September 20, 2012
By Mike Collins
Strega won the 2012 Unlimited Gold race
Steve Temple flies Formula 1 racer Madness
This Lancair Legacy races in the Sport class
Tom Aberle won the Biplae gold race flying Phantom
A Corsair races in the Unlimited class
Alan Crawford placed fourth in the Sport Silver race
Curt Brown pilots his Hawker Sea Fury in the Unlimited class
Hoot Gibson brings September Fury around a pylon
Jeff Turney flies the L-39 Drakon
Kevin Eldredge flies Relentless in Sport class
Miss Dianne is the Pitts S-1S of Robert Caster
Pete Zaccagnino flies in a Sport class heat
Racers in a T-6 heat round a pylon
Rare Bear challenges September Fury
Rob Sandberg won the bronze medal in the T-6 class
Rod Lewis flies his Grumman F7F Tigercat
Steve Hinton flew Strega to a 2012 Unlimited Gold win
Steve Senegal won the Formula 1 race in Endeavor
Steve Hinton of Chino, Calif., was the fastest piston-aircraft pilot at the 2012 National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., Sept. 12 through 16. Hinton won the Unlimited class’s Breitling Gold race flying Strega, a modified P-51D Mustang, at a speed of 477.523 mph. Hinton has won the Unlimited class each year since he began racing Strega in 2009, repeating the feat in 2009 and 2010 as well.
There was no championship race in 2011, when the event ended early after Jimmy Leeward’s highly modified P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost abruptly rolled, pitched up, and crashed, killing Leeward and 10 spectators on the ground. Through 2008, owner Bill “Tiger” Destefani had flown Strega to seven Reno wins.
The fastest racer at Reno was American Spirit, an L-39 Albatros piloted by Rick Vandam of Reno, Nev.; he won the Jet Gold race with a speed of 490.629 mph—although he had topped 504 mph during a qualifying heat earlier in the week.
Class-winning performances also were turned in by Jeff LaVelle of Mukilteo, Wash., flying the Glasair III Race 39 in the Sport class; Steve Senegal of San Bruno, Calif., piloting Endeavor, Formula one; Nick Macy of Tulelake, Calif., at the stick of Six-Cat, T-6 class; and Tom Aberle of Fallbrook, Calif., flying Phantom in the Biplane class.
Qualifications for the 2012 air races began Sept. 10 at Reno/Stead Airport north of Reno, Nev. Racing began Sept. 12 and concluded Sept. 16. Only one minor incident was reported during the event, when the right landing gear of Unlimited Class race pilot Matt Jackson’s Hawker Sea Fury, Furias, collapsed on the airplane’s rollout after landing. Warned by a flickering gear-indication light, Jackson landed gently, but the right gear failed and caused the airplane to ground loop. Furias had qualified third in the Unlimited Class with a speed of 467.287 mph.
Two other aircraft pulled out of races in progress and landed uneventfully. Rare Bear pulled out on the last lap of the Unlimited Gold race, reportedly because of overheating, and the P-51 Precious Metal pulled out early in race because of a missing gear door.
Complete race results are posted on the Reno Air Racing Association website, and they can be accessed through the Air Races app for the Apple iPhone.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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