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North American P-51 Mustang (N2869D) - Five Unlimited Class Racers are lined up awaiting permission to take off to compete at the 2022 Stihl National Championship Air Races (aka: Reno Air Races).br /br /The four that are visible are "Wee Willy II,' "Speedball Alice,' "Dolly," and "Bardahl Special" (N2869D). There is a fifth one behind "Bardahl Special" and although I am not 100% positive, I think it is "Pretty Polly,' a Bell P-63 Kingcobra.br /* Note: All of this year's Unlimited Class aircraft are wearing a special sticker which pays tribute and remembrance to Sherman "Sherm" Smoot. "Sherm," who was the Unlimited Class President and who was registered to participate in this year's event flying Race 86 ("Czech Mate"), was fatally injured last week when "Czech Mate" crashed in California. *br /Blue Skies and Tail Winds Forever, Sherm.
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North American P-51 Mustang (N2869D)

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Five Unlimited Class Racers are lined up awaiting permission to take off to compete at the 2022 Stihl National Championship Air Races (aka: Reno Air Races).

The four that are visible are "Wee Willy II,' "Speedball Alice,' "Dolly," and "Bardahl Special" (N2869D). There is a fifth one behind "Bardahl Special" and although I am not 100% positive, I think it is "Pretty Polly,' a Bell P-63 Kingcobra.
* Note: All of this year's Unlimited Class aircraft are wearing a special sticker which pays tribute and remembrance to Sherman "Sherm" Smoot. "Sherm," who was the Unlimited Class President and who was registered to participate in this year's event flying Race 86 ("Czech Mate"), was fatally injured last week when "Czech Mate" crashed in California. *
Blue Skies and Tail Winds Forever, Sherm.

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Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
The haze in the background is wildfire smoke from the Mosquito Fire in California. About 90 minutes after this photo was snapped, racing was suspended for the remainder of the day when the smoke became so thick that visibility fell below mandatory minimums. Although it cleared up somewhat around sunset, it again intensified overnight and by the time races were scheduled to start this morning, the visibility had again deteriorated to such an extent that the first morning races were delayed.
Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
As of high noon today (seven minutes ago), all racing remains suspended due to hazardous breathing conditions and below-minimum visibility. (If the pilots can't see the pylons, well, let's just say it's "difficult' to avoid flying into them.)
ken kemper
Love this pic in wide angle Gary.......

Had not heard of Sherm Smoots passing....God Bless Him
ken kemper
Love this pic in wide angle Gary.......

Had not heard of Sherm Smoots passing....God Bless Him
Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
Hiya, Ken. And TY. This pic is actually two pics merged into one. I was lucky to be able to snap them. The wildfire smoke began blowing in from the west and the visibility began degrading so a bit over an hour later and I couldn't have snapped anything like this because it would have been too far away. And then the races were suspended for the rest of the day so there weren't any aircraft out there.

Yes, it was very sad that Sherm Smoot lost his life. He was at an airport at Bakersfield prepping "Czech Mate' for racing here. He had just taken off and was still low when he radioed that he had low oil pressure and his engine was failing. He tried to turn back but a witness saw Czech Mate going nose high and then spinning out of the sky.
I met him once. Not at the races. I met him at the Estrella Warbird Museum in Paso Robles. He showed me around. At the time, I did not make the connection that he was the race pilot. Only realized who he was after we were enroute home.
I've photographed Czech Mate several times. Posted one of my pics of it quite a while ago. Never snapped it during a race, tho. This would have been my first chance to do so.
Colin Seftel
Youtube video tribute to Sherm Smoot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BsdpCnTJus
Gary SchenauerPhoto Uploader
Colin >>> An excellent vid. TYVVM for the link. Smoot had an exceptional racing history and naturally that is the main focus of the many articles about him now (because he was prepping Czech Mate for a shot at Gold this week). But I think it is also important to recall that he was licensed to fly Boeing 727s, 757s, 767s, 777s, DC-9s / MD-80s, DC-3s, and DC-10s. And that he was a pilot with Continental for almost three decades. And that he flew Navy metal in Vietnam. Basically, if it had wings, Smoot either could fly it or could have flown it. Every bit of info available at this moment seems to indicate that when the engine seized, he tried to save the plane. He got the gear back down but Czech Mate was never going to be a glider. So he came down where no one but him would be harmed. Thanx again for the link, Colin.
Dale Tabat
In the early 1970s while in college I worked in a couple buildings to the north of RWY 26 and east of RWY 32. You can still see the foundations of them on the aerials of Stead. We had to stop working there during air race weekend because the planes flew almost directly over the building and any crash would of been let us say explosive. We warehoused dynamite, ammonium nitrate/ diesel fuel (ANFO), detonation cord, and manufactured explosives for the open pit mines in Nevada. We would melt down PETN (same explosive used in 500 pound munitions) and pour them into molds. Any crash would of left a big hole in the ground and blown out most of the windows at Stead and Lemon Valley.
Darryl Sarno
That is such a cool shot Gary! Great lineup and perspective!

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