Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reno Air Races 2012

The tradition lives on in grand fashion!

The excitement of the races begins in the pits. Based in hangars, the Formula, Sport and Biplane pits are a hub of activity, as everything from basic aircraft maintenance are performed to modifications specific to current racing conditions. And under the bright Nevada sun, the T-6s, Unlimiteds and Jets are just as active, but with much larger crews performing basic prep to complete engine teardowns and swap-outs, all in trying to give their pilots an edge on the race course. All of this pit activity is completely open to the public, who can come right up and look at legends like Strega and see upcoming legends like September Fate, making its first appearance at Reno. And if all those sights and smells don't get you excited, the crews and pilots are right there dying to talk to you and answer your questions. It's no wonder that the Reno Air Race fans are the best in the world and why the races continue.

The crowds were energetic, the competition from Formula to T-6 was exciting and the weather was perfect for the fastest motor sport on the planet! The GP-5 made its first appearance at Reno in 2012. An all-wooden Super Sport, fine-tuning the engine allowed it to put on quite a performance at Reno!

The 2012 races began on Wednesday, as heats for each class narrowed down those who would race for the gold on Sunday, producing more than the advertised excitement. Three new speed records were set in 2012. Steve Senegal in his Formula One Endeavor set a record speed of 260.775 mph. Nick Macy in his AT-6 Six-Cat set two records, on the 13th in Gold Heat 1 of 246.047 mph and then again in the Gold Medal race on Sunday of 247.317. And then there's the excitement that comes from just flying. Furias, appearing in its gorgeous new paint, had a landing-gear failure during its qualifying heat, ending its racing week (pilot walked away). In the final Unlimited Gold Race, Precious Metal called a Mayday as it lost its landing-gear door. The week of racing, as it should be, featured only heart-pounding exhilaration of man and machine, competing against gravity and time!

Steven Hinton lands after winning the Unlimited Gold Race in Strega. The young Hinton accepts the trophy, one he's not a stranger to.

In the end, there were only six Gold Winners: Unlimited Class was Strega piloted by Steven Hinton with a speed of 477.523 mph; Jet Class was American Spirit piloted by Rick Vandam with a speed of 490.629 mph; T-6 Class was Six-Cat piloted by Nick Macy at 247.317; Formula One Class was Endeavor piloted by Steve Senegal with a speed of 253.817; Biplane Class was Phantom piloted by Tom Aberle with a speed of 246.454 and Sport Class was Race 39 piloted by Jeff LaVelle with a speed of 393.522 mph. These pilots, crews and aircraft carried on the grand tradition of air racing to the delight of the fans.
All pit activity is completely open to the public, who can come right up, look at legends and see upcoming ones, as well. The crews and pilots are right there to answer your questions. It's no wonder that the Reno Air Race fans are the best in the world...  

Dennis Buehn in Midnight Miss III gasses up after a heat. Buehn went on to take second place in the T-6 class.
The thrill of the races is hard to express as simply a congratulations to the winners because there's much, much more during the entire event. Race traditions, like seeing the Unlimited 232 September Fury back in the skies and taking second or the old favorite Dreadnought taking third, keeps the fans in the stands. The Formula One Gold Race had fans in the stands on their feet, rooting for their winner in the photo finish. And it's there in the stands you get the true feeling and understanding for what the Reno Air Races are all about. It's for those fans that the planes assemble at Reno each year, providing them with a thrill you can find no place else. And the 50th Reno Air Race planning is already in progress as the tradition lives on in grand fashion.


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