Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Preparing for Another Great Year at Reno!

Four years ago, I wrote a column for June about the State of the Races. At that time, we were still struggling with the aftermath of the crash in 2011. The NTSB presented their recommendations and we were wading through them, trying to figure out what to do next.

Changes had to be made. Modifications had to be made. Operations needed to change. What else did we have to do to keep going for another year, another five years, or another ten years?
Reading through those old columns from that time, I realize how much we have been through and how many people were part of the solution. We are still here. We are growing and things are looking up!

Pylon Racing Seminar in June

PRS is scheduled to take place in Mid-June and we have a record number of attendees. Each class will have a nice turnout, but the Sport Class is the winner with 54 people and 47 airplanes expected to attend.  At this rate, the Sport Class will need another week added on to the event just to keep up with the demand!

What an amazing success story. The Sport Class started out in 1998, sponsored by Lancair at the time. Dave Morss won the first several years flying the Lancair Company Plane. The Class was run well and really attracted a great group of people. To go from those early days, to having the potential of 60-70 racing applications for 2016, that is an amazing success.

They are not exactly sitting on their laurels either. The Sport Class has devised a new and interesting racing segment which they are pitching to RARA and to the FAA. There will be a demo/practice of the new segment at PRS – so hopefully they will get clearance and I’ll be able to tell you more about it – after it’s signed off by the governing bodies.

Jeff Lavelle is BACK in the World’s Fastest Glasair
Thanks to 20West:Bruce Croft

Otherwise, their Medallion and Bronze races may be on the T6 course – to keep the action closer and the fans attention focused on the racers. The Gold race will likely be 325-400 mph – especially with Jeff Lavelle coming back, John Parker back in the hunt for his repeat. This is going to be great!

The Jet Class has 8 entries for PRS and is still growing like crazy. Look for new wing tips and new pilots – and even new airplanes.  

Biplanes have at least 6 attendees for PRS. Again, some new pilots and some new aircraft – and some people and planes we know and remember are returning.

Unlimited Class has several Rookies coming to PRS – and one boomerang (someone who attended PRS, never raced – and is back). The latest word is Strega may be taking the year off, but Tiger’s new Young Gun will likely be at PRS in Czech Mate! Yes!

Tiger’s Young Gun is a great guy named Jay Consalvi. I wrote about Jay in 2010 when he attended PRS in Doug Mathews old Corsair. He did great, but ended up not racing that year – or since.
Jay was one of the main characters in the movie Speed and Angels. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should look for it! It’s considered to be the Real Life Top Gun and Jay is a rock star in this movie!

I know he’s been flying Strega and Czech for several months and should be a great addition to the races. It looks like there will be a bunch of Yaks at PRS this year and maybe a Mustang or two?

Jay Consalvi at PRS in 2010
Thanks to Ken Linde

Formula 1 made some changes last year – among them putting Phil Goforth in charge of building their pilot roster. The next thing you know, they have 15 Rookies coming to PRS. He has been on the phone talking to everyone who ever thought about flying an F1, those who own F1s and haven’t raced before and everyone in between. Expect a lot of excitement around this class in September.

Final thoughts – although just 4 years ago – we thought we may have been done racing in the high desert outside of Reno, NV, we are back and we are growing and things look GREAT!
I can’t wait to hear all the stories from PRS and start getting ready to see my September Family in just a few months!

Until then,
Fly Low.. Fast and Turn LEFT!

Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing

The Pylons are waitingThanks to 20W: Bruce Croft

News from RARA - May 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

News and Reviews

As we prepare for the new season, let’s review what happened last year – organizationally – with RARA and what it means for the races – going forward.

It was Mike Crowell’s first year at the helm of RARA, the governing body for the National Championship Air Races. He joined RARA as President and CEO in February of 2015. His extensive executive experience in Sales, Marketing and Operations with the Coca-Cola Company brings a level of leadership and business acumen we haven’t seen in years.

“The National Championship Air Races is not only the fastest motor sport in the world and an event that is followed by aviation enthusiasts from around the world, but it’s a treasure for our community,” said Crowell. “Our goal for this year was to look at this event like a business and operate in such a way that would ensure it is around for many years to come. We had to make some tough decisions to get our costs in line, but with the support of our board, staff, event chairs and dedicated volunteers, we were able to turn a budgeted $630,000 loss for the year into a $100,000 projected profit, which is exactly what we needed to do.”

Voodoo awaiting the start of the race
Credit Tim Adams Photography

Preparation for the 2016 Reno Air Races is on schedule. John Agather, Chairman of the Reno Air Races Board, shared this with us.

Last year was survival. This year is stabilization. Next year is growth. We have the BEST fans in the world. I've never seen a more dedicated, knowledgeable, and loyal fan base. I think we have the largest major, motorized sports event in the world that's manned almost exclusively by volunteers. Where else but in this great country would you find that?

Actually, this should be a great year, with RARA making a profit last year. For the first time in many years, they were in the black. That is great for their survival and for setting up for the future.

The Blue Angels will be returning in 2016. This means the crowds will be even better. While over 150,000 attended last year’s event, we should see this grow significantly.

We just heard that the Wings of Blue will be part of the Opening Ceremonies this year. They are the US Air Force Skydiving Team and are quite impressive to watch.

More on the Air Show attractions in the future.

NBC Sports Special

How many of you were able to catch the Reno Air Races one-hour Special on NBC Sports? Truthfully, it was a great way to get a little more exposure for our sport. NBC did a nice job showing the highlights – of course, there is always of room for improvement.  I would like to see them lengthening the show and covering the other classes – but it definitely whets the appetites of speed lovers who were able to catch the show.  I hope they replay it over and over to get as much coverage as possible.

Air Race 1

Air Race 1 World Cup has been organizing additional races for the International Formula 1 Class. They had a successful racing series in 2015 and had planned 4 additional races in 2016. Unfortunately, they are suspending their schedule for 2016. More when we know.

National Aviation Heritage Invitational

The National Aviation Heritage Invitational (NAHI) has also decided to suspend their plans for 2016.

The Invitational is all about recognizing the excellent preservation and restoration of vintage aircraft – all in airworthy condition. This event has been taking place on the east side of the ramp, near the Jet Class Pit Area. Fans would come in and view the beautiful antiques and vote on their favorites. Later in the week, a grand trophy would be presented to the winner. It is a bit of a trek from the Pits but a great addition to the races.

One of the beautiful antiques displayed each year at NAHI
Credit: Tim Adams 

NAHI sent out a press release saying they will be suspending their event this year at the National Championships Air Races (NCAR) and did not give a specific reason. RARA was surprised to hear this – since they felt they were still in negotiations. It seems with the Blue Angels on the ramp this year; last time they flew out of Naval Air Station Fallon, space is quite limited.

RARA sent out their Press Release basically asking NAHI to reconsider. Let’s hope they can work this out. It’s a great addition to the show and many of the fans enjoy the displays.


Many more exciting things are coming. We will be covering everything leading up to the Races in September. But, this year will be worth attending. See you there!

Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing
Pylon Place

Thanks to Tim Adams for supplying this month's Photography.