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Miss America UPDATE

ANOTHER STEP FORWARD FOR "MISS AMERICA"

click image for larger viewHer life began no doubt, in the hands of "Rosie the Riveter" —at the North American Aviation plant in Inglewood, California, in 1944.

She is a modified North American P-51-D-30NA Mustang, USAAF serial number 44-74536. Her wingspan is clipped to thirty-two feet, a mere two inches less than her length. She is thirteen feet eight inches high. Empty, she weighs 7000 pounds, but at normal gross takeoff weight, she weighs in at 9,600.

She is currently powered by a Packard-built Rolls Royce Merlin V-1650-7, a finely-tuned "stock" engine formerly capable of 1490 hp, except when tweaked for racing, where it develops 3000 hp — twice the power it was initially designed to produce some fifty years earlier.

She consumes fuel at the rate of 50 gallons per hour in normal cruise; 150 gallons per hour during takeoff. Her standard cruise speed is between 240-250 knots. Her racing speed is 420 + mph. Her range is 750 nautical miles.

In 1969, when she was purchased by Howie Keefe, she was valued at $25,000 US dollars. Today, she's a worth a cool million.

She has competed in the Unlimited Class since 1969 —a period of thirty-one years— thirty-five years if you include her prior racing history in the hands of other owners.

She is the 1994 Unlimited Class National Air Racing Champion.

She holds the World's Speed Record between Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C., a distance of 2,289 miles that she covered in six hours twenty-one minutes, at an average speed of 412 mph.

They call her "Miss America," because indeed, she is breathtakingly beautiful...

...more so, than any, long-legged contestant, who has strutted her shapely torso down the runways of that famed pageant for which this marvelous aircraft is named.

And according to Dr. Brent Hisey, her current owner and pilot, everything I have just told you about her —statistically speaking— is about to change:

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click image for larger viewAAFO: Brent, you race one of the most recognizable airplanes in the sport. Miss A has a very long and colorful history; when did you acquire the airplane and how did you first become interested in Air Racing?

Brent Hisey: "When I first acquired MissA in 1993, I really did not intend to race her. I watched Alan Preston, David Price and Bruce Lockwood race her in Reno in 1993 and 1994. I obviously caught the bug and we had to come up with a plan. MissA came with a stock dash7 Merlin, the MOF [Santa Monica Museum Of Flying] used their race engines for Reno1993/1994, so I did not have a race engine. I and my team at the time, which consisted of Larry Butler, decided that Phoenix would be our first race – in 1995."

AAFO: Your first race was at Phoenix; how did it go for you?

Brent Hisey: "We had to work within two constraints: limited budget – if we break our engine, we have no spare and no way to get home; [and] we had no experience at racing. Well, things went well and I and the engine survived."

AAFO: The engine, the airplane and pilot survived the first race and you are now probably really bitten with the racing bug… Where did you go from there?

Brent Hisey: "Next was Reno 1995, again with our stock dash 7and I believe we took second in the bronze. 1996 was stock dash7 and fortunately we won. Rick Schanholzer and Larry Butler each year decided what M.P. [manifold pressure] and R.P.M. we could hopefully run without breaking – which is a rule I haven't violated to date. Each year we gained experience and fortunately did not break, in that we still had only one engine!"

AAFO: Are you still racing with that same engine?

click image for larger viewBrent Hisey: "We finally "upgraded" and put 620 transport heads on our dash 7 lower end and that has been our engine since 1997, so MissA has essentially flown with one engine since 1995."

AAFO: You did really well last year [Reno 2000] with this setup, that was a great battle with "Rhino" in "Risky Business." Brent, we got a chance to watch your team at work during some of the action in your pit, even with the hardship of not being able to start on Friday due to the plug problem, the team always seem to be in good spirits. How important is a good team to an Air Racing effort?

Brent Hisey: "I cannot tell you the love, work and care that has been put into MissA by Larry and Greg Butler and their Warbirds Inc. crew and Rick Schanholzer, without them there would be no Miss America air racing. I feel this team has done more with less resources than any other race team. Each year we have increased the M.P./R.P.M. parameters that we felt we could safely run, as if 110 inches is safe, <laughs> and we have felt that we have been successful."

AAFO: It seems this year there are more stories coming from the race teams early on than any year in recent memory… You have gotten a considerable amount of ribbing from time-to-time for running what some people consider a "conservative" race strategy; are you making any changes…. what’s on tap for the Miss America Race Team for Reno 2001?

Brent Hisey:"What some people have called "sandbagging" was really our efforts to protect our only engine. This year will be our first with what we think is a true ‘race engine’. We bought Mick Rupp's race engine and Rick [Schanholzer] is going through it as we speak. It will be 620 heads and banks/ dash 9 lower end and blower, Allison rods and lots of other fun parts. We want to be in the Gold this year!!!!! "

AAFO: So we’re going to see a "new" competitive face on the airplane this year.. She sure looked good with the new paint job last year!

Brent Hisey: "We have done in the 420's with our old engine so I am very excited to "let the dogs out". MissA is still the prettiest girl at the dance with our new paint job from Downtown Airpark/TK Aero. <laughing> You can paint a sea fury all you want, but she's still a fat chick!! <continued laughing>

AAFO: I can’t wait to see and hear the new setup! One more quick question before we let you go Brent: There is a flight simulation coming out modeled after the Reno races, "Xtreme Air Racing" Miss America is in it, she looks and flies absolutely fantastic in the simulation… have you gotten a chance to try your hand at it yet?

Brent Hisey: "I Haven't flown the racing sim and I’m looking forward to giving it a try."

AAFO: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Brent, we’re looking forward to seeing you at Reno 2001 "The Race Odyssey" as well as hoping we can actually fly with you in the "virtual Reno" soon!

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As we move ahead to Reno 2001 "The Race Odyssey" — the "plot" indeed — thickens!

Reno 2001 BE THERE!

Interview by: Wayne Sagar
introduction by: Mark S. Daniels

click here for event and ticketing information

"Miss A" Photo History
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