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Jets & Vets

  • Published
  • By TSgt Brian Cox
  • 185th ARW/PA
   Well before you see them, you hear them; that unmistakable purr of high performance engines accelerating exponentially and hot tires screaming in the turns. A little closer and there's the smell of hot tires and even hotter brake pads. There is a hint of exhaust fumes in the air, but the wind carries most of it off across the runway; the runway where KC-135R's of the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), in Sioux City, Iowa usually take off and land. Today however, June 13th, of 2009, the Air Guard's landing strip is occupied by members of the National Council of Corvettes Clubs (NCCC), West Region, and their machines.
   In the glare of the summer sun it takes a few seconds to actually see the cars. Each one is polished and shines as if new. Members of the NCCC, West Region, race against the clock in a sort of time trial almost weekly in the summer months in order to win a chance to compete at the national level, according to Tim Bailey of Leavenworth, Kansas. Bailey has been driving a Corvette since 1974 and says folks come from all over Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa just to drive.
   Four categories make up the NCCC's racing classes and each has to do with the level of performance the individual car is currently at. Beginners usually compete with "street tires" as they are the most economical. As members become more involved and willing to invest more into their cars they can easily progress to "DOT race tires", "DOT race tires with modifications", and the top class "Race Prepared".
   The Corvette drivers' need a wide open stretch of pavement such as the runway the Air Guard has here at Sioux City. The 185th was glad to lend a hand. In return for the space to stage these races, drivers gladly gave onlookers rides around the track. First Sergeant Tom Fergen of the 185th rode with six year veteran driver Teresa Eller of Plattsmouth, Nebraska in her 1994 Coup. Fergen said he was impressed with how Eller could anticipate the turns at such a high rate of speed.