|We've been holding off on much
speculation this year till the day when "the
list" was made public... I believe it's time to sit
back in the chair and throw out a few ideas we've been
kicking around for the last few months.
Let's start with some of the more "unexpected" entries we see here today...
Alan Preston: IN A ZERO!! We're used to seeing Alan bring the Museum of Flying's Bearcat and P-51... both notably absent from the list. The MOF Bearcat is up for sale presently. We're not sure, but believe the P-51 has been sold or is also for sale, explaining these non-entries on "the list." Look further down and you see Alan's name again.. in a T-6! No question.. R2K will bear fruit for all who make the pilgrimage this year! Wow!
Bruce Lockwood: Though the word has been that Bruce was done with Air Racing.. I'd keep my eyes open for some of the "retirees" to come back into the sport in "stock" entries in the future... This looks like the first in this trend that we've expected to see and a welcome surprise it is!
Skip Holm: No surprise here that he's in the Dago Red seat.. but a T-28!? This one slipped by us completely... Wonder what is up the sleeve in that one! Bears watching, as I'm sure that Skip didn't enter it just to have a "wing to sit under" for the races.... hummn!
Sam Richardson: Returning with his Yak-11 under a different name or... maybe a "typo" on the list.. but good to see him continuing with the airplane in competition at any rate.
Holbrook Maslin: Bringing his Yak-11 "The Night Witch" 'which' was damaged just prior to Pylon School, keeping him from bringing the airplane there for qualifications... He is scheduled to get his "pilot qual" ride from Art Vance on Sunday prior to race week along with Voodoo's new driver, Darryl Greenamyer.
In the "Welcome Back" category--
Sherman Smoot: Skillful piloting and the gods being with him, kept Sherman Smoot from harm and the airplane from severe damage when his engine failure forced his "high and fast grab for the runway" during the Saturday 1998 Gold Heat Race.. This year, the airplane has a newly reworked engine by her Crew Chief, Round Engine Guru, Larry Klassen. Further work has been done to the airplane by the "speed gods" at Tiger Destefani's shop at Shaftner CA... NO telling what to expect from Sherman and this entry... The airplane has demonstrated fair speed potential in the past and with the new engine and other mods.... Keep an eye on this skilled "pylon skinner" !
Furias: This one is one I've wanted to see really bad! I love the guys on this team and wish them all the luck in the world... but they had a lot of work ahead of them when the airplane was ferried up to Everett for race prep work and lack of contact with the team (we don't answer phones when we're reallll busy) indicates they are VERY busy with the airplane... Watch for new paint, if time allows and a chance to see Art Vance show his stuff again on the course in a role he usually is the instructor for... RACE PILOT! Doubtless the airplane will appear in race ready condition but watch for speed potential tapping in future years; there has simply not been enough time since she went North for the guys up there to have done a lot to Lloyd Hamilton's old Sea Fury...
Miss Merced: We're not sure which of her co-owners will actually take her around the pylons. With Jim Michaels listed on "the list" as pilot, this choice is not immediately clear. Last word had the duties being shared by Jim and his partner, Stephen Bolander, in this VERY photogenic, Flame Red and BRIGHT yellow operation.. What can she do? Hard to say... but the airplane sounded VERY good at Reno during the "New Guy School" sessions in June... (this thing absolutely BARKS when she taxis!)
Bearcat: Howard Pardue, badly damaged last year at Oshkosh, this entry did not see action in 1999. Does Howad have her ready again? WOW! We've seen pictures of the damage, it was not minor, this will be a welcome airplane and the only Bearcat in the field this year if Pardue is able to bring her back!
On the "Who To Watch" list within "the list"
Skip Holm: Dago Red.... Primed polished and ready? Last word has her waiting for the race engine from the "Merlin Man" Dwight Thorne... What does this do to the speculation here on the "spec sheet"? It makes us sit back and scratch our heads... There's good and bad in this as we see it.. Good in that Dago is getting an engine job and will see competition freshened and ready... Bad in that there will not be a ton of time for testing this new power prior to Reno... FIRMLY on the "Who To Watch" list we will sit back and wait till race week for further speculation on Dago Red and Skip Holm's chances for a shot at the gold..
Tiger Destefani: Strega... Tiger's last year, new engine, fierce competitor; in much the same boat as Dago as far as engine work in progress. No question in my mind... Tiger will be there and be ready for a very challenging year of competition!
Tom Dwelle: Critical Mass.. Now here's one where I can get myself in trouble... I'll shoot from the hip on this one.. I've been around the engine, heard it smelled it, seen it. Ain't no question in MY mind... Tom Dwelle and Company bear keeping a very keen eye on. They have had the new power in the airplane for over two months... Have time on the new course... ample opportunity for "quiet time" both with the airplane and with the new motor. They have one of the most capable crews anywhere in the sport... My call here.... <ducking from the rocks thrown my way from all around> Keep an eye on Tommy! Tom likes to keep a low profile and I respect this, but.... This ain't no Silver Class airplane...
Darryl Greenamyer: Voodoo. We were not sure whether or not to put Darryl on the "welcome back" list or here.. But he surely deserves to be on both! Team Voodoo has worked all year to prepare the airplane for competition and are nearly ready for flight testing, with none other than D. Greenamyer at the helm! A new engine from Jack Hovey and a different power strategy on this setup, place them firmly in the "to watch" list!
Dan Martin: Ridge Runner. I'm not going to say much here but... The airplane is coming to Reno with stock wingtips... and I doubt anyone is sure what will be "under the hood" this year. There is nothing that proves either way yet just what Dan's strategy is, or if stock wingtips might just be the wave of the future. Dan's got a very fast airplane, reports are that he is not going to push her this year... Stand by and watch is all we can say on this one.
Brian Sanders: Dreadnought. Not much to be said. Kick the tires, check the oil and bring her to Reno! This powerhouse is ALWAYS there in the pack. There has been engine work done on the airplane this year, no doubt that Brian and his BIG airplane are primed and ready to "be there" ready... waiting....
The Rest Of The Pack
With no intention of slighting any of the competitors who work so hard, year round to come to Reno but in the interest of not boring everyone by making this entry into the "spec sheet" too very long..
I'm going to sign this one and push it out the door. There is mucn more to come in this "spec sheet" series. There are many more stories to be told and fat to be chewed in this one! Tons of Sea Furies and several very capable other entries make the Gold Silver and Bronze Class races potentially some of the closest and most interesting we've seen -ever - even closer than last year's Sea Furious Battles that were so incredible to watch..
And damned if this is only scratching the surface of ONE CLASS! There are so many stories in ALL the classes that it boggles my very easliy boggled mind!
So Stay tuned for more action and more guesses from all of us sitting on the edges of our chairs here today digesting this VERY interesting list for Reno 2000!
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