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National Championship Air Races 2005

Reno / Nevada

- by Gerhard Schmid, translation by Jurgen Binnemans -

466,3 mph - that's 750 km/h. So fast was John Penney in the last race of the 2005 National Championship Air Races. For John this was his third victory and in doing this he flew Lyle Shelton's famous Grumman Bearcat "Rare Bear" for the ninth time since the start of the Reno Air Races to victory lane. One thing is clear to the fans of the popular racing team: the Bear is back!!!

Of the nine participants of the Unlimited Gold Races on Sunday, seven flew with an average speed of over 400 mph around the 8,4803 miles long course, which is marked with nine pylons. One thing becomes clear: the Unlimited Gold Race is the fastest motor sport in the world.

P.S. Flying an Unlimited Racer in Reno is not cheap. For example "Rare Bear" with her approx. 4.000 HP strong engine on full power consumes 35 liters per MINUTE! of expensive high octane aviation gas, ADI, NOx and significant liters of oil.

#5 Bob Button's P-51D Mustang #7 "Voodoo" immediately catches the eye with her very remarkable paint job. Here Bob is strapped in by the crew. The straw hat is taken off a little bit later and replaced by his helmet.
#99 The five time Space-Shuttle pilot Robert "Hoot" Gibson climbs into the cockpit of Mike Keenum's Hawker Sea Fury #99 "Riff Raff".
#5 Here Bob taxies to the holding point 08 for Qualifying. Unfortunately a little bit later he pulled out of the race after a "Mayday" due to engine problems. For Team Voodoo the 2005 Races were over before they even really started.
#99 Hoot always flies on the ideal line. By doing this he keeps a pleasant distance from the Pylons, ideal for photographers. Thanks Hoot! 423,6 mph where sufficient for the fourth place.
#20 Although Dan Martin's P-51D #20 "Ridge Runner " outwardly looks quite stock, she is nevertheless one of the fastest Mustangs in the field. Dan was 443 mph fast in qualifying. It was the third-fastest time.
#105 Beside Brent Hisey's "Miss America ", Stewart Dawson's Hawker Sea Fury #105 "Spirit Of Texas" has quite a patriotic painting. With 430,4 mph Stewart occupied the third place.
#20 In the final race on Sunday Dan pulled out of the race in the third lap with engine problems. Just before this he had an exciting race with Stewart Dawson's "Spirit Of Texas".
#8 She ranks among the fastest in the field of the Unlimited Racers: "Dreadnought" - the powerful, R-4360 28 cylinders Radial engine powered Sea Fury. Brian Sanders steered her to the second place with 448,8 mph.
race Here the duel: "Ridge Runner" vs. "Spirit Of Texas". Dan Martin's Mustang shows a clear vapor trail. It's the result of distilled water, being poured over the heat exchangers in the belly of the P-51, for better cooling.
#77 The famous Grumman F-8F2 of Lyle Shelton is being prepared for the race. The crew throws a last investigating look into the landing gear bays. The pilot is once again the experienced John Penney.
#103 The respected and last place in the final race was occupied by Fred Cabanas with the #103 "Conch Fury". For a first year participation in the Races this is a truly remarkable result!
#77 After a long period of many technical and financial problems the "Rare Bear" is finally at the top again. Here John Penney taxies to the start. With the clipping of the wings you can see that ailerons have become quite small.
#911 The soft evening light brings the colorful two-seat Hawker Sea Fury #911 "September Pops" to its right. It is one of three Unlimited Racers that Mike Brown brings each year to Reno.
#77 #77 "Rare Bear" passes the home pylon. The short wings and the sealed landing flaps are very recognizable. And also very typical the black oil trace on the fuselage.
#911 Some last maintenance work in the evening. The mechanics test everything again and again. Even the smallest annoyances are repaired. A good preparation for the next day is already half the race...
#77 John Penney was with 466,3 mph nearly 20 mph faster than "Dreadnought". It was the ninth victory of the team around Lyle Shelton with the famous Bearcat since start of the Reno Air Races. This was the third victory for John Penney.
#911 400, 1 mph was "September Pops" fastest speed on Sunday and occupied thereby the 7th place. At the stick was Dan Vance, the second pilot besides owner Mike Brown.
#77 And this is how the surface of an airplane looks, that just before flew with 750 km/h around the pylons.
#117 Bill Rheinschild has only one airplane in the Races since he is restoring his fast Mustang "Risky Businesses". With his Sea Fury #117 "Bad Attitude" he also flies in the Gold ...
#7 On the other hand the now already several years continuing streak of bad luck doesn't seem to end for Team Strega. Bill "Tiger" Destefani came well prepared with his fast Mustang to Reno...
#117 ... and Bill occupied this year the sixth place with a speed of 403,5 mph.
#7 ...but with the first test flights metal abrasion was found in the oil filter. Strega pilot Curt Brown, the second Space-Shuttle pilot in the Unlimited Class, waited patiently for the result of the examinations ...
#13 Ezell Nelson flies here with the Sea Fury #13 "Fury", the second airplane of the experienced Warbird pilot Howard Pardue, in the Unlimited Races. 414,1 mph brought the 5th place for Ezell.
#7 As the engine was opened it was certain: the bearings of the crankshaft had a defect. Double bad luck: the bearings of the spare engine originated from the same series...
race A view of the race course seen from the public grandstand. The spectators can see the entire course with its length of 8,4803 miles from here and follow the Unlimited Racers going around the course.
#7 So the fans had to be happy with looking at the six fold Unlimited Gold winner and favourite for 2005 in the pit.

continue to:   >>>Part 9



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