Started in 1964, the Reno Air Races feature multi-lap, multi-aircraft races between extremely high performance aircraft on closed ovoid courses which range between about 3 miles (Bi-Planes and Formula One) and about 8 miles (Jet, Unlimited) in length per lap. Aircraft in the Unlimited class, which consists almost entirely of both modified and stock World War II fighters, reach speeds of over 500 mph!
While a departure from our focus on vintage cars, air racing is billed as “The World’s Fastest Motorsport” so we needed to take a look for ourselves. Photographer Dennis Gray attended the 2009 Reno Air Races with a wide grin on his face and came back with some of the neatest motorsports shots we’ve ever seen, regardless of the moving target.
The 46th annual National Championship Air Races included several days of qualifying followed by four days of multi-aircraft heat racing, in addition to a world-class air show featuring the US Navy “Blue Angels” flying the F-18 Hornet.
The final day culminated with 22-year-old Steven Hinton edging out a lineup of veteran racers and past champions to become the youngest Unlimited Gold champion in event history. Hinton broke a record previously held by his father Steve Hinton, flying in last year’s defending champion, the legendary P-51 Mustang named “Strega.”
2009 Reno Air Race Winners:
Biplane Class: Tom Aberle, “Phantom,” 236 mph
Sport Class: David Sterling, N/A, 352.6 mph
Super Sport Class: John Sharp, “Nemesis,” 407.1 mph
Formula One Class: Thom Richard, “Invictus,” 241 mph
T-6 Class: Nick Macy, “Six Cat,” 237 mph
Jet Class: Curt Brown, “Viper,” 513.5 mph
Unlimited Class: Steven Hinton, “Strega,” 491.8 mph
For a complete list of official results and times, visit www.airrace.org.
2009 Reno Air Races Photo Gallery (Click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Wikipedia; photo credit: Dennis Gray]