Reno Air Racing: Thunder mustang Update!

Nemesis String Broken


Reno, Nevada -Thursday, September 16, 1999-

The 'Nemesis' String has been broken

by: Birgitta C. Nurmi

Since the Reno National Championships Air Races in September 1998, Ray Cote has been working in his back yard garage making a number of modifications on Race Number 4, "Alley Cat", his Formula 1 race plane. He reduced the drag on the tail by putting in new fillets, and smoothing the edges. He redesigned the cooling systems for both the oil and the engine. He installed a brand new propeller, bulkhead and spinner as well as a new exhaust system. New fillets were put in the propeller blades and the wheel pants as well as the landing gear were checked for drag. The engine was fine tuned and a new air scoop provided improved air flow to the carburetor. Cote's efforts resulted in an increase of 10 miles per hour in his qualifying speed. These modifications, combined with Ray Cote's legendary flying skills, may well have been the deciding factor in Cote's winning today's heat race and leaving Jon Sharp's Race Number 3, "Nemesis", behind him. Cote is the first race pilot to break the highly successful Nemesis team's winning streak of 44 races.

The eight lap race was very exciting. Cote took the lead right from the start. Cote commented: "I don't know what happened to other people. I was just flying my own race". During the last three laps, Jon Sharp in "Nemesis" started to pick up speed but it was not enough. During the last lap, there was a tight moment. Cote had to lap two other planes. One had changed altitude by climbing. Cote could not pass him on the right because that would have put him over the deadline and would have disqualified him. He could not go lower because that would have put him lower than home pylon which would have also disqualified him. Cote could only go up which caused him to loose speed. However Sharp faced the same predicament and also must have lost some speed during the same maneuvers.

The finish of this race was very close. Alley Cat maintained a distance in front of Nemesis and crossed the finish line first. The crowd at Stead Air Force Base, site of the Reno National Championship Races, cheered and applauded the winner. Cote also received an unexpected standing ovation from the other Formula 1 pilots and crew members when he returned to the Formula 1 hangar. This show of support from his peers deeply touched him.

Ray Cote is a man who loves to win. He has an exceptional history in the Formula 1 class, as he has won more National Championships than anyone in the history of Air Racing. He has also won Reno Championships in more different airplanes than any other pilot in any class. He has been racing since 1966. The crusty, graying, energetic Ray Cote is totally dedicated to the sport. He is known for his sense of humor, although his penchant for practical jokes is not always appreciated. He is a legendary fixture in the Formula 1 hangar together with his beloved wife Gladys.

May he win many more races!

ed's note: This story will be updated with photographs as soon as they are processed and can be added


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