Soaring to gold: Reno Air Races wrap up 5 days of high speed, high altitude competition
Despite high winds with numerous heat race cancellations on Saturday, the Reno STIHL National Championship Air Races concluded five days of racing on Sunday with the following Gold championships in six of its seven classes.
The Unlimited Class top qualifier, Joel Swager of Ione, captured his Gold championship at 426.896 mph, flying “Dreadnought,” a formidable Hawker Sea Fury ahead of official second place, Sherman Smoot of Templeton and his Sea Fury “Argonaut” at 359.861 mph.
In the original second position mix was Brent Hisey, of Oklahoma City, who pushed hard in his P-51 “Miss America,” forcing Swager to “pour on the coals” to the delight and excitement of fans. Hisey, however, was disqualified for breaking a 250-foot elevation above course rule.
In the AT-6 Class, Chris Rushing of Van Nuys flew his ”Baron’s Revenge” to a howling 234.862 mph victory over second place, John Lohmar, of Dallas, in “RadialVelocity” at 228.205 mph.
Jet Class winner, Pete Stavrides, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, took the Gold flying “Viper” at 502.362 mph, upsetting 2019 Champion, Pete Zaccagnino, of Park City, Utah, pushing his L-29 jet “Just Lucky” at 496.99 mph.
Jeff LaVelle, of Kenmore, Washington, captured the Sport Class Gold victory at a screaming 400.834, flying his Glassair III “Race 39” ahead of Jim Rust, of El Cajon, in “Race 24″ at 389.290 mph.
The Formula One Championship went to Justin Meaders, of Mineral Wells, Texas, in “Limitless” at 237.020 mph, ahead of Justine Phillipson, of Vacaville, flying “No Strings Attached” at 225.567 mph.
An in-flight incident occurred near Pylon 4 during Saturday’s Silver race involving Carl Robinson of Longview, Texas. The canopy departed from his Cassutt racer, “Heat Stroke,” subjecting Robinson to sudden 150 mph winds to his face, causing temporary blindness and ripping off his radio headset. Robinson maintained control to make a safe landing.
In the Biplane Class, Sunday’s strong winds with 45 mph gusts led to the cancellation of the Gold race. Jake Stewart, of Hope, Arkansas, achieved his victory of 209.398 mph flying “Bad Mojo,” ahead of second place, Scott Thompson, of North Bend, Washington, flying “Second Hand” at 201.262 mph. Their victories are based on Saturday’s Heat 3A results.
While the new STOL Drag Racing Class proved highly competitive, as well as thrilling for the fans, high winds on Saturday afternoon and Sunday meant cancellation of key races for safety reasons. With great popularity, the event promises to return next year.
The Reno National Championship Air Races is the fastest motor-sport in the world. Along with top air show performers, flying heritage organizations, and the U.S. military, the event generates an estimated $91.2 million dollars for the Reno economy. For more information and complete racing stats, visit http://www.airrace.org.
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After Friday night’s thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory, it looks like the Miners may have found their magic once again.