Reno Air Racing: Thunder mustang Update!



In exactly 27 hours, the AAFO.COM Inside Air Racing "go-team" will take one last look around the deserted office, make, at least, five mental checklist run-through's to try to remember that *one* REALLY necessary bit we've managed to leave behind ....again!.... this year =8-P then, head out Reno-Bound! Yes... It's that time again RENO 1999 is HERE! (at least for those of us heading down for the pre-race week) Tonight's update will be the last for a few days, as we make the trip and settle into the Cruise America, AAFO.COM, Inside Air Racing, on-location HQ for 1999. (do we sound like a race car driver trying to get ALL the sponsor info in in one quick sentence? :)

So many changes to the face of Reno this year make it difficult to assess just how the event will transpire. For sure, the reappearance of some old favorites will certainly speed up the pack! The return of Strega and Rare Bear, undoubtedly, will liven up the already close competition for the coveted Gold Plaque.... Likely, last years first and second place racers, Dago Red and Dreadnought, will be right there nipping at the heels of the "old" favorites as well.... Or will they lead the pack?.. Or.... could we see someone from the rear find something and come up to take over the favorite slot?

The changes in the Unlimited course layout throws into the mix a totally unpredictable variable, one so exciting we can hardly grip our seats dealing with the anticipation. Just what does the movement of the key upper pylons mean? NOBODY KNOWS!

The AAFO.COM, "Inside Air Racing" team will arrive at Reno, Sept 11th to begin our coverage of the pre-race activities. Keeping you up-to-date with just what is going on in the "worlds fastest motorsport"..... AIR RACING!

AAFO.COM's Reno corespondent, Mark Daniels, has been keeping an eye on the action for us during the long off-season this year. Mark's location, in the Reno area, allows him to keep an eye toward just about anything that goes on out at the former US Air Force base, now simply known as Stead. Mark tells us the dry weather this year has kept the new fire bomber base, located at Stead, quite busy this year. (watch for an upcoming feature by Mark on this very fine service) He also has been checking in on one VERY rare warbird undergoing restoration at Stead (feature to come later this year) ...OK... Back to what'cher here for... .AIR RACING... Mark checked in yesterday... As of Wednesday, September 8, 1999..... Wampus Cat is on the scene.... Rare Bear is there and looking really ready for action.... Also on scene: F-1 Race 92 "Yellow Peril". Pilot, Eric Matheson, "wringing" out a newly installed set of piston rings. Matheson hopes to get the rings seated properly negating the need to install completely new jugs. Daniels reports that Eric is currently down 300-400 rpm with the "not quite" seated ring-set... Also on the briefing list with Daniels.... The weather has been quite hot and dry... possible T-Storms were being watched for (not good news for either the fire service *or* race pilots and crews, hoping to get some time on their mounts prior to the opening of the course on Sunday..... Stay tuned for further reports from the AAFO.COM-Inside Air Racing team. On-Location at Stead Field! (note: this will be the last update of the site until after we settle in at the Cruise America-Inside Air Racing HQ at Stead..... But there is MUCH more to come! STAY TUNED!)
There are several airplanes, that, without their presence, Reno, is simply, not Reno. Dr. Brent Hisey's beautiful, patriotically painted, P-51 Mustang, Miss America, can certainly be counted in that group. Brent checked in with AAFO.COM's "Inside Air Racing" and gave us this update: "Miss America" will be there Thursday" Never clocked as a slow airplane, what might we expect from this crowd favorite in the "fast is good, faster is better" department? "[we've] cleaned up [the] airframe a little, hopefully [it] will hold together another year. No telling about the speed this year". Already sporting quite a few aero mods, the addition of an airframe "clean-up" should make this 1999 Silver Class winner a major favorite for another round at the trophy stand!
[1998 finish: 1st -Silver Class- 414.202 MPH]
One of the best looking entries on the ramp, this R3350 26WD powered Hawker Sea Fury "conversion" (converted from a fixed wing fury) made her first showing at Reno '98. "Teething" problems with the new racer kept her pilot, Robert "Hoot" Gibson, from fully unleashing the potential of this red and white beauty. Changes to the induction system, as well as the water injection system, will bring a faster entry to the 1999 Reno event. A prop change was in the works, but Riff Raff owner and relief pilot, Mike Keenum, informs us: "We did not get a new prop on in time. We will race with last years model." As with all race teams during the last push to Reno, the Riff Raff crew has their hands full. Mike tells us, the airplane is making good power, but a blown prop governor a few days ago did slow progress a bit. He assures us they will be there and in good form for Reno '99. Pilot for 1999? "Hoot Gibson is still on board." said Keenum.
[1998 finish: 5th - Silver Class - 376.116 MPH]
We're sad to report that long time Reno participant, Lefty Gardner, will be unable to bring his beautiful white and red P-38 for the last run of the millennium. A spokesperson for the White Lightnin' team tells us... "There are some major problems with one of the engines that we thought would be solved by now, but realistically, at this late date, it's not going to happen." Since hearing earlier that Lefty had the bug to bring the airplane for the 1999 event, we've had our hopes up around here. Seeing his name on the entry list was very encouraging... But alas, it is not to be. Word is that Lefty will be there for the event this time.... Maybe next year we will see this exciting team of man and machine back together again!
To this day, I still can hear Sherman Smoot taking a quick breath in his oxygen mask, then tersely saying the chilling words: "race 86 mayday-mayday" ..... Sherman's YAK suffered substantial damage on landing after this event. We talked to him earlier this year about how repairs were coming along. "The YAK will be back at Reno this year! Engine is going to be done soon and the minor wing damage is getting fixed. Lucky the YAK is so tough. Fuselage is basically done.... " What else might we see different on this really mean looking airplane? "Some minor mods......Looks as though we are going to lengthen the prop blades about 6". That should really improve efficiency."
[1998 qualifying speed 423.459 MPH]
[Updated- 09/08]
When we last reported on this newly modified entry, the MA2 team had their hands full getting the airplane readied for flight to the EAA gathering at Oshkosh. Little time had been available for actual testing of the newly added systems to this VERY fast looking racer. Miss Ashley II builder and co-owner, Bill Rogers, reported to us recently that the flight to OSH went without a hitch and she gathered much attention at the EAA show there. Preliminary testing on the new cooling system design showed promising results (details are closely guarded, of course:). Planned installation of a very interesting interactive telemetry system has not been without a hitch or two. Problems with the supplier of the originally planned for system, have relegated this modification to the "Plan-B" mode. As mentioned earlier here, numerous improvements to this airplane should not only make her look much better (we've seen her and trust me.... This airplane looks GOOD!) she, likely, will open a few eyes with her performance this year.
Latest word from the MA2 camp: Bill Rogers checks in with the following information- The water systems are in and working well, the complete paint job is finished and there will be a slightly different "look" on the tail of MA2 than in our latest look at her. They're "down to painting ground equipment" said a smiling Rogers. The airplane is due to arrive in Reno on Friday and will begin testing with Pilot, Gary Levitz, at the helm of this much modifed entry! Basically re-built from stem to stern since last year... this airplane is red hot and ready for action!
[1998 finish: 4th- -Gold Class- 411.645 MPH]
Last year saw this slick entry get even slicker with the on-site addition of a "lowered" canopy. This canopy has seen some mileage on other airplanes in air racing history, but is not a thumbs-up favorite of the pilots flying beneath it. At last word from Inside Air Racing correspondent, Mark Daniels, Risky was already at Reno, with a "stock" canopy mounted. Will we see the reinstallation of the slicker "dropped canopy" this year for the races? Stay tuned for further updates as we gather more information.
[1998 finish: 3rd -Gold Class- 420.572 MPH]
Ed note: Though "Risky Business pilot, Bill Rheinschild, did finish one place higher than did Gary Levitz in MA2, he was not able to get around MA2 in the race. Fearing debris from another aircraft was hitting his racer, (later determined to be a bird strike) MA2 pilot, Levitz, was forced to cut pylon 4 in an effort to avoid further damage. His penalty for the cut reduced his official speed, thus the finishing order.
The hard working staff at Nampa, Idaho's, Papa 51 Ltd. had high hopes of making the 1999 Reno Air Races event the debut of the first supercharged Thunder Mustang, this will not be the case. We've mentioned the race against the clock by all "Reno" teams..... demon time ignores none, and time simply ran out for Papa 51..... This year. Do not be disappointed, Reno '99 *will* see a "Thunder" in the event! The Tommy Rose, naturally aspirated, T-Stang (pictured at left) will be a major favorite in the Sport Class field.
[Best Reno speed for the T-Mustang: 338.271]
(1997 qualifying speed for the original factory prototype)
Last report from Team Strega had the engine almost installed and flight testing scheduled for the following week... A spokesperson for Team Strega sends us the following update on the team's progress toward Reno '98.... "Strega is flying faster than ever and ready to win again at Reno. Strega has a new awsome look this year. The Team Manager "L.D." Hughes has really pulled off another great paint job. We are all looking forward to another great year at Reno."...... Strega is known for pulling out the stops during qualifying as is Rare Bear...... New course.... awesome competitors.... goose bumps on this writers skin! We can hardly wait!!!!!!
[1997 finish: 1st -Gold Class- 453.130 MPH]
(did not race last year due to damage incurred at 1997 event)
Seeing both this airplane and her owner/pilot, Tom Dwelle, come back to Reno for the 1999 event, warms this reporter's heart. Damaged in an incident at Reno '97, this is one entry we like to keep our eyes on. As with most all of the teams, the midnight oil is burning brightly in the Dwelle hanger. A pesky carb problem finally solved, puts the airplane in flight status, ready for testing! With so many changes to evaluate for this year, look for this airplane to be fairly well entrenched in "test mode" for the event.... *BUT*.... Without a doubt, she'll be a fast entry... How fast? We'll sure let you know! Watch for on-site coverage of the race week at RENO '99!
[1997 finish (DNF) '97 qualifying speed 403.006 MPH]
Coming Soon: Sandy Sanders out? Who will announce the race this year? ---What's up with VOODOO!?--RARE BEAR!?--- AAFO.COM's "inside air racing" Reno correspondent, Mark Daniels, lets us in on who's on the ramp at Reno now? Plus the latest from your favorite teams of:
..the worlds fastest motorsport..

Notice to race teams and interested parties If you have information for this progress report...
email us and we will get it on the RENO '99 UPDATE SHEET



The 1999 Reno National Championship Air Races Will Be Held September 16-19 At Stead Field, Reno Nevada. Qualifying and Practice Events Run September 13-15 And Offers Some Of The Most Exciting Action Of The Entire Week. For Ticket And Lodging Information go to:

[home][air racing][photo gallery][general-military-history][links][news][sims][site map]

copyright 1999 Airport Fence Productions, Inc.
-All Aviation FlightLine OnLine-
Reproduction of any part of this website,
without prior permission, is forbidden.