Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When Aviation collides with Motor Racing...

Yeah, I know we're A-L-L supposed to be frothing over Football now; Hut-Hut, SPIKE! Err, 15 yards for Encroachment! Uhm, like if IMS can have the Rolling Stones play their 'lil stadium. And Bristol Motor Speedway's gonna host Virginia Tech v Tennessee's 'lil 'Ol College Football game,

then what's next for Mother Speedway?

Once again, I'm marching; Uhm, your pullin' left again Tomaso; Hya! Yuhs know about marching to your own tune, right Y'all? As know I'm in the minority, but I really don't give a Rat's patooey 'bout the dearth 'O Pigskin's bein' tossed round right now...

Especially since we're still in the middle 'O a title chase for Formula 1; Chirp-Chirp, Bueller? Although I'm startin' to think Nico Rosberg's finally got a chance at dethroning Hamilton...

Since after all it was Thy OLD-est IndyCar Blogger, nee Geo. Phillips of Oilpressure.com fame who alerted Mwah to the fact that Mother Speedway would be hosting a new event this year, albeit 'Wayback nearly a year ago now, in December, 2015; CRIKEYS!

As Y'all know the Drill here in Nofendersville, when time has a nasty habit of speeding past your visually impaired Word Butcher. Or disappearing completely in Thy No Fenders Wormhole Vortex; SHUHZAMM! Not to mention, why can't I see the text on Thy Monitor like I-T was before?

;  now I'll confess, that when I think of Air Racing, I immediately think of the Reno Air Races, for which rookie Yank' Challenger pilot Kevin Coleman gave an interesting comparison of the differences between the Red Bull Air Racing championship vs. Reno's on a recent Autosport Radio Show interview.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKfL6CJJe6c Noting how Red Bull's utilizes (3D) three dimensional flying, while Reno's features multiple Aeroplanes just racing round in circles, relatively horizontally flat circles, albeit at much faster speeds - nearly double or more!

As it seems a long time ago now, that I read; Err listened to the following story upon my NFB Newsline for The Blind telephone service, Wayback in Spring, remember Dat Y'all? Air & Space Magazine's April-May issue of selected stories featuring a pair of highly unusual custom built Aeroplane racers chasing the ultimate speed record.

As the Dynamic Duo featured in the article above were the John R. Sandberg's Tsunami and Bob Pond’s Pond Racer.

As it's always funny to Mwah, reading about history afterwards - when you've lived thru I-T, which is exactly the case for the Pond Racer, which I fondly remember being a "Clean Sheet" design utilizing automobile racing engines unproven in aircraft application, to power its composite twin-engine design.

As the company in Questione was Electramotive, builders of the all conquering IMSA GTP Nissan GTP ZXT that Geoff Brabham drove to four consecutive championships from 1988-91. Becoming the first racecar to decimate the once almighty IMSA Porsche 962 Panzerwagon playground...

As I recall reading about these same Nissan VG30 three litre twin-turbo 1,000bhp motors being selected for the Pond Racer in my yearly subscription to Ontrack magazine, albeit featuring very little detail on the overall project's outcome. As remember, these were automotive engines being adapted for an unintended purpose, hence only producing 600bhp at sustained high RPM's.

Hence, this apparent lack 'O information now makes sense to Mwah, some thirty years on, since reportedly the late Mr. Pond wasn't exactly helpful during the project's relatively short lifespan, which sadly ended in futility with the death of its popular pilot Rick Brickert in 1993, when crash landing during that year's Reno Air Races.

Although Mr. Pond's vision for his Pond Racer was noble, as it was intended to replace the aging, overly valuable historic WWII machines being destroyed during air racing events.

As the P-38 inspired twin-tail Aeroplane came out of the very respected Scaled Composites company of Burt rutan, making it's Reno Air Races debut in September, 1991.

.But the racer peaking my curiosity more is that Tsunami, for which was hoping to ride a shock wave to success over capturing the three-kilometer (3Km) absolute speed record, after having made its maiden flight thirty years ago on August 17, 1986.

Also depending heavily upon composites, this P-51 inspired unlimited class Aeroplane was built around Mr. Sandberg's expertise. As his JRS Enterprises specialized in rebuilding vintage piston power aircraft engines - having massaged Tsunami's powerplant, a Rolls Royce Merlin twin-stage Supercharged V-12 beast to a peak of 3,800bhp!

Alas, the Aeroplane was in a constant state of modification at the owners behest, by its Lockheed "skunk Works" designers, before ultimately one of the countless modifications led to founder John Sandberg's death when ferrying Tsunami to his Minnesota home, crashing in South Dakota when landing on September 25, 1991.

Interestingly, Steve Hinton, a renowned Air Race pilot, who amongst multiple Unlimited (class) victories also set a 3Km speed record of 499mph in '79 aboard the highly modified RB-51 Red Barron P-51 Mustang that stood for ten years, before the all conquering Rare Bear' broke the record en route to becoming a thorn in Tsunami's wake.

Hinton, as test pilot had the opportunity of flying both aircraft, not to mention being given the Pond Racer programme housed at his Chino, CA Fighter Rebuilders shop after the project was acrimoniously "Yanked" from Scale Composites hands.

As A-L-L of this ultimate piston powered propeller speed chatter, or should I-T be CHAF? Makes today's Red Bull Air Racers seemingly a tad sedate, albeit slicing the Air-gates at a modest fifty feet off the deck at 230+ miles per hour isn't anything' to scoff about!

Karmically, when visiting Thy local library for some new readin' material this past September, "Tall Ruth," as she warned me one day, proclaiming she's Six-foot Three-inches tall; Aye Karumba! Said I should really check out the book her father was raving about, ironically being titled The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

Not to mention that I learned that Wilbur Wright debuted the brothers Wright Flyer at a Horse track on the outskirts of some 'lil 'Ol town named Le Mans! For its European debut over a century ago, but that's another story for a later day...