Strega, long a fan favorite P-51D air racer, won the Gold race in the Unlimited Class at the fifty-fourth National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, Sept. 17.
Pilot James Consalvi’s time of 7:49.774 for the eight-lap race resulted in a speed of 481.34 mph. He was closely followed by last year’s Unlimited Gold-winning combination of Steve Hinton and the P-51D Voodoo, finishing with a time of 7:50.356, for a speed of 480.744 mph.
The rest of the field included two more Sea Furies, Sherman Smoot’s Argonaut, and Mark Watt’s 924; and a Yakovlev 3M, Full Noise, flown by Graeme Frew of Auckland, New Zealand.
Comments posted on Strega’s Facebook fan page relived the Unlimited Gold race’s most thrilling moments as Consalvi maneuvered to achieve a come-from-behind win after Voodoo got off to a better start. Consalvi’s victory built on his second-place showing in 2016, when he averaged 450.582 mph flying a Yakovlev Yak 11, Czech Mate.
In the Jet Class, the L-39 Albatros American Spirit flown by Rick Vandam of Reno took first place, flying six laps in 5:42.292 for a speed of 494.21 mph. Zachary McNeill of Corpus Christi, Texas, flying the Vampire Stealth, one of only two non-L39s in the eight-airplane race, finished second at 471.511 mph.
John Lohmar of Dallas took first place in the T-6 Class Gold race, piloting Radial Velocity to a winning time of 225.47 mph.
A Super Glasair III flown by Jeff LaVelle of Mukilteo, Washington, took Sport Class gold, flying the six laps at 388.313 mph, with Vicky Benzing of Saratoga, California, the runner-up in her Lancair Super Legacy Lucky Too.
The modified Mong Sport biplane Phantom took Biplane Sport Class honors with Andrew Buehler of Olalla, Washington, flying six laps in 4:57.175, or a speed of 226.725 mph, beating out a field consisting of six Pitts S-1s and a Pitts S-LHN.
Eight competitors flew the Formula One Gold race, with Lowell Slatter of Buhl, Idaho, capturing the top spot in Fraed Naught, a Gilbert DG2, taking the eight laps in 6:11.063, which clocked in for a speed of 242.104 mph.