Thursday, August 25, 2016

Getting Ready for the Races 2016

It’s that time of year again – everyone is getting ready for another exciting Reno Air Race week. There is a lot of new happenings, some returning racers who were missed and other news to share. So let’s get started.

Sport Class

As we have said in the past, the Sport Class is the place to be. The Class is coming off an amazingly successful PRS week with 54 pilots and instructors, 48 planes flying a total of 500 sorties between the FAST Formation event and PRS. That was 8 days of flying – and makes herding cats look easy.

They originally had 49 entries and are expecting a group of 44. This will allow them Gold, Silver, Bronze and Medallion Races. The guess is you’d have to be over 400mph to win the gold. Over 300 to win the Silver and 270 would be a good time in Bronze and the Medallion race will be faster than anything in the past as well.

The Gold group will see John Parker attempting to repeat in his beautiful Thunder Mustang, Blue Thunder II. Jeff Lavelle is back with the world’s fastest Glasair and we know he’s ready. Dave Sterling, Andrew Findlay and Lynn Farnsworth are all in the hunt for the crown. Gary Mead and Vince Walker may be there as well – and who knows what Kevin Eldredge in Relentless has up his sleeve.  

Jeff Lavell is BACK! And he’s FAST! Credit: Rob “Phred” Miller

Two fan favorites should be back this year, Elliot Seguin is signed up to bring back Darryl Greenamyer’s old ride, #33 with the help of Andy Chiavetta. And Colleen Keller is slated to bring back Dennis Stutes old Super Legacy. This will be a very exciting group to watch.

The other big news in the Sport Class is the inaugural Slalom or Match Race. The concept will be one on one competition between two Sport aircraft. Both aircraft will be on the course doing a side by side slalom race. They will utilize the Formula/Biplane course.  They practiced and trained for it during PRS and it looked pretty fun! Currently they are looking for a bracket of 8 pilots with single elimination. I’m pretty excited about seeing this and also interested in the crowd’s interest in events like this for the future.
And Race 33 should be there 
Credit: Tim Adams


The Jet Class is also a growing group and they seem to be working on a very competitive event this year. Rick Vandam in American Spirit will be taking on last year’s winner Pete Zaccagnino in his Vampire. Sean Cushing in Fast Company will also make it interesting. Zach McNeill is also bringing a Vampire. This all sounds good to me. The Jets will again offer close racing and a lot of fun!

Formula 1

This Class has been reinvigorated over the last few years. With years of pilot and aircraft decline – we were concerned about the future of the F1 Class -- but, not anymore! This year, they have a full field of 24 racers. To put it in perspective, the last time they had a full field of 24 was in 2002. The record was 29 in 1991. 

Three things have happened to bring life back to the Class.
  • Air Race 1 – while they did not have any contests this year, the excitement of a World Wide Air Race for Formula 1 sent several people scrambling to dig through the barn and get their airplanes flying again.    
  • GripLockTies and Creighton King put together the Slab Wing Dash for Cash. $1000 Cash Money (as Creighton likes to say) will go to the fastest Slab Wing Cassutt (or other Slab Wing racer) He is putting up the money for Fastest Speed (determined by Qualifying time and Race Speed – there is a formula, of course.)  I think it’s a great idea – money talks, as we know! 
  • And the final element is a sense of camaraderie this group has developed. Between Justin Phillipson and his West Coast operation and Phil Goforth and his Midland, TX based Fly Boyz Race Camp and the IF1 Doctor, Steve Tumlin – there is just renewed interest and support for those just starting out in IF1 Air Racing.

Grip Lock Ties is sponsoring the Slab Wing Dash for Cash
Credit: Tim Adams

This Class will be very exciting to watch this year. And – all you need to do is wake up early enough to be there at the start. You shouldn’t miss it!


Biplanes are having an interesting time this year also. With Tom Aberle announcing that he and Phantom are taking the year off – there is an open spot at the top. I know several of the Gold Racers have been putting in the extra effort to get the win. Jeff Rose is probably the favorite in his bright yellow Mong, Reno Rabbit. Of all the racers on the roster this year, he has the fastest time in the past. But – that doesn’t account for what others have done in the off-season. The Gold should be very exciting this year. And a New Champion will be crowned!


It seems the T6 Class has the same three guys at the top each year. Nick Macy in his gorgeous Six Cat, John Lohmar in his Radial Velocity and Dennis Buehne in Midnight Miss III. Last year had Chris Rushing coming out of the Silver to give Dennis a run for his money at the end – but Dennis still won.

This year, I have an idea things may be a bit different. See, Eric Woelbing is not bringing his Bare Essentials this year. Nope, he’s bringing Eddie Von Fossen’s old Miss TNT. I have a feeling he will be in the mix for the Gold! T6 Racing is always close – and always fun to watch.


The Unlimited Class is having a difficult year. It seems Rare Bear decided to take a year off at the same time that Strega decided to take the year off. That brings a completely new view at the top of the leaderboard.

Jay Consalvi was to fly Strega this year, but he will be flying Czech Mate instead. So, I have a feeling most of the Strega fans will be pulling for the little Yak this year.

Shafter Power
Czech Mate will be taking Strega’s place this year
Credit Rob “Phred” Miller

Voodoo with Stevo Hinton will be there trying to win back the title. They have been making subtle changes and testing during the off-season. I know they will be ready to go.
And there is always everyone’s favorite Sunday Ride – Dreadnaught. Dread has won before and if anyone else has a hiccup, this could be the Sanders’ year. They are always poised and ready to rock and roll.

The rest of the roster is light – yes, we know. But we need to support the races during the lean years, so there will be better years. Just be there! Wear your favorite team’s colors and let them know you are still cheering them on!

The Show

THE BLUE ANGELS WILL BE THERE! They put on a heck of a display and I cannot wait to see them back at Reno. We’ll see you there – September 14-18! But, if you’re a REAL FAN – you’ll be there by the 11th to watch all the Qualifying Action!

Fly Low, Fly Fast and Turn Left!
See in at Stead.

Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing
Pylon Place 

Friday, August 19, 2016

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