L39 parade, there should be something for everyone in the class now. 

Credit: Ken Linde
Caption:Steve Picatti in Spud, the Jet Provost

Pilot Registration ended June 30th. Next month, we will review some of the happenings in the classes. I can’t wait. It’s really shaping up to be another exciting year.

Did you buy your tickets yet? Did you get your hotel rooms?

Until next month, fly low, fly fast and turn left!

Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing