...Old Emotions, New Challenges
Reno evokes the full range of emotions, from the visceral to the nostalgic, and nobody felt them more than two of this year's 16 grand marshals. Retired Lt. Col. James Warren and retired Chief Master Sgt. Fred McLaurin fought two different kinds of conflict throughout their careers. As alumni of the Tuskegee Airmen, they did their duty while battling the kind of racial intolerance that would be unthinkable today. "We succeeded where we were expected to fail," McLaurin, a former T-6 mechanic, told the Gazette-Journal. "Nothing was done to help us. We had to succeed by guts and willpower." Warren was once refused entry to a Reno hotel while in uniform and helped lead a mutiny against the white-only policy at an officers club in Indiana in 1945. But all that's changed, he said, and he called the U.S. military "the most equal-opportunity community in America." Others faced different challenges on their way to Reno. For Dr. Brent Hisey, racing his $1.5 million Miss America P-51 is a lifelong dream come true. The Oklahoma neurosurgeon grew up "watching war movies and building models," of which the P-51 was a favorite. "I don't think there's anyone who ever regretted owning a Mustang," he said. But what about those of us who don't pull down a brain surgeon's salary? A pilot can get into Formula One racing for as little as $13,500, but Ray Debs wouldn't recommend it. "Practically every flight was an emergency," he said of the used racer he and his partner Curtis Weinman bought two years ago. The duo is now working on a new race plane and expect to put about $35,000 into it. "We'll be in the Gold Class next year," Debs told the Gazette-Journal.