Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Times/Bad Times in The Valley of Speed

I did a little better Saturday. I made it out to Stead for two of the three big Unlimited Heats. I watched the Silver Heat 3B and the Gold Heat 3A

The Silver Heat began around 1PM and was a runaway win for the P-51 Mustang "Galloping Ghost" running 373.284MPH with Jimmy Leeward at the stick. The Ghost started lapping the other racers on lap four of six. Both Tigercats were in this race. The beautiful "Big Bossman" and "Here Kitty Kitty" looked and sounded awesome in the High Desert Sun. Shining like jewels, both of the big twins are painted in NAVY livery.

I ran errands and got a tank of gas in Reno between heats. I couldn't find a DV Cable to hook my camcorder to my DVDR/HDD recorder.

I made it back out to the fenceline an hour before the Gold Heat. As forecast, the wind was freshening. I got a real Wild West feel watching the tumbleweeds blowing by. I met the weather challenge with aplomb, and a new can of Coppertone SPF30, shorts and T-Shirt, my wide brimmed fishing hat, and a folding camp chair. I had to hide from the wind in the lee of the substation fence.

The Gold Heat began late as's the last event each day, so it often runs behind the scheduled time. But as always, the Unlimited Gold pilots didn't disappoint. Lap one began with "Strega" leading from "Voodoo", and "Rare Bear" in third. It was a breakaway for the three leaders. Things stayed this way until lap 4 when "Voodoo" pulled up and declared a Mayday.

Will Whiteside, Voodoo's pilot brought the modified P-51 onto the runway without incident. Voodoo appeared to be losing fluids as it turned onto final. The fluids were probably from the radiator spraybar I learned later on an Internet Air Race Bulletin Board.

Voodoo's Induction Plenum came apart in flight, and the crew pulled an All-Nighter replacing one bank of pistons and cylinders. A valve failed and damaged one side of the supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine.

Unlimited Heat 3A was won by Steven Hinton in "Strega" from "Rare Bear" at the speed of 473.437MPH This heat looked 100MPH faster than the Silver Heat.

Traffic was not an issue like it usually is.

I felt parched after a windy afternoon in the high desert...a human potato chip even...

I expect more of the same today. The Reno AFD says the winds could be gusting to 40MPH Sunday afternoon.

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