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World Champion Pilot

Tulelake pilot wins during Reno Air Races

By Diana Wunderle
Tulelake Tri-County Courier
also  Siskiyou Daily News

posted on KBC Oct 3, 2003 photo by Pat Ratliff/Klamath Media

RENO, Nev. — Tulelake’s Nick Macy succeeded in his bid for the world
championship at the 40th Annual Reno Air Races Sunday, delighting his
cheering family and a crowd of about 25,000 spectators.
This is the third world championship for Macy, as he won back to back in
1999 and 2000.
In 2001, the races were cancelled in the wake of the attack on America.
In 2002, Macy took second in the gold race.
An annual migration for the Macy family and the ground crew for Macy’s
plane, “Six Cat,” this year’s triumph was particularly challenging.
Macy races in the T-6 class, where the aircraft are strictly limited in
the modifications that can be made.
This has served to keep the class extremely competitive, and people who
have been to Reno will tell you the very best racing can be seen in the
T-6 matchups.
Macy, who began racing at the Reno Air Races in 1986, is second
generation pilot. He first attended the races when he was “10 or 12,” he
told an interviewer in 2000.
This year, Macy upset the AT-6 field by excellent flying.
In a heat race Saturday, Macy was able to pass two competitors, an
incredible feat in the evenly-matched T-6 Class, and was able to gain
the coveted pole position for Sunday’s final.
The AT-6, a WWII-era fighter trainer, is a restricted stock
classification. With such a level playing field, only mechanical
precision and pilot expertise separates winners from losers.
Favorites in this class are generally determined early, in qualification
runs, with few surprises in race results.
This year, Macy’s qualifying speed on Monday was 238.67 mph,
overshadowed by rival pilot Mary Dilda in the “Two of Hearts.”
On Wednesday, Dilda set a new world record with a speed of 239.27 mph.
Macy attempted to re-qualify, but managed a slower 233, which placed the
Six Cat third in the starting line up for the first heat race on Friday.
Thus was set a fierce battle between friendly rivals.
In Friday’s heat race, Macy managed the incredible feat, passing the
first and second place competitors in a single race.
Friday’s race wasn’t the only heat Macy took.
A challenge to Macy’s Six Cat was filed, and before Macy had returned to
his pit officials flagged him down and began inspecting the Six Cat for
illegal modifications.
Macy’s crew chief, Ace Bigby, was unconcerned.
“We are so clean it hurts,” Bigby said.
After almost 20 minutes, race officials cleared the Six Cat.
Saturday’s heat brought another upset, as Macy took the lead from the
favored “Two of Hearts” in the first lap, and expanded his lead through
the third and fourth laps.
At Lap No. 4, Dilda was forced to retire due to mechanical malfunction.
Macy and the Six Cat had won the pole in Sunday’s final, and rode the
Six Cat to the world championship.
When asked about his accomplishments and efforts of the week, the
unassuming Macy would say little, and quickly began directing credit to
the people behind him.
“Yeah, I had some pretty good runs,” the world champion said. “I’ve got
a great crew, here. Most of them are volunteers and they come out here
every year, you know, basically to help me chase this dream. They
deserve credit for outstanding effort.”
For Macy, the big dream is not the purse of $80,000. He’s after the
title and the satisfaction. His focus and motivation is his family and
“Without corporate sponsorship, the purse makes it possible to continue
to compete, and just almost covers expenses,” said Macy’s wife Beth.





Page Updated: Saturday February 25, 2012 05:19 AM  Pacific

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