It is no secret to those that attend the Reno Air Races every year that there has been some downsizing in recent years. It's not unexpected as the Unlimited Class has shrunk and the major players in previous years have now been retired - leaving what might actually prove to be a field that is better matched and could lead to some exciting racing! Nevertheless the Sport, Formula 1 and Biplanes classes - consisting mostly of homebuilts are going gangbusters with full fields and some planes put on standby in case one of the field breaks or can't show up! This is great for those mere mortals who are looking for a chance to just get out there and see how they do against other pilots and planes.
The grounds themselves have probably undergone the most significant changes this year over previous iterations of the event. Of note is that the only hangar being used in the pits in the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) hangar reserved for the F1's and Biplanes. All of the Sport class racers (many of which used to be pitted in large leased hangar space) are now outside with the composite planes in temporary tents and the "Metal Mafia" contenders in the open like the past couple of years. Support facilities for the pits - such as port-a-potties have continued to shrink in numbers - but there were always way more than were being used at any time so this really isn't downsizing just to save money it really is "right-sizing"...which also saves money. The other big change to the pit configuration is the location of the small grandstand which has always been set up against a hangar on the southern edge of the pits. It has this year been position up close to the pit wall in prime position for viewing the races! While it was easy to find a place to sit on Tuesday we expect that it will be packed full by the weekend by team members and other denizens of the pit area.
Dynon Avionics contributed a large tent as a pilot lounge for the Sport Class Medallion racers and their crew this year and it is a great place to find out what is going on with the competitors and their planes - we'll keep our ears open for gossip on who's fast and who's broken as the week goes on.
Racers have been arriving since the weekend and both practice and qualifying have been underway since Monday. A large percentage of all of the fields had qualified by Tuesday afternoon with some remarkable speeds posted - signifying a fast year in the making. You can follow the races on line at airrace.org where they plan to have some live streaming of the action. Results (which are usually updated very quickly) for each class are available at reports.airrace.org - check daily on your favorite pilot or plane to see how they are doing and we'll bring you reports of significant interest here at Kitplanes as they occur!