Most members of the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame developed a love of cars or motorcycles at an early age.  Not John C Penney.  His first love was for airplanes, and it brought him to Colorado to fulfil a congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy, followed by a truly distinguished aviation career as a pilot, aeronautical engineer and flight instructor.  His association with the Rare Bear Racing team began as a volunteer in 1983 and move to team pilot in 1984. The Rare Bear is a refitted World War II Navy fighter, sporting an 18-cylinder supercharged engine capable of producing over 4000 horsepower and equipped for air racing.  After just two hours of flying time in the plane, John won the Silver heat in the 1985 Reno Races, then conducted the first of eight career “dead stick” landings after engine failure in the Gold heat. What was to come next is an amazing story.  The Rare Bear team, with John as its highly determined pilot, captured Reno Unlimited Gold Championships in 1994, 2004, 2005, and 2007.  They also won Phoenix 500 Gold Championships in 1994 and 1995, along with seven fast qualifier trophies.  John maintains that these were team accomplishments, and he was “just the driver”, but his abilities as that driver are remarkable.  Flying in a race at 500 miles per hour, and rounding a pylon while pulling 5 G’s ten feet from a competitor’s wingtip demands incomparable piloting skills, paired with John’s unbridled passion for racing.  This team has overcome incredible mechanical challenges to complete at the highest level of the sport.  John has called the highly modified Rare Bear plane tempermental and tricky on takeoffs and landings, and downright hostile in racing conditions, making it all the more remarkable that he set world qualifying speed record of 503 miles per hour in it at during the 1996 Reno races. In addition to the nine championships in the Rare Bear, John’s career record also includes two Reno National Jet class titles, piloting a Czech L-39 jet called “Pipsqueak” to victory.  Today, John’s need to compete has been replaced by the experience of giving wide-eyed youngsters the chance to fly with him in his 1946 Piper J-3 Cub, and following the careers of his family members.  John C. Penney’s induction into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame will undoubtedly make him the organization’s fastest member, in light of his world record for piston-engine propeller driven aircraft of 528.3 miles per hour in the Rare Bear. For his speed and remarkable racing career, we now welcome him enthusiastically into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame, class of 2021!