The Furias Crew has been working hard to just be ready for Reno this year. But they are not content with parading around the sticks. They are here to upset some P-51s. Furias is powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-4360 - that is 28 cylinders of huge horse-power. What a beast! On brute power alone, Furias wins ... but you have to cross the finish with checkered flag flying on Sunday to be the winner. Furias posted a 462 mph qualifying time. That is good enough for 5th and a bye until Friday.
The other unknown was here last year, but we never got see her let loose. That is The Galloping Ghost flown by Jimmy Leeward. The Ghost never had to wind it up last year until the final, but the final was canceled due to high winds. Jimmy Leeward comes into the week very confident. He says he has a few cards to show us and will let us see the Ghost's potential this year. He qualified 4th at 465 mph but many feel that speed is just a teaser - enough to hold on until Friday.
What about Steve Hinton Jr. busting out a 499 mph qualifying run! Wow, Steve is here to win and win big. Team Strega is well aware of the competition out there this year and they do not want to be catching up to anyone during the week. They are out front and want to stay out front. Steve is an awesome young man with top flying skills. He is very approachable even though he wrenches on Strega and is very popular with the media. You cannot help but to be a Hinton fan.
Will Whiteside in #5 Voodoo is right behind #7 Strega. Whiteside posted 485 and change. Voodoo's owner, Bob Button, has endured many years of heart-breaking air racing. He is ready and wants a win. His sleek purple racer is the fastest it has ever been. The addition of Bill Kerchenfaut as crew chief a few years back has brought Voodoo to top speeds. Can they catch Strega? Better question is, can they pass Strega?
Rod Lewis owns many warbirds, including #7 Rare Bear. He had his team working on the Bear early this year and for the first time in recent memory, the Rare Bear team was flying well before September. In years past, the Bear has flown just before the races or even one year, the first flight in a year was during qualifying. This year is different, they are ready and qualified third place at 479 mph. Stewart Dawson took over pilot duties this year while his friend and past champion John Penney stays close by.
Dreadnought is back this year with a healthy round engine. They posted 443, but will certainly move up to the Buick's normal of 454, every day, every year. Sawbones wants to be in the Gold, but their qualifying speed of 423 might not be good enough to stay there. Will Whiteside in his Yak "Steadfast", posted their fastest time ever surpassing the 400 mph mark. Congrats to Will. John-Paul Curtis brought his newly restored P-51C "Boise Bee" to Reno this year. They are fast for a stocker, turning the course at 375 mph just ahead of Brant Seghetti in Sparky.
A special treat for us this year, Bob Odegaard has finished another racing legend. This year #74 Super Corsair is back from the Cleveland Air Racing era. This classic also has the R-4360 massive round engine which also runs seven (yes 7) dual-magnetos. Outstanding work Bob and thank you!
What a field this year. Tigercat, P-40s, Bearcats, Corsairs, Sea Furies, an FW-190, a Wildcat, Yaks, and plenty of fast P-51s.
If you like to get up early, or have to get up early, you were able to see some spectacular lineups on the ramp at 6am. Thursday was Cleveland Era day with #74 Super Corsair and #177 The Galloping Ghost sitting out for photos. On Friday #39 Precious Metal P-51R and #1 La Patrona Tigercat. You might have to patient dodging all those yellow-vested media types - ugh - they are everywhere. Even us media have to dodge ourselves as they limit the number of vests checked out and many times they are all gone :(
There was plenty of talk about this year being the year when more than one Unlimited breaks the 500 mph mark for a full race. So far, that was only done by Dago Red. With Whiteside in Voodoo pushing Strega every day, and a healthy Rare Bear and a Ghost coming out of nowhere, there was a good chance for that to happen.
No problems for the Medallion race in the morning. We had Jim McKinstry in his red/white Yak, the Wildcat, the FW-190 What da Focke, Polar Bear P-51A, and Doug Mathews' beautiful Corsair. Nice lineup. During the 1st lap of the Bronze in the early afternoon, Steve Hinton flying the pace plane called smoke from Rod Lewis' Tigercat. Seems that the oil filler cap was loose! Good thing Hinton spotted that before Rod saw it on the gauge which could have been too late to save the engine. He landed safely and the Tigercat was back in action on Friday. A surprise was Boise Bee. The Bee was moving fast and looking good around the course. Also in the Bronze, was Sparky, The Rebel, P-40 Sneak Attack, Lady Jo and Speedball Alice.
The Silver race was last of the day and had Sawbones, Miss America, Argonaut, Steadfast, Merlin's Magic, #74 Super Corsair and Precious Metal. Sawbones took first moving him up to Gold on Friday.