Statement Regarding 2014 Unlimited Gold Championship Race

National Championship Air Races

Reno, Nev. – Sunday, Sept. 14 concluded what was one of the most competitive National Championship Air Races in recent histories. Throughout the week, nearly 120 pilots, across six classes of airplanes, thrilled fans with racing that was intense and extremely close. Unfortunately, the results of Sunday’s thrilling Breitling Unlimited Gold Race have been called into question by some fans and pilots. Five-time reigning champion, Steve Hinton, won his sixth National Championship flying the P-51 Mustang “Voodoo.” Sherman Smoot and his Yak-11, “Czech Mate,” finished in second place. Unofficial race results had Thom Richard finishing in third place in the P-51 racer, “Precious Metal.” On Richard’s second lap, the Contest Committee Judge responsible for judging the East Showline ruled that Richard had crossed the showline. This is a violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations and, according to official race rules, results in disqualification. This led to Dennis Sanders and “Dreadnought” finishing in third place.

 

According to the official race rules the ruling on a showline cut is not open to appeal. The Contest Committee Judges are positioned on the showline and have a clear view of the aircraft position and flight path relative to the showline. Due to the lack of calibration and standardization in the placement of cockpit cameras, cockpit video is not normally reviewed by the Contest Committee. In this case, the Contest Committee did review the aerial cockpit video from Precious Metal and determined that it clearly shows the flight path on lap 2 to be east of all the other laps flown.  RARA works very closely with all six race classes, as well as the FAA, to ensure a safe and competitive event. And, as a National Championship event and the only one of its kind in the world, RARA is committed to working with all of its race officials and the class organizations to maintain the integrity of each race result. RARA has integrated new and advanced technologies into the timing and recording of the event and is committed to work with the FAA and the appropriate race classes to evolve race rules to maintain the highest degree of objectivity and accuracy in each and every race. We very much appreciate the support and engagement from all of our loyal and dedicated race fans. It is with their help that “the world’s fastest motorsport” will continue far into the future. # # #

113 Comments

  1. That’s too bad for Precious Metal, but rules is rules…

    Good Luck next year, Thom!

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  2. If he was disqualified on the second lap, and he is being DQ’d for safety reasons (overflying the Showline), the pilot should have been immediately told to pull up and out of the race. Why let him keep racing hard if there wasn’t a chance he would finish? Doesn’t make sense… This is sad for air racing. It happens once a year and a guy is DQ’d for flying wide over the desert. The team comes all the way from Florida, spends a TON of money to entertain us and gets a BS call. How about focusing on a better inspection of aircraft on the ground and make sure they comply with regulations, i.e. Galloping Ghost.

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    • Would RARA, the FAA or the insurance companies please explain, to those who are posting negative comments toward you, how the new rules have improved racing safety? Aside from confusing the pilots, line judges and spectators, had these rules been in place in 2011, Galloping Ghost wouldn’t have been permitted to cross the snowline without facing disqualification… Safety is about insuring the planes are air worthy, the pilots are well trained, confusion is minimized and communication is maximized. When PM wrecklessly crossed the snowline on lap two he was immediately disqualified and promptly removed from the race right?

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      • Dale Kepler: Galloping Ghost had a terrible and fatal accident as the plane suddenly snap rolls right into the grand stand. It was a mechanical issue with the plane at full speed and I can’t say if something was overlooked at scrutineering. PM wasn’t reckless, rather the oposite actually. Thom made a text book overtake in the narrow corridor. There was no commitee who called this – only one person said Thom was over the line and nobody has anthything to say about that. There is video from Thoms plane which is so good RARA could use it in training pilots how to do it. To make things worse, the judge for this line should not even consider if a move was to avoid a mid air collision and the course is placed in such way the raceline push away from the home pylon and up against this line. A passing plane has the floor up and can’t see he is being overtaken so it’s up to the faster plane on the outside to react. That’s what Thom was doing.

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        • Robert: Thanks for clarifying my obviously lame statement. I am a life long air race fan and know about the high level of skill these air race pilots have. Your statement is exactly what I think. I was just trying to point out how silly the DQ of PM was. Thom an crew are among my favorites. I will only come back to Reno if they do. Your friend in racing!

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    • This comment in bad taste. Although the efforts of the race team are commendable, the safety of the entire concept is at stake. It is a good call, and making reference to an earlier disaster is just plain contradictory.

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    • I totally agree with the last part of your comment. If all these new rules are to prevent a re-occurance of the Ghost accident, then the FAA should start at the beginning and not the end. Maybe a simpler inspection program of the airplanes would be in order? These are aircraft and having an imaginary line will not stop one from flying wherever it is going to go do to a mechanical failure.

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  3. They are all the best of the best. Congratulations to all. Saturdays race was unbelievable. Looking forward to next year!

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  4. Your ruling is bullsh-t and you know it! So you have a line judge, big deal, how are we to know that he is not bias or in fact incorrectly viewing the course? You need cameras to take the human element out of the equation. Line judges are people and can be bought off or make mistakes, camera simply captures what really happened in real time. If you “RARA” are going to stand behind your DQ of Precious Metal then we the fans ” The ones who make these races possible” want the proof! I for one feel that there are entirely to much politics in this sport and wimps with no backbone are making decisions without properly researching all possible outcomes. I fear that this sport is not long for this world if RARA does not wise up and start putting racers and fans first instead of your own asses.

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  5. The bottom line is that the course in its current form is unracable. The unlimiteds cannot maintain a safe race line, especially when passing. Both Tiger’s race and PM’s race would have been ok under the old course rules. The knee jerk reaction by RARA and the FAA have killed the races.

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    • I agree. They need to push back against the FAA.

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      • If it flies then its under FAA Rules …

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    • I must say this was a race day to be remembered. These beautiful men and women and there flying machines. If you know how fast Voodo was running think how fast Strega was running to catch him at the finish line.
      See everyone next year !

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  6. This well crafted piece of PR does not actually say that the judge was correct, nor that the video supported his decision, just that the flight path was further east. Your decision is just another nail in the coffin for “The World’s Fastest Motorsport.”

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  7. If only one judge called it, and the other judges didn’t see it, then I’d say the judge was wrong.
    Looking at the video I can see he got close, but I can’t tell without more analysis if he went over, but again, only one judge called it? And you can’t contest it? If multiple judges had called it I’d be okay, but with only one, I’m not. Where were the other judges? Why didn’t they see it too?

    You need to get better control of these things RARA, if you’re going to go so hard core on the rules, then you need to set up telemetry so you can PROVE the claim. At the very least invest in a few Cameras so you can prove if a judge is right or not. And don’t make things ‘uncontestable’ because then you only need one dick to screw everything up and turn people off.

    Attendance is still down, and doing this to Precious Metal, and DQ’ing Tiger before that, those all looked like very questionable calls, not clear infractions at all. It looked like amateur hour. If you don’t want fans and air teams bailing out of the event, you need to get your act together. This was NOT well done, not at all. Maybe the rules were broken in those two cases, but you haven’t proven it to the fans, and we’re not inclined to just take your word for it without some evidence.

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    • I agree with this post. If you – RARA – had proof, you’d offer it. Instead, you have the judgement of one judge with no supporting evidence. Shame on you, RARA. If you want racers to keep racing, you’ll fix this. As is, I may not return (I’ve been attending since 1981).

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  8. I am a new comer to watching air racing this year. I became interested in it because of PM. I’ve been sharing posts in an effort to get others interested. Sorry I wasted my time. I’ll be on my way.

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  9. I’ve been to the races at Mojave, and the sport of these events is being deteriorated , but with respect to the RARA, I can understand the new rulings and it is all in the interest of safety, but , I pay for racing, and not judgmental calls with-out back-up proof of those calls with the new safety standards. If the rules are changed, so should the observation of those rules. Amen !

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  10. This is a shame. We were so excited on Saturday for Strega and then Sunday for PM. My partner has been following the air races for 20+ years, this is the first time he has been able to fly from the otherside of the world to attend. Not showing proof to disqualify a participant in any event is ridiculous. It’s especially important when it is an invisible line that is the disqualify factor. As a fan of the air races this to me this statement says whoever the judges want to do well, will. Next time we will definately reconsider supporting an organization that doesn’t support the pilots and their teams who keep it going.

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  11. GPS tracking on all entered racers would have solved this dispute before it began. It’s 2014, you geniuses.

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    • I thought so to, but read elsewhere that the sampling rate of civilian GPS is too slow to work well here. remember that it was built to help guide a craft moving more or less is straight lines. The available civilian systems will not support tacking of this kind.

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      • I have a 10hz GPS receiver I use on my race bike. That’s 10 updates per second. Cost me $100. Should be a fairly easy system to implement for RARA.

        At the very least, there should be multiple judges deciding course infractions, and there should be no penalty if there isn’t agreement by a majority of judges. The fact is, Precious Metal wasn’t called for any infractions during the race, and the race was called “Clean” by racing officials at the time of the race. So why DQ them 4 hours later? Something doesn’t pass the smell test here.

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  12. It’s been my dream to attend the Reno Air Races. But since Amateur Hour with the Judges botched things up I think I’ll spend my time an money at a more professionally judged event. Like maybe a local fair demolition derby.

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  13. Do better next year or just pack it in and shut it down. The way Strega and Precious Metal were handled was extremely disappointing. Work with your pilots to revise the rules for next year and just maybe you can salvage the races.

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  14. With all the injustice in the world, this one can be rationalized by the only review board that truly counts…the fan, enthusiast and spectator base. There will be many more forensic accounting on this race… Thom and the crew raced their hearts out along with all the field and fellow teams. But something tells me there is a lot more heart left in the team. Let’s see what happens next…

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  15. The judges do the best they can do and being human can make an error in judgement. If this is a critical violation resulting in disqualification then there should be a camera, calibrated, positioned and running during all races that can be reviewed to either confirm the violation or over rule it taking human error out.

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    • I wholeheartedly agree. I’m still kinda new to the air races (this was my fourth year out there, and I hope to be present for the 100th anniversary), but I think there are multiple judges for each pylon. Why not multiple judges for the (more critical) show line?

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  16. I agree, Yes we had a bad accident in 2011, I was there…. Horrible…

    But, with that said you bent over to the FAA who don’t know CRAP about what these pilots have to do to
    control those planes…. YOU RARA need to fight back and if you need our help out here come year after
    year we will be there.. I agree with the 1 judge decsion… You said the cocpit camera showed he was farther
    East than all the other laps… HOW FAR WAS IT…. IS THE BORDER SPRAY PAINTED ON THE GROUND SO THE
    PILOTS CAN HAVE REFERENCE? I don’t think so…. This year we had less people, and less in between acts to cover
    the down time of racing… Not Good… Ive been coming to this race since 1985… Also, NO SHOW PINS… HOW
    MANY THOUSANDS OF DALLORS DID YOU LOSE ON THAT ONE? I can’t believe you let that happen… Yes, die
    hards like me will order 1 or 2 when they come in… RARA is screaming no money….WELL get your act together…
    And AMEND THE RULES WITH THE PLILOTS IN MIND. We are so far back from the line now you need binoculars
    to see the race… Oh yeah i have donated to you may times to help keep this race going…

    SHAPE UP AND GET SOME BETTER MANAGEMENT IN THERE….

    Yancr Go Section 3

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  17. I agree wholeheartedly with many of the commenters. For any single disqualifying event, there should be, at a minimum, two judges that can rule someone in violation of the boundaries (vertical and lateral). Especially for a boundary violation, there should be a camera that can be reviewed.

    Also, if someone DQ’s, they should be required to climb up, and exit the racecourse, rather than continue to push their engine(s) at 100+” of Manifold Pressure. No person wants to blow an engine, especially after you’ve raced an entire race having been DQ’d on Lap 2!

    Get it together, RARA, or you are going to lose the very thing that most fans want to see…Unlimiteds. True, the growth is in the Sport Class; however, the attendees want the Unlimiteds and YOU know it, as there isn’t any build up for the F-1/Biplane/T-6/Sport Class Gold races like there is for the Unlimiteds. Don’t forget the hand that feeds you!

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    • Here is my question. What is the pilot doing the passing supposed to do if the plane being passed is near the edge of the deadline? You have to go wider to still keep the plane you are passing in sight, since they don’t allow passing on the inside. So I guess you should just fly near the outer edge of the course, then no one can pass you without breaking the showline. This just makes no sense to me!

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  18. I have to say, for RARA to actually make a statement about this must mean there are countless of people that are dismayed about the DQ. When there is this many people raising their voices even after watching the video one must ask what the reason for their uproar is. Clearly the voices of the masses must be heard. Pay attention and listen RARA. Stop holding on to the little pride you have left and do the right thing. Your statement only strengthens the fact that it was NOT a DQ. You have lost my respect.

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  19. I’ve very carefully overlayed and reviewed the youtube video from the cockpit camera, The Live Air TV footage of the race and my personal video from the stands. According to what I see through triangulation, there is no possible way the “Committee” can conclude that PM was out of bounds. In fact, on that turn, PM was inside Dreadnaught when and where the infraction was purportedly made.
    Clearly, there needs to be major rule changes if the races are to continue. It’s very unfortunate for RARA to be in this situation, however, it’s worse for the fans, the races and a fantastic racing team to be damaged once again.
    What took so long for the call to be made? It should have been minutes, not hours. Makes me wonder…
    I believe RARA owes the PM team an apology and some sort of compensation for the mental anguish and loss of funds. The line judge made a mistake, it’s human (I’m assuming it was an “error” in judgement and nothing more) . How RARA has addressed this issue could be catastrophic to the races. Sure seems to me that there are a lot of old and new fans that are truly upset about this.
    It’s another nail in the proverbial coffin of the National Air Races. It is also a black eye for the city of Reno. Other issues from the races have been talked about and have put a bad taste in the mouths of many regarding the races and Reno in general. It’s really too bad.
    Good luck to PM, Thom Richard and the crew. We are behind you 100%.

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    • Some have speculated that the call was mistaken and that it wasn’t PM but could have been another silver plane (which would be Dreadnought)

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    • David, you commented that you shot your own video from the stands. Is there any possibility that you could post it to youtube? It might make the case stronger if we, the masses, could also have a different viewing angle. Thanks for your consideration.

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      • Rich… Many think the showline in question is that one that parallels the runway and the home pylon. That is not correct. Look at the chart. The showline, the East Showline, in question is located East of Pylon 2 and is not visible from the stands. It’s located near those homes for debris scatter clearance. It’s also a short showline of 1,303 feet in length and should require 2 judges or cameras minimum with 3 preferred.

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  20. Your news release reveals, I suspect, far more than intended. The comment by “Josh” says it best; if this was seen on the second lap why was it not called immediately and allow Thom to at least save wear and tear on the airplane?
    A full five minutes after the end of the race the announcers were still saying there were no “cuts.”

    My personal suspician is that it wasn’t announced during the race because there are so few airplanes in the race that RARA needed PM to stay and make it look good. I may be wrong but I think PM was the only ac that actually moved up and made a pass! And judging from the comments being made on the live stream feed, PM has more fans than all the others combined.

    These folks (Thom and the team) work all year and come all the way from Florida only to be treated like a red-headed stepchild. RARA played games with the fans and needlessly risked a great pilot and a very expensive airplane.

    I can’t speak for the competitors, but RARA has quite obviously lost credibility with a very large number of fans, many of whom have vowed not to come back to the races next year. With fewer and fewer fans showing up and the potential for fewer competitors willing to invest their time and money, it could be that RARA’s poor management has finally killed the sport.

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  21. RARA, I was coming here today in hopes to read something about how you have reviewed the footage and indeed were wrong in disqualifying Thom and PM. Instead, I read a bullshit statement. You guys act like you are here to preserve air racing and ensure its longevity when in fact, you are doing everything you can to ensure racers don’t return each each. Grow a spine and fight back against the FAA instead of letting them run the races. As a paying spectator, I want to see full field unlimited racing, but since you guys still can’t figure out the purse for unlimteds, we get oinly a handful of planes to show up. Then, you decided to completly ignore what a low budget team from Florida brings to this event and DQ them over a bullshit rule that clearly was not violated. What Thom has been able to dp with a shoestring budget and great folks has been nothing short of a miracle. They had to earn their way into that last race only to have to taken from them. We all know Thom belongs on that podium, if nmot, then you need to figure a way to pay them their third place winnings. I feel we have seen Thom, his great team, and his plane for the last time. If I were Thom, why would I come back???

    RARA, pull your head out…

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  22. You basically said nothing. Good thing this isn’t printed otherwise you would have wasted some good trees. Also you silence on the real issue is deafening.

    Yes lap two was farther East, it’s called PASSING. If that pass violated some safety barrier, either the judge was mistaken (as evidence suggests in the video [by the way, what the heck are you claiming needs to be calibrated…on a GoPro?]) then my questions is why? Why is the course so tight that you can’t make a clean, SAFE, pass without then flying over an imaginary line? Stop and think for a second about what SHOULD be common sense.
    Also on the subject of common sense. Why isn’t this up for appeal? How is that possibly a good idea? Get with the 21st century (I’m trying not to assume this thing is run by a bunch of “old-farts” but it’s becoming increasingly difficult). Instant replay is the way sports events work to prevent missed calls like these from adversely affect the sport. You have the video. upload a video and point out/highlight where and when in the video it happens. If you are so confident it should be easy.
    Fix the amount of room the racers have to ACTUALLY RACE.
    Fix the method by which you disqualify someone
    Fix the part on no appeals. Again why wouldn’t you want an appeals process?
    Fix the rules on height and showlines, 2011, was horrible, but an imaginary line that gets people disqualified for making a safe pass, or in Tiger’s case flying farther from the ground(which is safer than closer to the ground) won’t prevent a similar crash from happening. All you are doing is covering your butts.

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  23. Oh yeah, hurry up and use all the money we gave you (which appears to have been a mistake) and pay Miss America for last year.

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  24. RARA,

    As a person who makes his living within the strict confines of FAA regulation, I can somewhat understand and sympothize with your situation regaurding the disqualification of both Strega and Precious Metal. But let it be known from the fans, THE people who make the races possible, you’re rules and judgments regaurding the unlimited races in question were poorly and incorrectly judged and enforced. The video evidence from the cockpit camera is telling and undeniable proof of a race flown within the tightly regulated confines of current FAA rules. The few remaining Unlimited owners and racers poor their heart and soul into a single event held only once every year. It’s only right an only fair to the racers that the rules and regulations are both written and withheld in their best interest. Thus allowing the racers to both compete and race in a manner that’s both pleasing to the fans and at the same time allow the racers to compete. It has now been proven beyond any doubt none of this is the case at hand. We the fans, those who plan for this event far in advance often taking the only available time off from work each year to whitness air racing at its finest are saddened and discouraged by this years events. Yes it’s true we saw some of the very best unlimited racing in many years thanks to the efforts of the unlimited race teams only to have it taken anyway without just cause. No one, more then us the fans want to see the races prosper and grow in the future. But let it be known, the steadily decreasing number of unlimited racers attending the event is a direct result of the now overly political and over regulated race rules. I ask that you please institiute a set of rules and appeal systems that can better ensure fair judgments and final results these racers and fans truley deserve. This was my seventh year attending the races from Colorado. I wan to come and enjoy the races many, many more times. Please don’t just leave the dwindling number of race fans with this poorly written political statement. Please act for the better of all and fight for what is truly right. Thank you.

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  25. Well this doesn’t answer a thing. Next year you need to either add camera’s more judges or GPS or all of the above. Sorry but I still think you got it wrong.

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  26. RARA, you do realize this is ridiculous.
    You do realize this will never stand up to the fans.
    You do realize that we are not interested in improvable and irrational disqualifications.
    You do realize that regardless of your BS publicity statements and attempts to rationalize this stupidity, if PM doesn’t come back next year, you will have a noticeable drop in attendance.
    You do realize that I, like many other fans have only heard of the Reno Air Races, AND retain any interest in them is because of PM.
    You might like the feeling of power to stand up and announce how things are, but it is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the people who really keep this going.

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  27. What was the Reno National Championship Air Races will soon become the Reno Air Show. The blind judges and ridiculously restrictive course will end the racing. Fans won’t pay exorbitant ticket prices and the race plane owners won’t invest the $ it takes to win knowing it’ll be a political battle as much as an aerial one…. Goodbye Reno Air Races!

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  28. At this point, you have three choices.

    1. Work to change the rules (good luck with that – considering SAFETY is the #1 theme with the FAA around the air races.
    2. Stop racing at this event. Since there is no other use for your aircraft, perhaps that’s not your best choice.
    3. Quit bitching and suck it up. Your pilot made a mistake and got caught.

    Can we move on now?

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    • That’s just it “Betty” – there was no mistake. If RARA had proof, they’d offer it.

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    • Is there proof that it was Thom and not the nameless judge that made the mistake?

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    • Dear Betty-PM can tour the airshow circuit instead of taking a “Gamble” on the RARA judgement committee. Wander on over to the PM YouTube video and read my comment post about what Really happened when Tom made his appeal. I am sickened by RARA’s GOB Club’s behavior that evening. Thom was robbed. Plenty more Options-as many have pointed out. Start a new race somewhere else is just one option.

      Cheers–

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      • Holy crap I hadn’t seen your comment on the video. That’s outrageous how they handled the situation.
        They can’t break the rules to review this decision, yet they are the ones breaking the rules by disqualifying a team when they did nothing wrong. That also would be absolutely HUGE if Voodoo was the one that made the wrong turn.

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  29. This is insane. So what you’re saying is, go to where Miss Ashley came apart and make sure you turn harder. How is that in any way safer? All I saw was PM making a safe pass, but you’re saying he should have turned in to the Sea Fury in order to stay away from this deadline. If you’re going to have these deadlines, at least have video evidence to back up your claim. You can NOT expect everyone to take one mans word for it. That’s just wrong. Nice way to drive competitors and fans away from an already dying sport.

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  30. This kind of ruling reminds me of the old days in Auto Racing when someone other than the local favorite had a chance to win. You know, come up with some infraction either before or during the race to be used as a trump card if needed. If PM had broke something, blown an engine or even worse, lost control in a turn and went in after a lame DQ during the Second lap that wasn’t made known to the pilot or crew, then the Line Judge and everyone supporting his authority needs to know they would be respondable

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  31. Technology has clearly advanced to the point where “human error” could be eliminated ~ and yet I wonder why this race still relies on human input. I certainly agree there is cause for concern and reason for doubt. On another note; I did find it curious/coincindental? that the three main event class winners were featured on the 2014 Show T shirt.

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  32. After carefully reading the released statement, I believe it to be an honest effort to address the issue. However, I also believe it to be an effort to deflect much of the criticism by laying it at the feet of the FAA (probably rightly so).

    Having said that, and not wishing to belabor the point endlessly, I would like to ask that RARA revisit many of the rule changes and new rules that were promulgated following the tragedy in 2011. One point that really should be addressed, and one hopes by the next air races, would be that final or “championship” races have additional judging / judges in critical positions. This would help to alleviate much of the potential for criticism and controversy. The races need to be a growing organization, reactive to both fan desire and regulatory demands. This doesn’t seem to the current situation.

    Please, RARA, consider this in good faith, and exercise leadership in addressing these and future concerns. Let’s keep pylon air racing alive and growing.

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  33. I saw the saturday unlimited Gold Heat and it was the best Reno Race I have seen but It upsets me that RARA cannot get their act together. I heard that Tiger was disqualified for flying too high and then I heard it was because he was flying too low. It`s supposed to be racing those calls are a load of crap. I gave up on NASCAR when they started to mess up and racing became platooning at high speed. I`m not a fan anymore. It seem like I will have to give up Air Racing and Focus on Moto GP.
    I think that the call on PM was lousy , When you are flying so fast and low things happen in an instant I don`t know if he was passing somebody or what but I`m not happy with the call.

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  34. This was my first year in attendance at the races. I had a terrific time, the teams and fans were welcoming, friendly, approachable, and highly informative. I was fortunate enough to spend Friday at High G Ridge with your expert commentator who helped tremendously to bring me up to speed. Several times through the weekend I found myself saying, “Next year I will… ” I can see this turning into an annual trip for myself and my family. I mention all of this to let you understand the feelings I had about the entire event when I left Stead Airport.

    Imagine my shock and disappointment Monday when I read about the late disqualification of PM. I looked at the video. Yeah, the line was wider than on subsequent laps, the cockpit view shows PM is passing a competitor on Lap 2. In spectacular Unlimited Gold form What it does not show is that he went out of bounds. I understand that this is a wide angle lens, and perhaps not the best view. But it is the only record of the events to be presented. I agree with the above statements that RARA owes its fans and pilots some kind of proof, at a minimum multiple coraborating judgements in a timely manner.

    I hope for the sake of this one of a kind event Precious Metal makes the investment to return.

    I will certainly consider this disappointment when it comes to laying out my family’s hard earned dollars next year.

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  35. The auto DQ for a showline cut is a harsh rule,so it shouldn’t be enforceable without a way to contest the call against an aircraft. Pylon judges have teams that must agree before calling a cut, and you can protest the call. Showlines have only one person, and there is no way to contest their call. How exactly do you defend against this one person getting paid off to make a bad call? Is there something more that RARA is hiding on this issue, given their inflexibility on it? A statement saying the aircraft went “to the east of the other lines” is admission that it wasn’t a cut. The statement itself clears PM of the cut. Then again, this is exactly what RARA did to Dread a few years back, isn’t it? Why hasn’t the rule been dealt with to ensure safety and valid calls?

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  36. From a PR standpoint, it’s clear that RARA has lost the battle. This release is just further proof that the CYA attitude -well after the horse has left the barn- reigns in the organization.

    Most of us have now seen Thom’s in-cockpit video, and understand that there *might* have been a line violation. If there was a line violation, it was VERY close. So close, in fact, as to be considered a judgment call. In the meantime, Thom was allowed to finish the race, the race was called clean (several times), and only after the results were posted did the violation (questionable to begin with and NOT supported by the in-cockpit video) become an issue.

    The sport should remain safe and enjoyable for all. The latter requires transparency and fairness to the participants. Forsake one for the other at your own risk. Your paying fans demand it.

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  37. I totally agree with the earlier comments. There needs to be GPS for each racer, more than one line judge and cameras to verify dealine and altitude rule violations. The Unlimted Class racers are being treated like ___ and need to be paid in purse and appearace to the Air Races. The airshow acts are treated like Kings, whats the matter you people the Unlimited Class is your Bread and Butter. Without them you will have nothing. You need to take care of them. Listen to the Pilots they are taking the risks and know how these planes perform and how to make a safe event, listen to their experience.

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  38. Regarding the PM disqualification – really? There’s no cameras? What the f….er….heck!. They’ve been using those in TENNIS for 20 years now because the judges can’t figure out whether a tennis ball traveling at 1/5th the speed of an Unlimited Gold racer crossed a line or not. I paid good money to travel a long distance, rent a car, and buy tickets and overpriced fair food and drinks so I could be there all week to be *entertained*, not to see some freaking line judge express his opinion and exert his position of power.

    As an addition, I have to say that not seeing Strega race on Sunday was a total let down. For months we’ve all been looking forward to the Strega/Voodoo duel, and Saturday’s race was probably the most exciting ever. Why not simply place the DQ’d team last in the heat and let them race the next day?

    RARA, you are biting the hand that feeds you. If you care…

    Reply
    • Tiger would have been placed in last place in the Sunday race if he had not blown his engine.

      Reply
    • Strega did not race due to an engine issue, he was paired in 6th for Sunday’s race, but stood down due to the engine being blown.

      Reply
  39. I agree fully with everything already stated. If you guys want the Races to continue like you say it will, stop giving all of the pilots crap for trying to save their own lives and the lives of the other racers by following a line that they believe is necessary to do so!!!!! Disqualifying Strega and PM is just plain STUPID, maybe a penalty but DISQUALIFICATION?!?! What is that?????!!!!!!! If you guys want to be able to field anything more than a 5 plane field of Unlimiteds, you better get your act together and make it so the racers actually WANT to come back. One more thing, stop with the only the winner of the Breitling Unl. Gold race pulling up in front of the fans BS, all three of the podium finishers well deserve to be pulled up, and PLEASE LET THE FANS RUSH THE PLANES!!! We do NOT need anymore interviews after the race, it is the time for YOUR LOYAL FANS to congratulate the TOP THREE FINISHERS and the work that they do all year for one little weekend for us to enjoy. THINK A LITTLE RARA, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER OR IT’S GONNA BE OVER.

    Reply
  40. Gents, I have made a huge effort to travel half way round the world on four occasions to attend the races, brought a bunch of guys and girls with me each time and had a ball. In this day and age a judgement call by one individual simply does not cut it. There is too much at stake. RARA must get on top of this as it will kill the sport. I have a group for next year, but they are collectively disappointed. I don’t believe that the fix can be too difficult, so get it done and grow the sport, don’t kill it!

    Reply
  41. The DQ of Precious Metal in the Gold final is standing on a very shaky foundation. As other’s have mentioned, that is too big a call to rest on one person’s judgment, especially since there is no appeal process. As a 20-year attendee, I’ll say that if I cannot have confidence that rules will be fairly and reasonably applied (i.e. two or more judges, cameras or other simple technology to assist the judges, etc.) then I don’t think this event can be called air racing. it is simply a flying demonstration. Please, please fix this, in order to keep this wonderful event from devolving into the uncertain morass that is figure skating.

    Reply
  42. The official statement is a masterpiece of vagueness, insinuation, and smokescreen. It neither declares the judge correct, nor states that the review of the video confirms his decision, yet it manages to imply both. Lawyers will be very impressed by this careful wording. Race fans; not so much.

    Reply
    • Perfectly stated.

      Reply
  43. RARA and air racing in general has a golden opportunity to turn a sour finish dispute into a great story that occurs during change and adaptation. RARA and the FAA are responsible for the call that has tarnished their fan base. Every air race fan out there feels charged with a purpose when they feel they make a difference. The race teams spend thousands on hours and dollars to race for one week each year. The fans and the race teams are going to determine the existence of future events. RARA and the FAA exist to serve these other entities in order to aid their safety and structure. RARA and the FAA need to get together on this 2014 Breitling Gold Race and make it right again. The notoriety is now and the moment is now to support the fans and the races teams. I urge RARA to meet the FAA. The last news statement has too many holes in it. Come on RARA, go fix this while you can. The fans will be thrilled to see justice done. One judge cannot cost so many so much.

    Reply
  44. If you pride yourself so much on your “national championship” status, you WOULD have a way for further discussion or appeals for such things, however quickly and easily they may be disproved and rules against, and you would be open and public with that information and exactly how you reached the conclusion. And it should not take this many angry voices to get you to come forward with all of the above. Any other sport does the same, what do we see with any real sport when there’s a conflict like this? replay, after replay, after replay. If your technology is so “advanced” you would use its findings and show us directly why you came to the ruling that you did. And since you mentioned the cockpit video, you could easily, with minimal editing, show us in said video exactly where the violation occurred in the face of this much anger and backlash. We didn’t get that, we waited two days, RARA and now all you have to show for it is this weak, boiler-plated attempt at a message. Apparently you can’t believe the word of all the people – race participants included – telling you they think you were wrong, well it goes both ways, how should we believe you just from the words you typed here? flex some of those technology muscles you say you have and really show us what happened, as would happen in any REAL sport, instead of hiding behind your apparent authority with this kind of “because I said so” crap. Your unlimited class is shrinking every year because of your incompetence, inefficient communication, and poor decision making, wake up RARA, before you no longer have any races to govern.

    Reply
  45. Really? You just DQ’ed a guy who has been chasing his Reno dreams since he was seven years old and didn’t give him a chance to defend himself? Isn’t it true he has never cut a pylon or line before? Looks like maybe Mike Houghton was doing a better job than anybody knew, maybe he needs to be re-hired. What a bunch of Tossers.

    Reply
  46. It is obvious to me that most, if not all, of these comments are from people on the south side of the crowd line. I do agree with some that the problem has been the FAA. I also agree that RARA can, at least, have more than one set of eyes on the dead line. I will also say, “Why would anyone push that line knowing it’s an automatic DQ unless there was a safety issue?” Because of the first spectator involved fatal accident in Reno’s 50 year history, the Gov’t in it’s infinite wisdom felt that wasn’t good enough and needed to change SOMETHING! Do you remember the lame stream media asking questions like, “Why do they allow these races because they are so dangerous?” or “The Gov’t should do something about these red neck sports, because it’s not safe for the spectators.” Heck, even Sean Hannity made some stupid comments. We all know how they work. It’s obvious to me a fifty year safety record isn’t good enough for them. Accidents do happen. No one can prevent that. Not even the FAA. Ah yes, and do not forget the blood sucking attorney’s. It got political folks! Don’t you get that? They came out here from D.C., had their marching orders from people who know absolutely nothing about air racing, and made changes. What they used for the basis of their changes was a “scatter pattern” theory, yes THEORY to determine crowd lines and show/dead lines for the races.

    I happen to love this sport, so I swallowed hard and tried my damnest to abide by the new D.C. based rules and I did. Every one of us knew these rules and were briefed over and over again about these changes. Do these changes affect the racers? You bet they do! Do they make it safer for the crowd? The FAA thinks they do and for those of you out there that think RARA is at fault and made these changes, you should do a little more research. They have the only gig in town, at the moment, and were forced to comply or go out of business. None of the racers are happy with the new rules imposed by the non-racing bureaucrats in our, ever so efficient government. But, without their blessing air racing is over and what will that prove? That you don’t like the new restrictions? How about changing the D.C. crowd instead. Do you really want to let the lame stream media, the FAA, and the attorneys win? I DO NOT.
    If this sport is to survive, it needs your support. Maybe you all are just happy with 2 dimensional living and speeds those Nascar guys go. Hell, their fastest speed is my gear speed…..

    Reply
    • Nicely put. Best post yet. And if you are really Sherman, glad to see Czechmate do so well this year.

      Reply
    • Captain Smoot,

      One, thanks for the reply. Two, thanks for race Sunday. It was exciting to watch the gap close between Czech Mate and Voodoo close.

      Three, is there anything the Unlimited teams can do to stop this situation from happening again? That is, can the teams require cameras on the deadlines or showlines? Or that there be multiple judges on each line?

      From P.M.’s video, it appeared to me that a safe pass was made and I did not see evidence of a showline bust. Given the fallibility of humans, taking the word of one F.A.A. “Inspector” as gospel just isn’t good enough.

      The whole thing reminds me of the Bob Hoover debacle – a very shameful example of F.A.A. behavior.

      Reply
    • I agree with you Sherm. I think it is probably also a case of the FAA planning to DQ someone before the race has even begun just so they look like they are doing their jobs or to shut down the races outright. I have seen friends hook a CFI check-ride over and over again FOR NO REASON simply because the examiner has decided that it’s about time they fail some one and it’s this poor sap’s turn. For many of these check-rides the poor student is not even informed why they have failed. I think the true enemy here is the FAA. RARA may not be handling it very well, but the only way to defend themselves may be to push back against the FAA. Then the FAA will find a way to make it worse. They always do.

      Go CZECH MATE!

      Reply
  47. This is complete BS!! One judge f* cks the race every one waits 365 days to see. Not sure why there is no evidence to support this “official report”! A police officer can’t arrest a driver (who he suspects is intoxicated or under the influence) without a second officer documenting his observations. I feel like starting a sit-out (strike) beginning with the entirety of “Section 3” and any other supporters! MLB and NHL had to learn the hard way from it. Maybe the RARA and FAA would listen to what the paying customers wants other than their own wallets, if more people watched from outside the gates than inside?

    Reply
  48. Well RARA – what are you going to say to the city of Reno when you have to go in front of them and explain why Millions of $$$ are not coming back because We the Fans can go see an airshow near our home without spending money on plane Fare, hotel, rental cars, food, gambling and trinkets.

    How about ” Sorry we led you to believe we knew how to organize this event- but we could only afford 1 guy to ensure the multiple FAA Safety requirements for flying in front of the Main Grandstands during the feature event were properly judged.”
    “This led to an obvious human error that we could not address- so the Race teams decided to earn their money flying demonstrations at venues that appreciated the time and money invested in these thoroughbreds.”

    I will spend the money for next years trip to Reno in Kissimmee FL, supporting Thom and Team Precious Metal by taking a ride in one of his AT-6s, and buying Precious Metal shirts and hats.
    So long Reno- Kissimmee is 1/2 hr from Fantasy of Flight and 45 min from Kennedy Space Center, plus oceans, the Gulf, Disney, Universal, Sea Word, and more.
    For Reno- a National Championship without fair racing means Reno is just a dusty strip in a has been gambling town. Good luck with that- people don’t need to go there to get married anymore, and Vegas has better gambling and entertainment … Thank the RARA and the FAA for your economic loss, but I am sure plenty of people will travel 2000 miles for the Drone Races… NOT!

    Reply
  49. RARA- have fun telling the Reno City Council and the Tourism Board that you sod them a bill of goods you cannot deliver on.
    ” Honorable Councilman and City Leaders, We promised to bring a World Class Sporting Event to Reno, and we failed. After the tragic events of the past, we partnered with the FAA to ensure Safety was #1, and Air Racing would continue at Reno.
    Unfortunately, we’d could only dedicate 1 person to ensure that the Multiple FAA restrictions on the race line in front of the Main Grandstand with thousands of spectators seated were properly enforced.”

    As part of our failure to adequately provide for the proper judging and enforcement of the Safety Lines, a human error occurred that resulted in the 3rd pace winner of the Main Event being striped of his victory, and associated prize money and recognition. Our lack of foresight and in adequate staffing to meet the needs of the racing community, have resulted in a barrage of comments and votes of No Confidence from the fans.

    I am sure the City of Reno will be willing to foot the bill for the increased cost associated with the NCAR again, but when the fans don’t show up to spend money, the party will be over. Reno without a fair and open judging requirement is jut another duty desert airport, no need to travel 2K miles for an airshow….

    I will spend next yearsReno budget on a visit to Thom and Team Precious Metal, drop $500 or so on a T-6 ride, buy some hats and t-shirts, and still have money and time left for Fantasy of Flight, KennedySpace Center, theme parks and the beach! Maybe FL can host the NCAR, plenty of bays to fly over with runways on multiple sides, are you listening Tampa!

    Reply
  50. You said “The Contest Committee Judges are positioned on the showline and have a clear view of the aircraft position and flight path relative to the showline.”, while also saying “On Richard’s second lap, the Contest Committee Judge responsible for judging the East Showline ruled that Richard had crossed the showline.”. The East showline technically requires 2 if not 3 judges to accurately determine a showline cut. A single judge can not accurately determine an aircraft’s position relative to that showline unless the aircraft position was directly overhead that judge. This showline is 1,303 feet in length with a slight jog ending at Lemmon Dr. Based on the video, Precious Metal may have crossed an extended line North of that showline. If that judge was located anywhere other than at the intersection of the showline with Lemmon Dr, a cut could not be determined. Shame on those involved with this, be it RARA or the FAA.

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  51. In future racing, it would be a good idea to install some cameras or other devices at the safety lines – in order to have tangible proof of crossing – or not. Now it has been left to human observations and open to arguing, and the resulting bad feelings.

    People racing model aircraft have for long used devices to verify that a line IS crossed for speed or distance events. I’m pretty sure it is within the means of the Air Race organization to use technical means to verify that the aircraft remain within the designated airspace.

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  52. So RARA, in the finest tradition of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT. Even if the video does not prove innocence, the opinion of one man does not prove guilt. If it did, then my opinion would prove you, the overseers of this fantastic spectacle, guilty of rather more serious failures.

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  53. This is an FAA thing, made up after the Leeward disaster. It’s made up by a wannabe that was a mechanic at Chino in the 80’s and has now found himself at the pinnacle of the federal trough, the Peter Principal defined ever so well. Mark designed a tube through which the airplanes can fly in a parade, one by one, and never pass without a bust. I’m sure it’s the best he could do.

    Reply
  54. I’ve been waiting for an official statement that addresses the issue of the disqualification. I’m still waiting.
    Regardless of what official rules sy, the ruling was incorrect and letting it stand is wrong. You are bigger than you’re rules, so step up.

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  55. I fully understand that in the interests of safety as defined by those in authority race officials are going to be faced with making some difficult decisions, but the comments posted here from committed fans raise valid points that really should be addressed by RARA if this event is going to continue in the way it was intended. Allowing Precious Metal to continue racing at the expense of further engine/airframe wear, the delay in announcing the disqualification, the absence of telemetry or other technical evidence to support a decision based upon a single individual’s judgement and the lack of appeal available to the team is never going to generate goodwill amongst the paying attendees, let alone the participating Unlimited Race Teams themselves.
    This was our third consecutive year at the event from England and I accept that in terms of attendance we are still very much rookies, but even in our short experience we have noticed what could be worrying trends. When we first arrived in 2012 we were so impressed by everyone’s determination to continue after the tragedy of 2011, circumstances that I am convinced would have ended the event had we been talking about one held in the UK. In 2013 the absence of the previous years heavy metal was more than compensated for by the performances by the CAF. This year, whilst great to see the return of the F-22, to have the CAF four-ship parked up static for the whole event seemed a terrible waste, and was a great disappointment. We do not mean to take anything away from the very talented pilots who displayed between races, and we accept that the Reno Air Races are not a warbirds display, but a ‘drone zone’ will never be a valid substitute for real vintage aircraft at Reno. Add to this a reducing Unlimited field, controversy over race disqualifications, and event changes such as the decision to whisk the race winner away for a live broadcast at the end of the race which killed the atmosphere in the grandstand, and you risk losing the very essence of the Reno Air Races that we fell in love with three years ago.
    You guys and gals have something that you should all be very proud of, and that something can only exist in Reno. Concentrate on its core values, and your own characteristics of openness, friendliness and camaraderie that have made us feel so welcome year after year. Make it what it once was and the world will come to you. Don’t change it into something you think you can take to the rest of the world, because god forbid at best it will resemble an air show event with the odd race thrown in for good measure, at worse it will become an airborne version of Formula 1 motor racing.
    Looking forward to seeing how you reverse the trend in 2015.

    Reply
  56. One line judge, no second opinion, no collaborating evidence to prove the judges claim, no adequate appeal process, and a race that was announced a fair race with no breaches on the speakers. Is there any other significant sport with this level of time and money involved that is so poorly scrutinized?

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  57. Its dumb that RARA let people buy land so close to the airport that they have to tighten the race course. The city of Reno should eminent domain buy these houses and move the people out for safety. It sounds like the city doesn’t really want the races there anymore. The locals don’t even know it is happening anymore. They think it is part of the balloon races or something. Maybe it is time to move the races to a new airport that isn’t stuck with such a tight course. Maybe in Texas or Florida, where the west coast teams would be able to justify having a ferry engine for the trip to the races. There are a lot of open spaces in the country, one of them would make a great new race site.

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  58. “We very much appreciate the support and engagement from all of our loyal and dedicated race fans. It is with their help that “the world’s fastest motorsport” will continue far into the future.”

    Right now, the fans are being ignored as deserving teams are thrown under a bus. RARA needs to wake up. It is without the fans’ help that the Air Races will end.

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  59. Your statement didn’t convince me of anything except RARA is just another NASCAR in the sky. One person (and his/her qualifications are???) can make what is essentially a million dollar judgement call for PM with no recourse. I just add my voice to others… if the decision was unilateral, so why wasn’t PM advised to pull out of the race immediately? The rules are there supposedly for safety and if a racer is flying across the showline, wouldn’t the safe decision be to get that racer off the course before it occurs again? Of course, if the racer flew across the showline only to give all the Sea Furys a chance to move up in rank, then I can certainly see why there would be no need to remove him from the race. So many questions… so few answers.

    Reply
    • My opinion on this ruling has already been echoed by many in this comment section so I will try and keep my comment as productive as possible … First, I am glad that RARA did indeed release a statement regarding Precious Metal, Strega, and everything surrounding these issues … I am glad that they at least had some recognition of the seriousness of all of this and the impact it could have on the races (the effectiveness of the statement is another point) … My hope moving forward now is that RARA publicly commits to reevaluating everything regarding how “showlines” are judged, how planes are DQ, and seriously considering adjusting the unlimited course (even if that means making it smaller) in so that the course may be a safer and more exciting course to race on. I recognize there is only so much space out there to race in, but if planes cannot safely pass without being DQ … something needs to be adjusted.

      Reply
  60. I have been coming to Reno off and on since 1978. I don’t remember any such controversy, and I don’t think I have ever seen so many “comments” that are one sided, i.e. 99% against the RARA, in my many years (still trying to find the 1% in favor, but giving RARA the benefit of the doubt. The RAR’s are on the downward slide as the US and world demographics and interests change. The young people of today don’t have the same affinity for aviation as we post war/baby boomers do. PM attracts the younger crowd as no other unlimited participant does, like it or not. It is beyond me that RARA can be so short sighted. If the comments are any indication of the future of The RAR, you guys are in real trouble. Get with it.

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  61. Oh, and by the way, the quote: “In this case, the Contest Committee did review the aerial cockpit video from Precious Metal and determined that it clearly shows the flight path on lap 2 to be east of all the other laps flown.” So, the flight path of lap 2 was east of all the other laps. But just because it was “east” doesn’t mean it broke any line. RARA never comes out and says categorically that they agree that PM broke the crowd line. Have the courage to say that, yes PM did break the line, or admit that PM did not. Come on guys, man up!

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  62. To rectify this mess you’ve created with your appalling decisions, correct the mistakes. Bill Destefani is the winner of the Gold Unlimited race, and Thom Richard should be placed in third place. If you refuse, I’m done with Reno air racing. Maybe another group will start it up elsewhere under better management.

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  63. Why did you take the picture of Precious Metal out of the Unlimited gallery section? There are planes that haven’t raced in years there, but no Precious Metal. You can’t just erase her…!

    Reply
    • Hi,
      Your comment got me thinking… I looked at the cached history on Google for the Unlimited Gallery. It appears that RARA did not have a picture of PM at least early afternoon of the 14th (that was the arbitrary last time that Google recorded a snapshot). So I doubt there was any malicious intent here, just an out of date webpage.
      Still and all, a sour footnote to a great first time event for me.

      Reply
  64. You’ve got to be kidding me. 20 years I’ve been watching and participating and now RARA pulls these stupid DQ’s out of a hat and ruins everything. Thanks for killing my favorite sport RARA…

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  65. I am flying in from Germany to watch the races every year since 1991.
    2014 will be my last visit! Shame on you …….

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  66. I thank Sherman Smoot and other racers for comments. I thank ALL the fans for comments. I hope that more comments continue until we solve the dispute. We can make a difference all of us, because we are here now and if you bring the essence of air racing into your lives you will be hooked and carry it elsewhere. Tell RARA and the FAA to make this right.

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  67. Meh. If this was legitimate, PM would have been disqualified immediately, not hours after the race was over. For an actual safety violation race officials can’t afford to leave someone on the course, so this faux justification doesn’t stand up to a simple common sense test.

    Stop trying to destroy the sport.

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  68. Thom, I love the energy you have had and I am far too knowing of the investment of hours, dollars, and man-power you have made. I have watched through heavy lenses as you have re-engineered a fabulous aircraft. This kind of thing is why your predecessor left the event. If that one person has it out for you, you are done. I am directly implying that this line judge was less-than-honorable. There is no knowing why. I was unable to attend this season so I cannot speak as to the true line taken by you. The video is very compelling though. There is a precedent and stigma for this particular aircraft that is not small. I feel terrible for you being DQ-ed simply for being in the “wrong” plane. So, RARA, you “taught” another PM pilot a “lesson”. Huzzah…

    Reply
  69. A violation of FAA regulations or rules normally has an appeal process. Is there an FAA appeal process applicable to the these kinds of violations? In particular, if the action that resulted in the violation results in safer situation (For instance, provided more clearance between planes in a passing situation.), can that provide a defense to the violation? Also, where can one review the applicable RARA rules?

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  70. My first time at Reno races. Enjoyed them very much. My only complaint has nothing to do with rules or outcomes of any particular race but has to do with being able to see the races. We were in one of the special tent areas in the pit area (the EAA tent). We were in the very front row which was great except in almost every race somebody pulled out a tug or a truck or an airplane right in front of us during the race. Between races they seemed to stay away from spectators. Why could they not wait a few minutes for a race to be over before towing planes or equipment right in front of the paying customers? Very poor organization to me.

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  71. First, I didn’t attend this year. I made my decision that Reno was just an “old boys club” based upon actions taken towards a friend who raced in the sport class. I was crewing for him when a similar judges comment DQ’ed him. I was watching the even he was DQ in and saw no violation. In fact many competitors called it the “best racing they had ever seen.” I saw how the capriciousness of the judges ruined the dream of this low dollar competitor. I left the races at that point, even before the BIG ACCIDENT. Just not worth it. My $.02

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  72. Please be careful, Thom Richards. You don’t want RARA to “disinvite” you like they did to John Parker some years ago.

    I have noticed that you have video evidence and that RARA has none.

    Shame on you RARA.

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  73. You know, the last couple days of Reno this year reminded me of a football game where the officials throw at least one or more penalty flags on every play. It eventually grinds everyone’s enthusiasm and momentum down to zilch. And they leave the event feeling mad and frustrated instead of exhilarated as they could have. Enforcing rules to such an extent can spoil the whole event. Expecting pilots who are having to space themselves away from other aircraft, keeping sight of pylons, and then having to watch both and upper and lower altitudes, plus other ground based “lines”, and don’t forget the engine instruments, is starting to get a bit much when they are DQ’d over being a slight bit high or a tiny amount over some arbitrary line on the ground. And don’t forget the effect of air turbulence on these precise requirements. It looks like all these rules were made and enforced by those who aren’t even pilots, or those who’ve never flown around a race course.

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  74. RARA–after reading the posts about how everyone is upset with the DQ’s I’d like to offer up some comments just about the races in general. I’ve been coming with a group of friends since 1986–that’s 29 years. We have had the same reserved tickets (8 of them) and we stay in the same spots (3) in the Optimist lot We all have been saying how the experience is going down every year. This year you said there would be concerts, and other things (like bringing back the car drop!) but none of it actually happened. It seems like every year there is less actual entertainment with a lot more dead time between races. I know that since 2011 things must be real difficult but you have such a great thing going here it would be a shame not to take it to the next level and make it that much better! We were young(er) men when we started attending back in 1986–now we are turning into old dudes who are questioning if we want to keep returning and laying out all the money we do. You need to come up with fresh ideas (like concerts, etc.) to keep people coming back as well as to draw more new fans to the races. There is so much you could do to get fans involved! I hope you do-as we all look forward to our yearly reunion at the air races and I for one don’t want to take it somewhere else. Good luck, and hopefully we will be there next year to celebrate our 30th year of attending.

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  75. I don’t understand what all the confusion is about. It’s 2014, and GPS is available on even the cheapest cell phones. How hard would it be to set up a system, link it to an aircraft’s transponder for ID, feed it through a computer to track cuts and automatically send a DQ message to any pilot who crosses the showline? I’ll bet a 14 year old student out there could write a program to do it on an i{hone if you just asked. The issue is the validity of the call against an aircraft….forgot visual verification when you have the technology easily available to you already.

    Reply
    • ESRI probably already has a program available to overlay the GPS track on down to the inch of being accurate. Ca’t be that hard to do. I bet 90% of the pilots had their cell phone in their pocket during the race anyway. http://www.esri.com/

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  76. As crew chief of PM I’m bummed but have spent many days sleepless trying to be proactive in finding a solution to the problem. I don’t do politics I solve problems. I believe that I have come up with a simple affordable video sighting device that I will build at my own expense. The only thing I expect is that you test it at PRS 2015 and if it works buy it from me at cost of materials. It’s a ten foot pole with mounts for three go pro cameras. Simple and stupid.

    Michael Town
    CC Race 38

    Reply
    • You guys are a picture of outstanding sportsmanship and restraint in what must be unfathomable disappointment. As a fellow engineer/tinker, I applaud your approach to solving this problem, with an eye on improving the event for all.

      Bravo!

      Reply
  77. I hope that after a week of comments from fans and supporters of Reno Air Racing, we can hear from the News writers at this website again for an update on discussion – OR – that there is going to be more news on this dispute. If the writers here leave a void of silence after the comments have been made there will be further loses from interested participants. There are thousands of interested fans that just didn’t write in. I’d like to know what RARA thinks should be done by fans and supporters to elicit action on a broken part of the event.

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  78. As I understand the rules, ONE judge, who needs to provide NO evidence whatsoever, and who is unsupported by any other judge or observer can DQ a racer for crossing the Show Line — and there is no mechanism to appeal such a DQ for any reason at all.

    That is totally unacceptable in today’s world in any sport.

    I find the disqualification of Precious Metal highly questionable, having watched the cockpit video.

    Consequently, I have to say I think that RARA needs to look very closely at its rules and to make some changes.

    Reply
  79. Food for thought… The distance to the dead line between pylon two and three is only about 900 feet. At the speeds we fly, it takes less than 1.5 seconds to travel that distance. Any relax of “G” and you are there in a heart beat.
    As for having a racer pull off the course immediately upon infraction – RARA is not going to be on the radio trying to get someone off the course in the middle of a race. That poses a whole lot of other potential problems, which I’m sure racers understand. Like pylon cuts and high flying, deadline cuts are the same and are assessed after the race.
    There are only 231 unlimited race pilots that have ever raced at Reno. Thom and the Race 38 crew deserve a lot of credit for their hard work. We will work with RARA to address this. I promise you all that. I implore you all to continue to support what we all love to do. RACE! If you all kill this last venue with bitterness, the Gov’t and the FAA will win another one and continue to kill aviation as we all love it. Keep your powder dry! Vent your anger on the folks that felt a 50 year Reno safety record wasn’t good enough.

    Reply
  80. Any proof yet of a violation that warranted disqualification?

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  81. Sherman is right on. Big thanks for chiming in with true perspective. My friends & I will be back in force next year!

    Reply

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