Number 69, Jeannie
This P-51 Mustang began its early racing career at the Cleveland Air Races in 1949 as number 77, The Galloping Ghost, with Steve Beville at the controls.
1969: The aircraft makes its first appearance at Reno as number 69, Miss Candace. The owner and pilot at this time was Dr. Cliff Cummins.
1970: Cliff Cummins and Miss Candace return to Reno with a modified low profile canopy for reduced drag, and clipped wings to improve cornering in the turns. Unfortunately, there is an engine malfunction, which necessitates a crash landing in the sagebrush. Though Cummins is uninjured, the plane suffers extensive damage.
1972: After two years of major repairs and modifications that included reducing the aircraft’s weight, replacing the canopy with a new smaller Formula 1 piece, and adding a smaller scoop in place of the stock scoop, Cummins and Miss Candace make another attempt to win the Championship. However, due to some confusion regarding qualifying procedures, the racer does not make the field for the Unlimited Gold, but instead is relegated to the lesser Unlimited Medallion, which it wins with comparative ease.
1973: After qualifying in the third position for the Gold Race, Cummins and Miss Candace take second place behind Lyle Shelton’s winning Bearcat.
1974: Electrical problems during a heat race keep Miss Candace out of the Gold Final.
1975: After qualifying in fourth for the Unlimited Gold, bad luck strikes again as Cummins and Miss Candace are forced to make an emergency landing after burning a piston.
1976: Another setback as a blown engine forces Cummins and Miss Candace to make an emergency landing in Bishop, California, on the way to the races.
1977: The racer finishes third in the Gold, behind Precious Metal and the Red Baron. Once again though, on the cool down lap, the engine blows and Cummins is forced to bring Miss Candace in for an emergency landing.
1978: The racer is unable to compete in the Gold Final after dropping out again with engine problems in a preliminary heat.
1979: Cummins sells Miss Candace to Wiley Sanders of Sanders Truck Lines. Sanders renames the plane Jeannie, after his wife. The new pilot is former Red Baron chauffeur, Roy “Mac”Mc Lain, and Dave Zueschel is the engine man. Additional input is also derived from Lockheed engineers Bruce Boland and Pete Law. Unfortunately, power plant problems dog the team and Jeannie is forced to land at the start of Sunday’s Gold Final.
1980: Victory at last as Mc Lain guides Jeannie to its first Gold Championship.
1981: New pilot Skip Holm adds a second consecutive Gold win to the Jeannie resume.
1982: A blown engine during Thursday’s qualifying session puts Jeannie out of competition.
1983 to the present: Wiley Sanders sells Jeannie to real estate developer Jimmie Leeward, who in turn renames the aircraft Specter. In later years he will have the aircraft painted a bright yellow, change its number designation to 9 and call it the
Leeward Air Ranch Special. It will have an on and off again career thereafter, never again returning to the winner’s circle.
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