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Welcome to the World's Fastest Motor Sport.
"Fly low, Fly fast, Turn left"

by Ed Anderson


"A Race to Remember" (see photo page) was this year's theme, produced by the Reno Air Racing Association for the annual Reno Air Races and Air Show held 12-15 September, at Stead Field. Up until the tragic events of 9/11/01, the Reno Air Races ran for 37 consecutive years, so it was only fitting that with the 38th year grounded, this, the 39th year be known as "a Race to Remember".

The air race pits and hangars were full, and everyone, from pilots to spectators were thrilled and excited to be back to the big rendezvous. Two years is long time between races of the magical September classic, let alone the beautiful sights and sounds of race planes, warbirds, and piston engines, especially the "Unlimited's." Largely because of the increase of advanced ticket sales, the prize money was bumped up this year to $800,000.00, allocated among the race classes as follows: Biplane-$40,000, Formula One-$72,000, Sport-$46,000, T-6-$77,000 and Unlimited-$565,000. The Jet Class was an invitation-only match race with no prize money.

2002 National Championship Air Races & Air Show, Reno, Nevada
For those unfamiliar with closed course pylon air racing, particularly at Reno/Stead Field, there are five regular racing aircraft classes, plus the Jet Class, which was restricted to the Aerovodochody L-39 "Albatross". Small aerobatics type "Biplanes" such as the Mong and Pitts Special, take off in a pack of several aircraft in allotted positions, from a ground run, race horse start, flying low, like all others, over high desert ground of sagebrush, grasses and rock, on a 3.1195 mile course. The "Bipes" often reach speeds upwards of 200 m.p.h. The "Formula One" aircraft is a mini-might, powered by a Continental 0-200 engine, must weigh at least 500 pounds, have 66 square feet of wing area, fixed landing gear and have a fixed pitch prop. These little original racers also have a ground race horse start and can attain speeds up to 250 m.p.h. over the like, almost oblong, 3.1195 mile course. The "Sport" Class comprises high performance production model kit-built aircraft powered by a reciprocating engine of 650 cu in. or less which includes Lancair, Glasair, Questair, Thunder Mustang, that can push the envelope to 325 m.p.h. or better around a course of 6.3089 miles but from an air start. T-6 Texan/Harvard/SNJ Class also has an air start into a 4.9616 mile course. This group of "Air Harley" (Al Smith words), jockey's are usually keenly competitive, simply because they race stock airplanes modified only by spit 'n polish, type of propeller, skill and luck to accomplish their max range of speeds of between 210-225 m.p.h.

Above photos are from Ed Anderson's HIstory of Flight Series

This year is the debut of the 'Challenge Cup' Jet Class, with perhaps the intention of injecting another and unique feature into air racing - 'the swish noise', no afterburners allowed. All racers, it must be said, compete in groups of several aircraft and fly their respective pylon courses in 5 to 8 laps, depending upon earned rankings and other factors. The "Unlimiteds" is the premier and muscle class of Air Racers. Open to any piston driven aircraft, there are but very few "scratch-built" race airplanes in this class. Historically the ranks of this group have been filled by stock or modified WW2 fighters, comprising mostly P-51 Mustangs, Hawker Furies, F8-F Bearcats, Yaks 9 & 11. When these heavyweights form up behind the 'smoke on' jet pace plane for an air start into the "chute", excitement rules the crowd as the sounds of big engines rule the air. The "Unlimited's" generally race 6 or 7 aircraft together in every 'Heat' each day, up until "Race Sunday" when 8 planes compete in all three divisions &endash; Bronze, Silver and Gold. Top speeds in the "Gold Race" competitors frequently exceed 450 m.p.h. at altitudes as low as 100 feet or a bit less. "Two and a half football fields every second---If that doesn't get your stuff working, then your stuff's not gonna work." &endash; race pilot Alan Preston. Motor racing at it's exciting best.

The qualifying selection process for registered race aircraft, although a little complicated, is basically determined on the fastest qualifying times for each class of racers. When all is said and done after the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday course trials are over, each class is allowed a maximum number of competitors &endash; Formula One-24, Biplane-24, Sport-16, T6/SNJ/Harvard-18, Unlimited-24, and Jets-8.

For each day there was a full program of scheduled flying events, beginning at 8:00 am when gates were opened to the general public, through to around 4:00 p.m. when the last Unlimited race closed the flying program. The Reno Air Racing Association disclosed that it was exceptionally pleased with the spectator turnout, estimated to number upwards of 200,000 for the four official days of air racing and airshow. In between the racing 'heats', onlookers were treated to the performances of world-class airshow acts: Julie Clark with her Beechcraft T-34 Mentor, "Free Spirit", in her first appearance since 1997, Dan Buchanan and his spectacular aerobatic hang-gliding routine, "Flying Colors", Greg Poe with his Edge 540, aerobatic monoplane and "Attitude is Everything" performance, Kent Pietsch and his Interstate Cadet flying comedy act, Scott Hammock, another returnee, in his flame spewing jet-powered dragster, Steve Appleton, in his first time appearance, flying a red Hawker Hunter jet, the "World's Fastest Airshow Team", the "Starfighters", operating two Lockheed produced CF-104's of the 1960's and '70's jet era, and lastly, the centerpiece presentation - the U.S. Navy's "Wall of Fire."

Special Events were also of significance this year, including the first ever reunion of the crews of the Apollo and Sky Lab space missions. Astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, William Anders, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and several others assembled at a special dinner sponsored by The Reno Championship Air Races. Master of Ceremonies was Hugh Downs, longtime former co-anchor of the ABC news magazine program, 20/20.

A replica of the 1935 Howard Hughes H-1 race plane also appeared at the Reno Show with builder/pilot Jim Wright of Cottage, Oregon. Wright, piloting the Hughes H-1 s/n 2 set a new world 3 kilometer speed record of 304.07 m.p.h. for piston aircraft in the H-1's weight class. The previous record was held by Stephen Oster in an Aerostar at 266.03 m.p.h. The original H-1 is on exhibit in the Golden Age of Flight gallery at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

The Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy competition was back for a third year. A joint effort under the auspices of Rolls-Royce North America, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Reno Air Racing Association and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, encouraging the preservation of aviation history through the preservation and/or restoration of vintage aircraft. Past winners were: 1999 - Bob Odegaard of Kindred, North Dakota and his F2G-1D "Super Corsair", 2000 - Ray and Sherri Dieckman of Corona Del Mar, California and their FG-1D Corsair, "Marines Dream", and for this year a Fairey Firefly AS6, restored as a Mk. 5 with cannons, NX518WB, s/n FS134054 owned and flown by Eddie Kurdziel (Capt.) of San Diego, CA.

Air Race fans met some emotional highs and lows during race week. September 11 observances, the tragic accidental death of Tommy Rose from Hickory, Mississippi when his Questair Venture 20 crashed just past the home pylon, apparently due to wake turbulence during a heat race on the Friday. A second Questair in that same race also crashed, but on landing, after the race had been 'red flagged'. Michael Dacey of Pismo Beach CA, however, walked away from his wreck without serious injury. Brent Hisey survived the crash of his P-51 Mustang, "Miss America" after blowing the engine at the start of a qualifying lap on Wednesday, when the 'Miss' spun off the runway after a main wheel smacked a ditch. Early in the week "Czech Mate", the sleek Yak 11 with Sherman Smoot aboard experienced a runaway propeller when the big motor over-sped, some say, to more than 5,000 rpm Also Tom Dwelle's big hybrid Fury #10 "Critical Mass" fell victim to a collapsed landing gear on an after flight taxi which also scratched their race action. "Dago Red", a P-51D Mustang, driven by Skip Holm scorched the course to qualify, at what must have been a record speed of 497.787 m.p.h. Bill Destefani in "Strega" also a P-51 Mustang was not far behind plying another amazing course speed of 486.798 m.p.h. before exploding his #1 race engine. A loaner motor from friend Dan Martin was brought in from Hollister CA, but despite Herculean efforts, "Strega" never did return to form even after jumping up to the 'Gold' from winning of the 'Silver' race on Saturday. A suspected burned piston took the "Tiger" and his 'Witch' out of the big race before completing the first lap. The popular "Rare Bear" #77, expected to be back in the hunt this year almost made it. The 'Bear' and pilot John Penny missed the cutoff for qualifying with alternator troubles. Short of smooth running by only a couple of days, if that, leaving a lot of fans disappointed and looking to next year. Regardless of the sick, injured and broken "Unlimiteds" there was still lots of good racing with sufficient numbers to run race rosters for the Bronze, Silver and Gold categories with Mustangs, Furies and Yaks. Of interest is the fact that of the 10 top qualifiers, 5 were P-51 Mustangs and 5 were Hawker Furies.

Mary Dilda of Memphis TN set the pace and narrowly bested the boys with a win of the first-ever jet heat race at Reno in the Thursday competitions. Then later she slid into her T-6 Texan, "Two of Hearts", #22 and almost won that one as well. Racing great Darryl Greenameyer, 66, unretired himself to set a Sport Class qualifying record of nearly 348 mph in a supercharged, flapless Lancair Legacy. Another record shattered was in the Biplane Class when David Rose of La Jolla, CA qualified at 227 m.p.h. in a Peregrine, named "Rags".

Race Sunday saw a change of weather from great to not so great &endash; an onset of clouds and big wind which pummeled the afternoon flyers with dust and severe crosswinds.

Having a lot of the contenders out of the 'Unlimited Gold' gave "Dago Red" and Skip Holm a good edge on the pack. Sure enough, from the 'getgo' #4 grabbed lead position, and held it to win with a course speed of 466.834 m.p.h. Michael Brown in "September Fury", #232 placed second, posting a speed of 455.965. Bob Button's "Voodoo", #5, like "Dago", a P-51 Mustang, with Matt Jackson in the seat garnered third spot at a speed of 435.614 m.p.h.

Winners of the 'Unlimited' Silver and Bronze races were respectively Joe Thibodeau in #21 "Sea Fury" at 388.272, Randy Bailey also flying a Sea Fury, #911 "September Pops" at a course speed of 385.917 m.p.h.

Tom Campau flying #21 "Mystical Power" captured Gold in the AT-6 Class posting a speed of 231.614 m.p.h., and Jim Good took the Silver race in #7 timed at 222.106 m.p.h.

Darryl Greenameyer picked up the Sport Gold in a Lancair Legend, #33 with a course speed of 328.967 m.p.h.

Winner of the Biplane Gold was David Rose in "Rags" #3 at 224.200, class record.

Formula One Gold champion was Gary Hubler in #95 at 249.560 m.p.h.

The Jets Race was won by Curt Brown in #5 at 456.540 m.p.h. and Mary Dilda in #22 a close second at 455.114 m.p.h.

For more detailed Air Race Results you can refer to


Story and Photos

By Ed Anderson


Why Reno-Sparks/Lake Tahoe?

Reno-Sparks/Lake Tahoe is one of the West's premier convention, tradeshow and meeting destinations. The area offers planners: unique meeting venues and facilities; professional service; and a wide variety of local attractions, day trips and special events, all at a great value.

Take a look below for commonly requested information. From facility specifics to an overview of the destination, we know you will see that planning an event in Reno-Sparks/Lake Tahoe makes perfect sense.

Contact Reno at or 1-800-443-1482 Ext. 7786 with any further questions or to begin planning your event today.

Reno/Tahoe International Adds Flights
By May 1, 2002, Reno/Tahoe International Airport will offer 81 daily departures, just two shy from pre-September 11 levels.

"This bodes well for the Reno, Sparks, Tahoe region, and validates the resiliency of our market," said Krys T. Bart, executive director of the Airport Authority of Washoe County.

·Effective March 15, United Airlines will add a fifth flight to San Francisco, restoring United's San Francisco service to pre-September 11 levels.

·Effective April 7, Southwest Airlines will offer a fourth flight to Portland, OR.

·Effective May 1, America West will add a sixth daily flight to Phoenix, AZ.

Contact airlines for schedule information, or log on to the airport's website at Much more to come.

Stars And Diamonds Shine At Tahoe's New Grand Lodge

INCLINE VILLAGE, NV&emdash;February 14, 2002&emdash;Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort and Casino has been awarded Four-Star, Four-Diamond status once again. The prestigious Mobile Four-Star Award places the Hyatt among America's Best Hotels. The highly regarded American Automobile Association's Four-Diamond Award has been bestowed upon the resort for seven consecutive years.

The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is one of six hotels in the state of Nevada, and one of two in Lake Tahoe to achieve the Mobile Four-Star Award. The esteemed Four-Star Award honors only those properties that provide exceptional achievement in guest accommodations and attention to detail. Five-Star status was awarded to only 25 lodging properties across the United States, while Four-Star status was achieved by only 240 lodging properties. There are over 22,000 lodging and dining establishments involved in this rating system.

Hyatt's Four Diamond Award is one of the lodging and restaurant industry's most prestigious honors. This distinction is awarded only to establishments that maintain a high level of service on a consistent basis. The four-star award symbolizes an "upscale" facility that offers a wide variety of amenities not only in the guest rooms, but also in the public areas and on the surrounding grounds of the property.

"It's an honor to receive both the Four-Star and Four-Diamond Awards," said Jordan Meisner, vice president/managing director of the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort and Casino. "This is a result of a concerted team effort and our commitment to high standards of service."

Two of the foremost travel guidebooks are the Mobil Travel Guide and the AAA Tour Book. Both guides provide comprehensive, up to date information on lodging properties utilizing a one to five diamond or star rating system. Information may also be obtained on their websites at and

The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort and Casino is a four-star, luxury lakeshore getaway located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nevada. The recent renovation transformed the resort into a "Grand Lodge" property reminiscent of the elegant High Sierra lodgings of the 1920s. The décor boasts a reflection of the nature and environment of Lake Tahoe in each of 449 guestrooms and the 24 Lakeside Cottages. The resort features an 18,900 square foot 24-hour casino, a full service Spa Hyatt and a choice of eateries including the award winning lakefront Lone Eagle Grille. For room reservations and more information call toll free (800) 233-1234 or direct at (775) 832-1234 or visit the website at

Contact: Karen Vaughn
Web site:


A complimentary copy of the "Top 100 Events in North America" may be obtained by sending a postcard to: American Bus Association,
1100 New York Ave., N.W., Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005-3934 or a fax to:
(202) 842-0850 or e-mail to:
Additional copies are U.S.$3 each to cover postage and handling