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Discussion Starter #4
cool stuff, Tim....wish you would share the back stories.. ;)
No problem, here you go.

All of the cars are from Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The first two are of the Ford GT. The going away shot is tough. Not seen by the human eye, the taillights cycle on and off. The camera shutter sees it though. I had a ton of shots with one taillight lit, or both out, or both dim. I finally nailed one. The other three are Prototype Challenge cars. A spec class started in the waning ALMS days as field fillers. I never pay much attention to them being a spec class, but I love to shoot them since you can see the driver at work. This was the last race for the class. No more open top cars in sportscar racing.

The black and white shot is Voodoo, in Idaho. I was invited by the pilot Steve Hinton Jr. to watch them go after Rare Bears 528mph propeller driven record. The problem is that for aviation records like this you have a one-month window. I had only 3 days of unused vacation left. There is a great story here about all it took to break the record.

http://vintageaviationecho.com/voodoo-speed-record/


If you read the story you will see that Voodoo did not break Rare Bears record by the 1% they wanted, and they blew up the first race engine setting the record. Unfortunately, due to other supervisors on vacation I was not able to get out to Idaho. I knew they still had almost 20 days left in the window however. I get a phone call Saturday afternoon Labor Day weekend. I'm told, the second race engine is going in, and they are going for the record again on Wednesday or Thursday. My ass was on a plane to Idaho early Tuesday morning after Labor Day. It would not work out though. I never saw the plane fly in Idaho. You can’t just take a race Rolls Royce Merlin and pour the coals to it. It needs a 60” manifold pressure flight, it needs a 100” MF pressure flight, after that the entire valve train needs to come off and be inspected. The smoke was so bad from all the wildfires that visibility was less than 1 mile. It was IFR and they could not fly. So I spent two days watching them work on it, and took the pic above when they did an engine run checking if they had fixed a crankcase oil leak.
The races at Reno were coming though. They had to be in Reno the Saturday after Labor Day. I flew home to Chicago Thursday, worked Friday, then I flew to Reno for race week on Saturday. It was a crazy week. The smoke cleared enough for them to get out of Idaho, but they never put the power to it until they got to Reno.

The other shots are from race week in Reno. One is Strega on a Monday morning dawn patrol. The other is Strega taking off Wednesday to qualify, Voodoo and the P-40 are from pylon 2.

The Unlimited Gold final was EPIC. Strega and Voodoo, two pilots with the throttle bent all the way forward for all 8 laps. Voodoo was ahead until pylon 4 on the 8th and final lap. I was at pylon 4 for the final. In this shot you can see Voodoo and Strega coming up on slower traffic the Sea Fury 924. Jr. in Voodoo, stayed low and outside and Jay in Strega you can see starting to go high in the pic. He went high, dove down for speed over the top of both of them and passed Voodoo. Strega won by just over .5 seconds. 481.340mph to 480.744mph. It was the most amazing damn thing I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Voodoo had some issues I can’t disclose the last two laps, if not for this I don’t think Strega gets around them. They both pushed the living daylights out of the Merlins. Voodoo flew home on Tuesday after the races. Strega needed an engine change and just flew home last week. It may have been the last great race. Voodoo’s owner said they are done racing, if they are, Strega stays home too. No competition, no need to show up.

Voodoo wants the record by that 1% bad though, and rumor is they will try again next year. Jr. already told me, head on out to Idaho if they do. I have 4 days open next year for just in case!! Right now Voodoo is at Planes of Fame in Chino, CA.



And here they are together from pylon 8 on Saturday. It was just unfreaking believable watching these two duke it out.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
As a side note, all three race Merlins were built by the same shop and the same guy. Two for Voodoo, and one for Strega. Jose Flores from Vintage V-12's in Tehachapi, CA. Mike Nixon is the shop owner and has passed all his knowledge on to Jose. If you want to win Reno in a Mustang and the fast guys are racing, you can't win without a engine from Jose.
 

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...great stuff, Tim. The saying "a picture tells a thousand stories" only holds so much water. A good narrative only adds to it. Thanks!!!
 
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