View Full Version : Thanks from the "Bear" Driver

"Bear" Driver
09-27-2004, 09:33 AM
For all of you out there who have given congratulations over this forum to the "Rare Bear" Air Racing Team...a very heart felt and sincere "Thank You". All of your well wishes mean so much to this incredible and courageous team.

Many of you know the some of the history and what transpired during our team's race week saga, but some of the facts and details have become clouded in the post race excitement.

After a successful test hop and practice on Saturday and Sunday, we went out to qualify on Monday's first period. I wasn't happy with my line and lap time from that qualification and we planned to go out the next day and better the speed. Everyone knows that we found metal in the screens after that first run. Based on errant info from a Reno lab, our "Bear" Mechs went looking for a failing piston/cylinder through Monday, Tuesday, and into Wednesday. Then Mel Gregoire (who's been building R-3350s since before all of our parents were born), was flown up to Reno. Mel took one look at our screens and said: "Well...your blower drive's goin' away".

The crew toiled around the clock to change out the blower drive, and we did ground runs around midnight Thursday. AM test hop on Friday, and we went out to race. We ran a moderate power setting on Friday after which we found a cylinder down. Non-stop work by the crew through Friday night to change out the cylinder. Flight test AM Saturday, then race. Immediately after the start, one cylinder began to miss intermittently. RPM and throttle had to come way back to get it running smoothly again. Lyle and I decided I'd continue, but we fell back to third place. Crew worked past midnight to troubleshoot ignition and change out a bank of coils. Test flight Sunday AM, then get ready to race.

In the middle of our final race prep, RARA moved the Gold Race up due to weather. We weren't ready yet. After the release, power looked good and the engine was running smoothly. Moving ahead of "September Fury", I flew on Skip's wing for a lap and a half. Then short of pylon 4, "Dago" just turned left. I suspected something amiss as Skip just doesn't make that kind of error. "Dago's" pylon cut put him several seconds in front of the "Bear". I set power to keep that position, save the engine, and made sure that I wouldn't cut any pylons. During the last two laps, my ego wanted to throttle up to push or pass "Dago", but with all our engine's history during race week, our crew chief Elliott White and I decided not to risk "grenading" the motor.

Crossing the finish line first is always the most dramatic and exciting conclusion to a tight race. Ya'll will never know, and our teams will never reveal just how much reserve "Dago" and the "Bear" had in those final laps. We made a decision that secured a Gold win and preserved our powerplant. A blown engine would have devastated the "Rare Bear" program. But...keep an eye on us for next year!

On behalf of the hardest working crew I've ever seen and their understanding wives and families, I again thank all of you who have left well wishes and congratulations for the "Rare Bear" Air Racing Team.

John Penney, team member
"Rare Bear" Air Racing Team

marada mx3
09-28-2004, 10:59 AM
I don't know John Penney, but I do know that he is an A1 class act. Thanks for taking the time to let everyone know the events during R2K4. Great flying and can't wait to see another first place at R2K5.

Air Race Addict
09-28-2004, 12:42 PM
John, YOU GUYS ROCK! Thanks for the hard work and for making things "right" again. HAH! And, I think congratulations are in order for Team Miss America, Precious Metal, and everyone else who improved from last year, (especially Doctor Brent and crew). What an awesome sight on Sunday, with the wacky weather, of the brave souls in their flying machines doing what they love at serious risk to themselves and their machines, when they could have just as easily decided it was not in their best interest or anybody else' to race. Totally awesome. Kinda makes me want to get all choked up. I admire all of you and just wanted to make sure everyone gets a slap on the back for a job well done!
Most sincerely,
Bill Clark
aka: Air Race Addict :1zhelp:

09-28-2004, 03:28 PM
thanks bill, it was a long road for the precious metal crew but ron's pilotage and chris and tony's..er..crewage made it happen on sunday. i'm really glad to be a part of this team, big smiles

09-28-2004, 05:11 PM
My Dad works at Rick Shanholtzers shop and along with Miss A's crew busted tail to get that baby in the air. Lots of props to Larry and the crew, but to be honest with you, the highlight was watching Rare Bear on Dago's tail. Never been to an air race before till this year, I'm now hooked..now to explain this new sickness to the little woman.... :thumbsup: