Las Vegas II: Capps rides with Thunderbirds

Ron Capps joins Air Force Thunderbirds' Nine-Gs Club during ride at Nellis AFB LAS VEGAS - Ron Capps knows he has a thrilling job driving Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car, but he took the "ride of his life" in a U.S. Air Force...

Ron Capps joins Air Force Thunderbirds' Nine-Gs Club during ride at Nellis AFB

LAS VEGAS - Ron Capps knows he has a thrilling job driving Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car, but he took the "ride of his life" in a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet at Nellis Air Force base.

Capps, whose fastest run in his racecar is 317 mph, was going at speeds in excess of 300 mph during the 60-minute experience with Major Douglas Larson.  It wasn't the fast pace that got Capps' attention, but feeling how the body reacts to the G forces that accompany a ride in an F-16.

"Your body notices the G forces and they all wear special gear that helps you adjust to that kind of force," Capps said.  ""The gear is connected to the plane and it begins pumping air into the suit as the Gs go up.  The higher the Gs, the more the suit squeezes you.  

"We pull about 6-1/2 Gs in the Funny Car for maybe two seconds.  We did 7- 1/2-G pulls that were up to 10 seconds during the ride and when we pulled 9.2 Gs, we were there about five to seven seconds."

Reaching that 9-G plateau put Capps in an exclusive club.  Approximately 50 percent of all those who are fortunate enough to ride with the Thunderbirds make the 9-G club.

"We did a couple of 7-1/2-G turns and my vision started to flutter like it would before you start to pass out. It lasted about five seconds," he recalled.  "But when he did the 9.2-G bank and after he'd snapped out of it and straightened out, my vision had dots in it and fluttered for about 10 seconds.  I would imagine I was close to passing out. He really wanted me to make the 9-G club so I could get my pin."

Major Larson didn't waste any time getting Capps to feel the power of his ride.  

"As we went down the runway we talked about how it was a little like looking down the drag strip, we were pulling about 6 Gs until we got to the end of the runway and he pulled the stick back and we went straight up," said Capps.  "He yelled at me to look out the side and watch as Las Vegas disappeared out of sight.  

Capps also had the opportunity fly the plane.

"It was just like playing a video game," he added.  "He told me how to fly it before we left the ground.  I had this screen in front of me and all I could think of was that I was flying one of the United States' prized fighter planes," he continued.  "It was just awesome."

Although Capps did lose his breakfast, it didn't prevent him from enjoying the experience.

"I felt quite queasy when I got out of the plane, but the ride is something I will never forget.  I'm a U.S. Air Force fan for the rest of my life.  I was proud to fly in the F-16.  Major Larson showed me a great time; it was a real treat."

Capps returns to his regular ride Friday when qualifying begins for Sunday's ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway - across the street from Nellis Air Force Base.

-sr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps