Crew Report - 27 Nov 15

November 27, 2015 at 9:42 AM

Everyone knows by now that we did win the Sports Gold this year so this report is more of an inside recap of the event.  The top priority for the Blue Crew this year at the Reno air Races was to set a qualifying speed of 400 MPH or better.  As the results show, we fell short of that mark by 3 MPH.  I had the choice of qualifying on Monday or Tuesday to qualify with a brief period on Wednesday as a backup time frame.  Monday’s weather was not ideal for the attempt due to cold temperatures and windy conditions.  I chose Monday with the conditions as they were because the forecast for Tuesday was worse.  As it turned out, I should have waited a day to qualify.  Hindsight is always perfect.


The entire race week went quite smoothly.  The entire crew spent a lot of time answering questions from the fans that came by the hangar, visiting with my hangar neighbors that wore our uniform shirts.  Fred, Jim, Mike and I would discuss the schedule and strategy before each race.  Mike and I would go over the pre start check list and verifying the com connections each day.  The T shirts were quite popular with the logos of most of our sponsors on the back.  Between the donations for the shirts we did cover the cost of the inventory.

The one “gotchya” of the event was that I was called for cutting pylon one in Heat 1A resulting in second place for that heat.  The irony is that the video shows that though I was darn close to the pylon, it clearly shows that there was no pylon judge at the pylon.  I did not protest the cut because the cut made no difference in the final outcome on the main event Sunday.


In each heat race we were able to keep the competition at bay by being able to break on top at the start of each race.  This enabled us to pull back on the power during the final laps to save the engine for the next day.


The engine start for the final Gold Race is “Show Time” and the culmination of all the work and preparation of the prior year.  A touch of fist pumping for the cameras after the race was un-resistible and the NBC camera crew was on the spot for their post race interview.  I hope the sweaty polo shirt doesn’t show up as such on their video. The ceremonial fire truck ride was about the only time the entire crew was all together at one time.  The pilot seat on the truck was made for a bottom a lot smaller than mine and I had to be careful not to fall off.


Winning the gold is quite nice but as always, history has shown us that fame lasts for fifteen minutes.  To make this event last forever, The Blue Crew and I have dedicated this win to the crew’s greatest supporter and my loving wife, Jan Parker.


The first question I get from anyone that says congratulations is what are you planning for next year?  The answer is that we are still in the planning stage for 2016 but one objective for next year will be to set a qualifying speed of at least 400 MPH.  Setting that milestone will be a big boost for the Thunder Mustang community and for American Air Racing.

Right now we are in the process of modernizing and updating our air show engine for more reliability with new pistons, pins, lifters, valves and bearings.  These new parts were not available when the Thunder Mustang engines were originally built.  The net advantage of these changes should be more reliability, a more efficient engine and possibly a little more horsepower due to the increased efficiently and extensive dyno tuning for the MoTeC M-48 ECU program.  After we have been able to test the results of our engine update, we will put together a package to offer to other Thunder Mustang owners who wish to upgrade their engines.

For now, have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas season.

John Parker

Tags: Reno Air Races 2015
Category: Crew Reports

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