Truckee pilot edged out of podium finish at Reno Air Races | SierraSun.com

Truckee pilot edged out of podium finish at Reno Air Races

Sunni Todd
Sierra Sun
Photo by Sunni Todd/Sierra SunJohn Penney, flying his F8F-2 Bearcat "Rare Bear," was able to win the Reno National Championship Races for the first time since 1994.
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Birch Entriken of Truckee held “Scarlet Screamer” in a solid third position for all but the end of the last lap during Sunday’s Formula One race at the 41st annual Reno National Championship Air Races.

“Alley Cat,” with a speed of 233.4 mph and piloted by Formula One rookie Jason Somes, overtook the 233 mph Scarlet Screamer for third.

In last year’s race, Entriken finished third with Scarlet Screamer, a Cassutt 111M No. 50, ahead of Scotty Crandlemire in Outrageous. Not to be beaten again by a plane he once owned ” he sold Scarlet Screamer to Entriken ” Crandlemire placed second in Formula One on Sunday with a speed of 241.5 mph.

Coming in first was Gary Hubler of Caldwell, Idaho, in “Mariah” tearing around the course at 250.1 mph, just shy of his 253.8 mph win in 2003.

To put the evolution of Formula One speed into perspective. In 1966, Bill Flack in “Rivets” placed first at 193.1 mph; in 1989, Ray Cote in “Alley Cat” placed first at 231.2 mph.

Entriken’s all-Truckee crew included crew chief Jack Suierveld, “common sense” Pat Callaghan, surface maintenance technician Jackson Callaghan (of Truckee High School) and “the eyes” Robert Todd.

“I need a fresh engine for 2005,” Entriken said. “I tried to make two races on the same engine, and it’s just not good enough.”

If all goes well, Entriken can be seen racing again in November in Las Vegas.

The big contest of the 2004 Reno National Championship Air Races had to be between Skip Holm, flying “Dago Red,” a P51D Mustang and John Penney, flying “Rare Bear,” a F8F-2 Bearcat.

The fans love hearing, seeing, and feeling the drama between these two planes. They sound tight, strong and formidable. The pilots are legends.

Rare Bear had not won since 1994. Dago Red has been winning repeatedly in recent years. Rare Bear’s crew found metal in the engine during race prep week and had to spend days and nights for six days straight to ready the Bearcat. The weather started encroaching.

Would the race be called? No. Fans paid complete attention. It looked like Dago Red took another race, with the fans left thinking that Dago Red took another race.

Then at the awards banquet hall, all the crew of Rare Bear and John Penney entered with the perpetual trophy on his shoulders. Rare Bear had won! Dego Red cut pylon 4 in lap 2 for a 16-second penalty. The hall erupted in cheers when the trophy was officially awarded.

And John Penney ” he had all the crew take the stage, and he cheered them on.

RENO, Nevada (Sept. 19, 2004) The battle for the first world title in aerobatic air racing came down to the final two pilots Sunday at Stead Field in Reno.

Finding enough extra speed, American pilot Mike Mangold (Victorville, Calif.) eclipsed pre-race favorite, Kirby Chambliss (Flying Crown Ranch, Ariz.), to win the first Red Bull Air Race World Series Championship.

The Red Bull Air Race, which made its U.S. debut at the 2004 National Championship Air Races this weekend, takes air racing to new heights as pilots execute gravity-defying aerobatics while navigating through a twisting race course of five pylon obstacles stationed just over 500 feet in front of spectators. Pilots run one at a time against the clock.

For the second day in a row, cool and windy skies provided another challenging obstacle for Mangold, Chambliss and the other two elite finalists, former U.S. Aerobatic champion Mike Goulian (Arlington, Mass.) and former World Aerobatic champion Peter Besenyei (Budapest, Hungary).

In fact, Besenyei clipped a 50-foot, air-filled pylon during his knife-edge run through Gate 3, bringing it down and incurring a 10-second time penalty.

Mangold, who piloted his Edge 540 plane to Saturday’s Red Bull Air Race USA Championship in a clean, errorless flight, also encountered some trouble in the World Series final.

Chambliss, who also pilots an Edge 540, is good friends with Mangold off the runway. But, the competition proved to be fierce in the sky. Chambliss, 45, is a three-time U.S. Aerobatic champion.

Sunday’s race in Reno served as the final championship round of the 2004 Red Bull Air Race World Series. Chambliss won the first round in the United Kingdom on June 20, narrowly beating Besenyei by a mere .03 seconds, and he also captured the second round race in Budapest, Hungary, on Aug. 20 over a stunning course set on the Danube River.

Fittingly though, the winner-take-all World Series Championship final was crowned in Reno, the worldwide home of air racing.