by: Mark Kallio
|RENO NEVADA Sept 9, 1997-
Hello to all you air racing fans...... from "RENO"! The weather is looking great for air racing with temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s, humidity hovering at about 18%, and partly cloudy skies. This is the forecast till at least Saturday (tomorrow and Wednesday the humidity will be higher), well be sure to keep you updated as time progresses. Given this type of weather and if it holds for the entire week (knock on wood) - were sure to see some blistering qualification times and exciting action as the week progresses.
Whether you get here on Monday for qualifying, or only come for Sundays extravaganza, the first day is always filled with anticipation. On the way to Stead airport, you keep wondering who and what will greet you after you pass through the gates. The anticipation builds as you approach the pit area and catch your first glimpse of the aircraft silently sitting there - awaiting their turn at bat. Your pace quickens as you walk through the pit gate and the heart beats faster. I have to admit, its a feeling that one can best describe as awe inspiring. It has been a 365 day wait, and now all the waiting has come to an end. THIS IS RENO BABY!!!!!!! As I walk though the pits, I gaze at all these magnificent aircraft, just like thoroughbreds - these planes inspire something that just cant be put into words.
So <catching breath> ........on with what Im sure your reading this article about in the first place. Whos here!? How fast are they going!? Well, I hate to have to tell you, but most of the time today the unlimited class was doing "pilot qualifications" with little speed runs. The speed runs that were done, were not posted at the press trailer nor announced. So I cant tell you anything besides the splendorous sites to see and glorious sounds heard.
Gary Levitz was there with the new Miss Ashley in all her glory. The new paint really sets her off and goes well with the modified beast. Although to the best of my knowledge she didnt make her speed run, all eyes were on her as she started the engine and taxied to the runway for the pilot quals. Along with Miss Ashley (also pictured on front page), the Thunder Mustang (pictured above) garnered the crowds attention. The little aircraft (3/4 of the size of a P51) looked like she was outclassed from the start. But the power of the Faloneer V12 proved more than enough for this aircraft to be a contender. The sound this aircraft made while taking the pylon course was reminiscent of the Pond Racer, more akin to an indy car racer than a Merlin powerplant. Then there was Rare Bear, Strega, Furias, Dreadnought, Fury, Critical Mass and as a matter of fact, all the ones previously mentioned in my "official" entry list (save Baby Gorilla).
I had a chance to chat with Vlado Lenoch [see previous article -ed-] after he made the cut (pilot qualifications). He said his aircraft was performing very well and he was really looking forward to the speed run tomorrow. I was very happy to finally put a face on the individual that gave me the time and opportunity to present the competitors perspective to our readers. He was a very personable man, and I promise to keep bringing you more on this "first timers" experiences at the races. On a related note, it was very apparent that the "Blue Nosers" were making this competition a team event. It's great to see this kind of cooperative effort develop.
Perhaps the best part of the day occurred at approximately 1:00 P.M. when the unlimiteds took the course - and take it they did! At one time I counted 20 aircraft overhead, taking off or on the race course. The sky was filled with WWII heavy metal, and for this race fan - its a site that Ill never forget. Everywhere you looked there were planes. The sounds of Merlins and radials filled the air. It was *better* than great!
On a closing note, while walking to the pit area I happened to glance at a Formula I trailer. On the back of it, these words caught my attention an I thought Id pass them along
this trailer there is a disease there is no cure for...
Well, I think that virus has spread beyond the confines of that particular trailer and Im happy to say - Im as sick as the rest of you <G>.
Cya in the pits,