The Liberty Gazette
August 9, 2011Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Saturday August 13 will witness “The Indy Air Race,” a new event in Indiana. Airplanes will test their metal against the clock as they course their way around six turn points through Central Indiana on a cross-country course of 144.5 nautical miles.
So far, eighteen airplanes are registered for this weekend’s event. Traditionally, several entries come in days prior to any race as pilots nail down their personal schedules and check weather forecasts closer to race day.
If all goes well this will also be the first time our Cheetah has raced since we began our engine overhaul and aerodynamic upgrades several months ago. It still needs a paint job but thanks to our mechanical genius friend and rescuer in Crandall, Texas, it will be ready to race. Someday we may write about the challenges we’ve encountered along the way but for now, we are happy to be airborne once again.
Linda: Hosting an air race in Indy was an idea born out of conversations Mike and I had when the Chief of the Sport Air Racing League, Mike Thompson, said he would like to see the League grow to areas where air racing hasn’t been yet. Indy, my hometown, was at the top of our short list of airports that meet certain requirements for hosting an air race.
Last year at a race in the Tennessee Valley, the Chief and I discussed the idea of a race in Indy. Liking the idea he wondered if we could organize a race long distance. I felt it was possible because I have lots of family and friends (volunteers) there. A few phone calls later and great help from my mom and sister, somehow it all came together.
Among the airplanes entered are several really fast Experimental/Homebuilt aircraft. Lynn Farnsworth, a Reno air racer and war hero will lead the pack at the start in his souped-up Lancair Legacy.
We’ll be on the air on WIBC radio in Indianapolis either Wednesday or Thursday evening at 6:00pm Central time, streaming live at www.WIBC.com. The host, Denny Smith, who is also a pilot, was so excited when he received an email from my sister regarding the race that he immediately scheduled us for his show – great promotion for the race, and for the League.
My sister’s hosting the pre-race party Friday night, where there will be plenty of food, socializing, and fun. A shooting range is on the property and I just ordered a large inflatable outdoor movie screen. The air race movies I bought should go over very well with this crowd.
The racers and volunteers will take a special tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the day before the race, and on race day when the airplanes enter the runway to start their take-off roll, they will be given the green flag by veteran Indy 500 race driver Bob Harkey, himself a pilot.
The hosting FBO, Montgomery Aviation, will serve a pancake breakfast and hot dogs after the race, and has discounted their fuel price for our racers. The Montgomerys have also pitched in as sponsors toward the cost of t-shirts and trophies, to supplement our main sponsor, Aerodine Composites, who has been quite generous in support of our race.
As a first-time Race Director, I’m indebted to a great bunch of volunteers, sponsors, and hosts, and am excitedly looking forward to Saturday’s race.