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Itís been a little over a month since we spent race week together. Iíve had time to decompress, reflect on our time together, and got the pictures back from Foto-Mat. Oh the memories! We did have some good times, didnít we?
Remember when there was a chance I wouldnít make it up there with my airplane? Everybody was figuring Iíd be all pissed off and moody. Nah! It was either going to happen or not, but everything turned out just fine. I got my little racer fixed and showed up to see you just a little late. I apologize. A little drama makes for a better story, doesnít it? I was glad to see you, and hope you felt the same.
You were good to me this year, Reno. I appreciate that. You and I have that special relationship, donít we? They keep saying that everybody has a mayday at Reno, but I havenít yet. But I know youíre a fickle force, arenít you? Things go great right up until they donít - but you were good to me. I was ready for you, too. Pull up, keep the left turn and land on one-four or eight. No problem, right? But you were good to me.
We got to catch up with so many good people this year, too! All my friends were there, and it was nice to see them. Steve Hinton said hello and was busy being the pace pilot... Rick Vandam and I got to talk a lot, and my fellow sport class racers are a great bunch! It seems like I canít walk the ramp without stopping to say hello to at least five people.
Eric Martin was there; always building relationships. Heís a good guy; the three of us always have such good times together. Jeff Lo is a true gentleman and offered some much needed help to us. I even got to chat with Tiger a little; heís always grinniní. Makes you wonder what heís up to, doesnít it? Is that a beverage in his hand? Why, yes it is! We all have some of those when weíre together with you.
Jimmy Leeward had some spice added to his Mustang this year, so it was good to see him go a lot faster. Heís always so polite to everybody, and then a real animal on the course. We could use some more guys like him, couldnít we, Reno?
Yes, we make the best memories together, donít we? Remember when Bob Odegaard was racing this year and you made his supercharger quit? Not very nice to do to a rookie, is it, Reno? But I understand. Some days you are the pigeon and some days youíre the statue. But you have to agree, the "rookie" handled that with style.
There are so many others we got to spend time with... Neal and Birgitta Nurmi, Kevin Grantham, Gerald Liang and the rest of the press corps are still close to my heart. They go camping with you every year at the pylons; always eager in the morning and tired, hot and dusty in the evening. But they stick it out and provide us with the history you allow to unfold.
I donít even mind that youíre harsh on us sometimes. It builds our character. Nevermind that we have to land a blown up airplane, fix the carnage or scrounge for parts or help! We have to endure everything from wind and snow to blazing heat. But itís okay. This year, you were so good to us... Just one day of cold and wind. Bless you, Reno.
Speaking of harsh, what is it with you and Mustangs lately? You should give those guys a little bit of a break, eh? You spanked Dan Martin pretty hard this year, didnít you? Twice, even! What in the world did he ever do to you? And poor Stu Eberhardt! You not only blew up his engine, you broke his airplaneís back. Theyíre good people, though, and theyíll be back. You build a lot of character, donít you, Reno?
Speaking of character, I wish I could tell you what the phone message from Bob Button sounded like! Whoo-wee! We would have had such a laugh over that one! You werenít very kind to him this year, either. But heíll be back. So will the rest of them.
You were really good to a lot of people, too. Especially Mike Brown! Heís only been with us since 1998, but you and his team got along great this year. Did you guys sit down and talk about things? It seems like you two were close as bride and groom. Yes, Reno, Iím a little jealous... But itís ok. Itís all a dance and weíll have our moments, too.
The rest of my memories with you this year are a blur... Bill Kerchenfaut, Dennis Sanders, Steve Dilda, Al and Randy Goss, Southern Comfort and Vicki Cruse... Class briefings, dinner at Outback, and the Pylon Bar. Your over cooked-dinner and cold, cold beer at the awards banquet... Crew meetings, golf cart rides and some memorable low flying that I still feel bad about. (Well, at least I won't do it again...) Trophies. Smiles and friendship.
Reno, you give us so much... You test us and you place hardship in our way... You give what you think we can handle, then you heap on just a little more. Youíve broken some men and women, but Iím not one of them. Not yet, at least. But at least you are honest about it. We know you can turn on us at any time. I think we have some mutual respect, donít we? I wouldnít trade what we have for the world.
So hereís to you, Reno. You gave us all a pretty good year. Iíve been back home, unpacked, did the laundry and can now look at our time together and understand how special it all is. In some ways, Iím not sure what Iíll be doing with you next year. But I know one thing; it will be fun, hard, challenging and very difficult at times. You mix it all up so well. The deeper we get in together, the more challenges there are. Thanks for letting me learn these things.
Until next year, Reno. Take care and keep in touch. Iíll be thinking about you.
Story by Scott Germain - WarbirdAeroPress.com. Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved. Thanks to Chris and Mike Luvara for use of their photos. Additional photo by Jack Germain.
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