2006 AirVenture Cup draws 60 racers
By Randy Dufault

This yearís ninth annual running of the AirVenture Cup air race attracted the second largest group of racers ever.

"Considering gas prices, this was a surprise," said Bob Whitehouse, a member of the race organizing committee.

When asked if the committee did anything special to attract racers this year, Whitehouse responded, "Thereís a lot of word of mouth now, a lot interest from the different groups of racers. Theyíre all talking to each other on blogs and websites."

Whitehouse added, "Itís one of the few events I believe that actually showcases the work an EAAer building a homebuilt has done and its use, rather than just using it for the $100, now $150, hamburger run."

The 2006 race started in Dayton, Ohio, Sunday morning and ended with a flying finish over a small airport south of Oshkosh. The racers recovered at the Fond du Lac airport and departed together for a mass arrival here at AirVenture, landing at about 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening.

Sixty racers participated this year. The largest group ever was 73 airplanes in 2003, a special two-day race to celebrate the 100th anniversary of flight. That race departed from First Flight Airport in North Carolina and ended at AirVenture.

One factor contributing to the large turnout certainly was the seven racers, one chase plane, and one tag-along plane that came from Spruce Creek Fly-In, a residential airpark just south of Daytona Beach, Florida.

Keith Phillips, Race #10, a longtime AirVenture Cup racer and Spruce Creek resident, is credited with encouraging the group to participate.

"We intimidated a few into racing," Phillips said with a grin. "This is fun. Itís a great way to come to Oshkosh. You meet some really neat and unique peopleÖWeíd like to see it grow. We think itís a great thing for sport flying."

"You donít need a particularly fast or special airplane to be competitive," Phillips added. Racers compete in a number of classes that place similar designs and power configurations against each other.

Without exception the racers were pleased with this yearís race, especially the good weather.

James Redmon, Race #13, said, "Last year it was brutal. It was rough and hot. This year it was just perfect, except, of course, for the head winds."

Redmon flew the race with his wife, Sandy. They live in Frisco, Texas, and were participating in their second AirVenture Cup with their Berkut 360.

Harry Hinckley, Race #30, raced for the first time this year in the SX-300 he owns in Iowa City, Iowa, with two other pilots. When asked how he managed to draw the pilot duties, he said one of the owners needed to get here early and someone had to haul the camping gear. "I guess I just had to fly the airplane," he said smiling. He did go on to add that he likely will need to share the pilot duties in future races.

The race planes are parked here at AirVenture just east of the tower.

Detailed results of the race are available at www.AirVenture.org.