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Thread: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Lightbulb TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Something about a turtledeck-modded Unlimited Class air racer that evokes images of those iconic speedsters from Air Racing's pre-WW2 Golden Era, and makes a plane just look- 'FASTER!' , (& w/this mod it usually IS!).

    When further modifications include custom-designed low-profile canopies, clipped wings w/special tips, enlarged v. tail, special cowls, scoops, strakes, fairings, fences & fillets, etc., along with a big paddle-blade prop & a flashy, colorful RACER paint job,..... you've added alot of extra airspeed just in looks!!! (And we ain't even started talkin' 'bout what's under the hood! <g>)

    To supplement the perpetual hangar-flying roundtable discussions over the merits & trophy-winning potentials of air racers - past, present & future, and their various bells 'n whistle speed mods..., I thought it might be interesting and fun to run a series of photo comparisons for reference.

    We'll launch here with a side-by-side photo roster of famous turtledeck P-51 racers, including custom (non-military stock) 'razorback' versions, that most air racing buffs are familiar with: DBD

    1. #69 Jeannie (N79111) - Turtledeck mod debut at Reno '73 as Cliff Cummins' #69 Miss Candace. (9/81 photo - Skip Holm arrives at Reno '81 to successfully defend the Wiley Sanders Team's 1980 Gold Championship won by Roy 'Mac' McClain - Jeannie's 1979 driver.) This modified Mustang racer's success inspired the creation of three 'Jeannie-clones': Dago Red, Strega, & Voodoo - w/Bill Destefani being instrumental in their modification.

    2. #4 Dago Red (N5410V) - Debut at Reno '82 w/turtledeck. Fielded by co-owners Frank Taylor & Bill Destefani & flown by Ron Hevle to win the Unlimited Gold as a rookie aircraft entry. (9/14/00 photo - Terry Bland/owner & Skip Holm/pilot). Dago & Strega represent the two World's-Fastest P-51s, with the most Gold Trophy wins by Mustangs.

    3. #7 Strega (N71FT) - Debut at Reno '83 w/turtledeck - owned by owner Bill Destefani & raced by Ron Hevle thru 1985, w/Tiger Destefani taking over the controls in 1986. What a Hot Rod! (9/16/00 photo).

    4. #5 Voodoo (N551VC) - Ex-#55 Pegasus/#55 Voodoo Chile (N6525D). Debut w/turtledeck mod at Reno '97 - qualified by Bob Hannah & raced by Sherm Smoot that year. Wing strakes added for Reno '98 & deleted for Reno '99. Currently undergoing boil-off radiator mod. (9/17/99 photo)

    5. #6 Sumthin' Else (NX51VC/N51VC) - Racing debut at Mojave '74 as Ken Burnstein's #34 Miss Foxy (N70QF) replete w/Jim Larsen-designed airframe racing mods that included an elegantly-sculpted custom turtledeck & racing canopy. Purchased & raced by John Crocker, who won Reno '76 Gold - but was disqualified for pylon & deadline cuts, & went on to win Gold at Reno '79. Last raced by Crocker at Reno '89 & Texas '90 Air Races. Rebuilt as TF-51D, w/racing canopy going to present Galloping Ghost modification for Jimmy Leeward. (9/18/88 photo)

    6. #84 Stiletto (N332) - Debut at Reno '84 w/turtledeck & radical racing mods, including belly-scoop removal ('ala-Anson Johnson' Post-WW2 Thompson Trophy era). Fielded by Alan Preston and Dave Zeuschel w/Skip Holm as pilot, she won the 1984 Gold as a rookie entry. Despite numerous valiant attempts thru 1992 for a repeat championship win w/ Holm, Scott Sherman & Matt Jackson driving - Stiletto never reached her true potential as a Gold racer. Converted to TF-51D. (9/16/84 photo)

    7. #19 Vendetta (N91KD) - Sole race outing was its' ignition gremlin-plagued debut at Reno '88 as exotic Lear 23 jet-winged turtledeck P-51 'Learstang', owned & flown by John Dilley. Qualified too-slow to make the racing field & subsequently bellied-in after engine failure at an airshow appearance. Converted to TF-51D, with airframe racing mod parts going to Bill Rogers' Miss Ashley II project. (9/11/88 photo)

    8. #5 Red Baron RB-51 (N7715C) - This legendary racer's history warrants a book! First raced un-named as Race #5 at Reno '66 by Chuck Hall, who dubbed her Miss Marta II for 1967. Chuck debuted #5 as a high-mod custom razorback at Reno '69 (Jim Larsen-designed aerodynamic refinements) as Miss R.J. - one of the most potent P-51 contenders (w/Chuck Lyford's Mustang #8) against Bearcat racing domination during the modern Unlimited racing era. Became Gunther Balz's #5 Roto-Finish Special for Reno '71 & won Reno Gold in '72. Raced by John Wright & Jack Sliker at Reno & Mojave '73. Became Ed Browning's #5 Red Baron for Reno '74 w/Roy McClain as pilot & won Mojave that year. Debuted as Griffon-powered RB-51 'Mix-master Mustang' conversion w/turtledeck mod at Mojave '75. The RB won Gold at Mojave '76 (P-McClain), Reno '77 (P-Darryl Greenamyer) & Reno '78 (P-Steve Hinton), Miami '79 (Hinton) & set new World Piston-engined/Propeller A/C Speed Record in 1979. Destroyed in crash-landing following 2nd-place finish during Reno '79 Gold final. (Reno '78 photo)

    9. #09/#38 Precious Metal (N5483V/N6WJ) - Don Whittington's beautiful World Jet Griffon-powered Mixmaster P-51 debuted at Reno '88 - showing great potential by qualifying 5th in a very fast Unlimited entry roster at 453.437-mph. Engine gremlins jinxed #09 in all its' Heat appearances & forced Whittington to belly-land on Lemon Valley's dry lake bed not far from the RB-51's final resting place. Rebuilt, PM returned as #38 to race at '95 Phoenix 500 & Reno '95 with better results. Raced in recent years by Ron Buccarelli thru Reno '07. (9/11/88 photo - Note: Not to be confused with the original Merlin-pwd PM)

    10. #38 Miss Ashley II (N57LR) - The magnificent Rogers-Levitz 'P-51R' custom-built Griffon-powered Mixmaster 'Learstang' debuted at Reno '97 & showed steady-improvement at Reno '98 before its' tragic loss w/Gary Levitz at Reno '99. Arguably the most beautiful of all exotic high-mod Unlimited Class air racers ever. (9/21/98 photo)
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    Last edited by BuckyD; 06-28-2008 at 04:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Reno, Nevada
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    865

    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Nice post Bucky!

    Wow what an impressive list of exotics we have had over the years. I look back and remember seeing every one of them race, and think, wow was it REALLY that long ago? It is also hard to believe it is going to be 9 years sence we lost Gary Levits.

    It seems the next couple of years will prove to be exciting as the past with the exotics heading our way. With Galoping Ghost, Vodoo, and the others being built.

    Thanks for the great post

    Wolfee

  3. #3

    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Thanks for the post Bucky, what a nice group of planes. I can't wait to see Voodoo without the scoop and the deck back on. I appriciate the folks racing the stockers but I believe a racer should look like a racer. Planes like these in the pictures, Critical Mass, and even Czech Mate really hark back to that vintage racer look.

  4. #4

    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Kinda makes me think...What/where would air racing be/look like if WWII hadn't happened?...D.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Quote Originally Posted by David E. Wells
    Kinda makes me think...What/where would air racing be/look like if WWII hadn't happened?...D.
    Probably something like where the Supersport class is heading! BTW, beautiful shots and great info "Bucky"........
    "Racefuel, It's not just for breakfast anymore!" http://www.twracefotos.net

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    This is my favorite one.....N335

    I just love the all red paint job.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Thanks for the photos and the history Bucky. Funny how we change with time. I hated the Red Baron in '76 (because it was a fast Mustang). Now I would give anything to see it racing. I wonder if I'll come around and miss Dago too. Not for a while yet anyway.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    More pictures!!!!

  9. #9
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    Dec 2002
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    2,000

    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Quote Originally Posted by David E. Wells
    Kinda makes me think...What/where would air racing be/look like if WWII hadn't happened?...D.
    Maybe a bit like this down the chute?



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Reno Nv
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    here is a picture of the Red baron in 1975 by my dad. shawn
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