September in northern Nevada brings the sound of big engines turning fast - and airframes going even faster! It's time for the Reno Races, and Kitplanes will be bringing you a few notes from the course this week.
Early in the week, the event is for the participants - practice, qualifying, and tinkering with their machines. The competitors and their crews are accessible and easy to mingle with - as long as you respect their need to get ready to fly. We like to spend the first day figuring out what's changed, and there are definitely changes in the pits over last year. The large hangar that was used for the fastest Sport class racers is no longer available, so most of the class is working in tents or on the open ramp. While its harder to work on the planes this way, it is arguably better for the spectators who will be arriving in greater numbers each day.
The Sport Class has a bumper crop of aircraft and pilots this year, and the competition to get in to the field is intense. Ever since the invasion of the "Metal Mafia" a few years ago, RVs have dominated the Medallion Heat, added because the class had more airplanes than slots. Now, more fast glass airplanes (Lancairs and Glasairs, with a few others sprinkled in) are showing up, pushing some of the RVs out the bottom of the field - a testament to the lure of racing, and the growth of the class.
We don't want to sell short the other homebuilt aircraft at Reno either - the Formula 1 and Biplane racers. Generally flying first thing in the morning, these classes are fun and fast, racing on the short course immediately in front of the stands. Arguably more watchable than the Unlimiteds and Jets on the large course, it is worth getting to Stead early to enjoy the sights and sounds of these single-seaters going around the pylons.
The Reno Air Racing Association does a good job of updating the results for each event and heat on their web page - if you can't be there in person, but want to follow your favorite racers, you can find these reports at reports.airrace.org.