Weather seldom interferes with the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, but the event saw “interesting” weather part of the day Sept. 15 that canceled some races and postponed others until Sunday. Strong winds and gusts on Saturday did not abate, even after a little rainfall, said Texas photographer Robert Fisher, who regularly attends the races. “The winds stayed even after the skies turned blue,” he said.
The showcase Unlimited Gold race was won by Joel Swager of Ione, California, flying Mk 20 Sea Fury Dreadnought. Swager posted an average speed in the race of 417.735 mph. Second place went to Brent Hisey of Ardmore, Oklahoma, flying P–51D Mustang Miss America, averaging 410.927 mph; Curt Brown of Hudson, Wisconsin, captured third flying Sea Fury Sawbones at an average 401.721 mph. There were eight aircraft in the Unlimited Gold field.
The Reno Air Racing Association’s video team captured dramatic video of the collision, and documented the safety procedures undertaken as both damaged aircraft recovered.
Mike Steiger of Cypress, Texas, won the Jet Gold race flying L–39 Albatros American Spirit. He averaged 486.208 mph in the championship race. Pete Zaccagnino of Park City, Utah, took second in the L–29 Delfin, Just Lucky, averaging 477.900 mph; Pete Stavrides of North Haven, Connecticut, captured third in the six-jet field flying L–39 American Patriot at an average 474.612 mph.
Andrew Findlay of McCall, Idaho, surprised many when he won the Sport Gold race flying Lancair Super Legacy One Moment at a remarkable 402.716 mph. Second and third in the race went to Super Glasair IIIs flown by Jeff LaVelle of Kenmore, Washington (second place) and Bob Mills of Reno (third).
Winners in the other classes of the fifty-fifth National Championship Air Races were:
Formula One, Justin Meaders of Ft. Worth, Texas, flying Snoshoo SR–1 Limitless, 239.521 mph.
Biplane, Andrew Buehler of Olalla, Washington, flying modified Mong Sport Phantom, 221.721 mph.
T–6 Class, John Lohmar of Dallas flying SNJ–5 Radial Velocity, 228.612 mph.