And the Action Begins!
Have we been keeping on top of things or what! Every aircraft that we had reported on earlier as attending this years event was listed in the Official Reno 1998 Unlimited Entry List. I was just about to strain my arm (in an attempt to pat myself on the back <g>), when I got to the bottom of the list and saw that there was something not anticipated. A report received from one of the unlimited competitors confirmed this. Had we overlooked one of the most competitive entries in the class? Well, no .. sometimes things are a surprise, and in this case - a most pleasant one indeed. This particular aircraft is one I have personally been looking forward to seeing return to the pylons since I last saw it compete in 1993. The object of much hanger talk and speculation, Bob Yanceys old mount Perestroika returns to Reno 98 under a new name - Czech Mate......
|If you are new to the racing scene (or have a memory like mine <g>)
then a bit of history is in order. Arguably one of the most unusual warbird types to have
ever taken to the pylons, the Yak-11 two-seat advanced trainer was made
available to the racing fraternity in the late 1980s as "Glasnost" began to
reform eastern Europe. Their pervious owners were desperate for hard currency and the
little Yak trainer appealed to racing people because they were adaptable, rugged and
cheap! Originally powered by an ASh-21, seven-cylinder radial, of approximately 750
horsepower - the racers knew that this airframe screamed for more power.
Bob Yancey was one of the first to see this and seized the opportunity. His Yak-11 trainer featured extensive race modifications, including a metalized fuselage, low drag canopy, American systems, and a powerful race modified R2800 mounted up front. With well over 2,000 horsepower available, Yancey's diminutive Yak-11 first appeared at Reno 1988 as race #101, Perestroika, and immediately began turning high lap speeds. Looking far more like a traditional racer than its rivals, Perestroika was the first Soviet airplane to have an impact on American air racing..
|Each year thereafter the little Yak-11 racer increased its speed into the
mid-400s, achieving a top average race speed of 439.543 mph and placing 3rd in
the Gold Unlimited Class Race during its last outing at Reno 93. This is truly
amazing performance for what had been a WWII training aircraft. Yancey had obviously
learned how to make a big engine work in this little airframe. One could only wonder how
much more speed was still left in the trim little trainer.
This potential was never realized as Bob Yancey retired from air racing shortly thereafter. We were left to wonder about what could have been but never was. This racer, like many before her, just faded away into the past. In late 1995, Perestroika was sold to Flight Magic, Inc. We have heard little of this aircraft since then.
|So just what will Sherman Smoot and Czech Mate have
to offer the competition for this years event? If there can be one thing said, it is that
the R2800 under the cowl of Czech Mate will be in top racing form. In charge of the
race preparation for Czech Mate is Larry Klassen, the same person responsible for
heading up the work on Eddie Van Fossens "Miss TNT" which dominated the
T-6 Class for many years. Larry has more wins under his belt with "round motors"
than anyone at Reno, past *and* present. That coupled with a tried-and-true airframe will
definitely put this team within striking distance of the competition. One thing is sure,
shell be there this year to reassume her former place as one of the top Unlimited
Gold Class competitors!
Admittedly, to think that shell be able to hold her own against the likes of Dago is a stretch - but who knows what will happen. One thing is certain . Reno 98 is shaping up to be one hell of an event and with this latest bit of news, its getting better by the moment <g>.
Stay tuned there is still more info yet to be released on the Unlimited Class racers that the AAFO staff is currently preparing youll not want to miss it! Trust me <g>
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