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Reno Unlimited Gold Winners - 1964 to 2023

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  • #31
    Thank you for the pics to go along with the stories.



    • #32
      Originally posted by wingman View Post
      I think this was the arrival. This airplane always drew a crowd... Click image for larger version

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      Yes, you are correct! I so enjoy your pictures very much. We didn't all have a camera on us back then so everytime I see one of your pictures it jolts my mind back in time. Thank you for joining the party.

      John Slack


      • #33
        Great pics Neal. Bravo.

        1980 was definitely an interesting and dramatic year - particularly with the Phoenix-like comeback of Jeannie from a takeoff accident six days prior to the races. Dave Zeuschel had been doing a test flight on Wiley Sanders' gorgeous Super Stang at Van Nuys when on-takeoff #69's carburetor misbehaved badly forcing Z to land nearly straight ahead in a cornfield. Damage was massive but Mac McClain was determined to get Jeannie to Stead somehow. Mac talked to Wiley, got the go ahead and a historic thrash began. Folks in the pits aware of the drama never expected to see Jeannie make the races that year. But at 12:59 am on Wednesday Sept. 10, 1980 he appeared overhead of Stead... with one minute to spare before the arrival deadline.

        Mac & Jeannie would go on to win the championship race that year - a feat virtually no one apart from Mac thought was possible. Our father was there with the team for the whole thing - from Z's belly landing in the cornfield to Mac's victory after a duel with John Crocker in "Sumthin' Else" winning at a new race record speed of 433.01. The full story is told in Dad's book, "Gentlemen, You Have a Race".

        People took notice when Lyle and the Bear showed up too. By that time Lyle and the airplane were two-time champions and everybody on the ramp was keenly aware that the pilot and the crew were racers, not just participants - even if it had been four years since their last appearance. John gives you insight into their struggles.

        As he indicates 1980 was turning point for Rare Bear. The long road from the mid-1970s doldrums to howling success by the late 80's got rolling after Reno 80'....

        As a side note, Rare Bear wasn't the only Bearcat on hand at Reno 80'. The Whittingtons were there with three airplanes including "Precious Bear", their F8F-2. Of interest for those following Miss America's saga this year is the fact that Miss A was on hand for Reno 1980 as well. But flying duties were split between Howie K and Charlie Beck. It was also Dan Martin/Ridge Runner's first outing at Reno, seven years after Danny had picked up a hitchhiker named Ormond Haydon Baillie on his way to the races as a spectator in 1972... Another great story.

        There was lots of drama... There was the Jeannie story, Lyle's return, and the return of ABC's Wide World of Sports... They'd been on hand and filming the year before when Steve Hinton went into the desert in the RB-51. The ever-puffed-up Jim Lampley was the TV network's host again with Indy Car star "Lone Star JR" - Johnny Rutherford for those not familiar w/that nickname - as co-host. Some of you may remember that Rutherford owned and flew a P-51 himself.

        1980 was also the year that Hoover had a problem w/his Mustang while bringing the Saturday Silver Heat to the start. Chuck Hall - the pole position runner - ended up bringing the racers down the chute after Hoover May-dayed and landed.

        I have one deep, air racing history question for Mr. Slack...

        Did you "go into town" and get a haircut?

        Jan =


        • #34
          Great fun for a young photographer -- a target rich environment...

          Click image for larger version

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          • #35
            Another great image. Neal's photos give you some idea of the rougher, oily condition of the Bear at his point. The airplane bore some scars. John can expand on that I'm sure.



            • #36
              I love these pictures!!! The big money paint scheme that's been on it most of the Lewis years is sexy, but the older schemes, especially when streaked with oil and carbon after a race, are badass! My favorite look is the orange and white of the early 90's


              • #37
                My favorite paint scheme, the different shades of purple fallowing the exhaust streak.


                • #38
                  This is an incredible thread. Thank you John, Jan and Neal for your invaluable contributions!
                  Zac in NZ