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Whenever my cell phone rings, I am in the habit of looking to see who it is calling. The screen simply said, "Kerch."

"Hi, Bill! How are you?"

"Iím good, Scotty! How are you?" After the initial pleasantries and exchanges, I told Bill Kerchenfaut, crew chief of Dago Red, that he sounded a bit tired. "Yeah," he said.

Indeed, Bill Kerchenfaut was tired. The whole Dago Red crew was tired. After the first Mouse Motor failed, the engine was rebuilt and put back in the plane in record time. Then, during a test flight, the airplane was almost lost. Holm could not land when a flight of 20 aircraft arrived at the airport the same time he needed to land. Then one of the planes ground looped and closed the runway. They wouldnít move out of the way, either. Holm ended up running out of fuel, coming up short of the runway, and bouncing up onto it. Tragedy was narrowly avoided. The team had two strikes already, and Reno hadnít even started.

Kerch had called and wanted to let people know what had happened with the Dago Red team on Saturday and Sunday. Many of the fans left Sunday as Dago Red and Rare Bear crossed the finish line. Most left thinking Dago Red had won the race, with Rare Bear in second. As the pylon judges checked in after the race, it was reported Dago Red cut pylon four on lap two. Rare Bear had won Reno 2004.

"I have a lot of people asking me what happened," Kerch said. "Nobody seems to know. Would you post the facts on the web sites so people can know what happened?" 

The easiest explanation is that Dago Redís canopy fogged over during Saturdayís and Sundayís race. In fact, the problem was present to a small extent on Friday and during the morning test flights. Itís a problem inherent with racing P-51s - the spraybars on the radiator inject a large amount of moisture into the fuselage. In addition, the change in weather heavily influenced the problem. During past years, the warm temperatures prevented fogging during the races. However, the cold and humidity that blew into Reno late Friday changed all of that.

The crew knew that this was going to occur, and had taken steps to prevent it. Four coats of anti-fogging compound were applied to the inside of the canopy before Sundayís race. In fact, a fan had been installed several years ago to blow air to the front left of the canopy. This year, these preparation just did not do the job.

ĎI feel bad," Kerch said. "Skip Holm just does not cut pylons. Heís the best out there, bar none. This whole crew put everything into this yearís effort, and itís a shame it turned out the way it did. At the end of the day, we didnít give Skip the tools necessary to win the race. That was our failure. And I am the crew chief, so I am responsible."

"We also have a lot to be proud of," Kerch said. "We ran in front the entire week; nobody, including Rare Bear, got around us. We had the fastest competition speed, and we won the Thompson Trophy for our efforts. I just want people to know the facts. We have such a super team. Every single member of the team is the best in the business."

"And I donít take anything away from Rare Bearís win. Those guys are true racers, and they ran smart. They overcame a lot just to show up at Reno. Those guys never gave up and always kept after it, so I congratulate them," Kerch said.

In any form of racing, a win is a win. This year, Rare Bear earned the title of Unlimited Champion; their victory is sweet and it was earned. In reality, Dagoís second place finish has "prolonged" future competition... As a member of the Dago Red Team, I can speak on behalf of the entire team when I say, "See you guys next year!"

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