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Thread: 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    San Diego, CA

    Default 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

    Alright everyone, back to our regularly scheduled "Silly Season" programming. This has easily become my favorite thread to make every year, and as usual, Sport is looking competitive as ever. There has been some recent news for a handful of racers, and PRS has added some more clarity about what we can expect this year. Please add anything you know!

    Something that Reno 2019 made clear was that even if a plane looks fast on paper, it takes a HUGE amount of effort to get to the top. 2019 was the first time I've felt like there were at least a half dozen planes capable of 400+, and that hope fell flat. That being said, this year's list will be sorted by perceived potential/performance based on history, rather than by race number. Only the aircraft that have confirmed their likelihood of attending, or are very likely to attend are listed. The speculative/unconfirmed list of aircraft is further below.

    Enough explanation, here is a full and unbiased report of all the Sport Gold racers for Reno 2021!

    *CONFIRMED* - (By Perceived Potential/Performance)

    (1.) #30 (N115YP) ~Lancair Legacy~ "One Moment": After dominating the 2019 races, One Moment Racing turned to their orange and white Lancair Super Legacy during the layoff intending to make it more racer and less sport plane. The interior is now down to the bare carbon (finally), and an instrument upgrade/lightening has seen a complete ship’s rewiring. The deep-breathing twin-turbo 550 Continental had 300 hours total time on it, 15 of those at over 60 inches of manifold pressure, so it was refreshed by Pinnacle Aircraft Engines. This included a new crankshaft as the team’s brain trust calculated the stresses involved required it (crankcases and crankshafts are expendables at this power level). While they were at it, Pinnacle built a spare engine. “Normally we’ve come with two turbos, 10 pistons and eight cylinders [as spares], but now we’ll have a whole new engine to install,” says Findlay. Furthermore, after giving clear signs it was crying uncle, Findlay’s 3-blade McCauley propeller has been upgraded to a 4-blade assembly. “McCauley designed the original prop at 750 hp,” says Findlay, “but now we’re around 900 hp [and] the three-blade hub was starting to pull the hub bolts out. After every run we checked the prop torque [and] we needed a new solution as it was always loosening.” Having exhausted McCauley’s six-bolt inventory, the prop maker moved to their eight-bolt, four-blade hub, which is well inside its power envelope at 1000 hp. As the typical manually controlled, highly boosted Sport Gold engines have required a trained octopus to handle all the toggles and levers during the intensely busy race starts, increasing automation has been working its way into Sport engine management. One Moment Racing started a couple years back by moving from Continental’s mechanical fuel management to SDS’ well-regarded digitally controlled spark and EFI system. For 2021 they’ve added an SDS ancillary system to digitally control the water/methanol ADI. So, instead of a big slug of “water” during the start, the boost-referenced SDS system ramps the ADI in as needed while simultaneously leaning the air/fuel mixture accordingly. (By Tom Wilson of Kitplanes)

    (2.) #39 (N123AJ) ~Glasair III~ "Race 39": Holding multiple championships and Sport Gold’s outright fastest lap at 410 mph, Sport’s leading veteran Jeff LaVelle is a perennial threat. However, turbo oiling and especially landing gear frustrations have dogged his Glasair III the last several years. The turbos were fixed a while ago, and LaVelle is sticking to his 580 Lycoming’s mechanically fuel injected and twin magneto combination for now. But the landing gear continues to consume the two-year hiatus with inspecting, researching, redesigning and reworking what amounts to the entire wing. In short, the stock Glasair landing gear, which LaVelle rates as workable if not optimum on a 250-mph airplane and not suitable at all on a 400-mph race plane, suffered from a broken piano hinge (hidden and difficult to find) and has been replaced by Robbie Grove’s hydraulic system. In one of many examples of the elevated sportsmanship in air racing, Robbie, who’s partnered with Jim Rust and is thus a major Sport competitor to LaVelle, has been instrumental in getting the new landing gear fitted, notes LaVelle. No small task to retrofit to an existing plane, this has required wing removal and redesigning not only the gear, but the flight controls and fuel system due to packaging issues. While he was at it, LaVelle has completely faired in his flaps (they’ve been bolted shut for years) for a bit of aerodynamic cleanup. (By Tom Wilson of Kitplanes)

    (3.) #24 (N430R) ~Glasair III~ "Race 24": Jim along with racing partner Robbie Grove of Grove Aircraft already showed the pair’s Lycoming-powered Glasair has the stuff to run over 400 mph in 2019. Since then they’ve built a fresh 540-based engine, tweaked the Airflow Performance fuel system, ditched intercooling in favor of less-restrictive ADI and have a new Whirl Wind propeller in development that should debut at the races. There are no airframe changes to the strictly-race Glasair III this year, but don’t be surprised if Rust plays the spoiler. (By Tom Wilson of Kitplanes)

    (4.) #28 (N105PZ) ~Lancair Legacy~ "Coming In Hot": Pete Zaccagnino returns in his "Super" Legacy after a very interesting first year in 2018. Let's see if this plane can prove itself this year!

    (5.) #42 (N42XT) ~NXT~ "Relentless": Relentless is back! I am always one to give credit where credit is due, and Kevin deserves an applause for finally getting Relentless back in shape. Sunday's 2nd place finish was a tad under 360mph, but for the first year back with a refreshed NXT, Kevin did a great job keeping up with the competition. I'm excited to see what else Kevin has in store for his quest to reclaim the Sport Gold for the NXT airframe. *2021 Update - Relentless has recently been listed for sale again, but Kevin does plan on campaigning the NXT at Reno this year. The most recently disclosed mod is a handcrafted carbon fiber intake tube. Very fancy stuff!*

    (6.) #3 (N477CM) ~Glasair III~ "Mojo": Mojo takes on a new race number alongside her new owner this year - Sean VanHatten! After a devastating (and terrifying) qualifying incident in the Havoc Air Racing Super Glasair III at Reno 2019, it was time for Sean to decide what the next move is. That next move is spelt M-O-J-O. Word on the block, Sean is VERY confident that Mojo is going to be a force this year. Let's wait and see?

    (7.) #67 (N167BP) ~Thunder Mustang~ "Swiss Thunder": Although Swiss Thunder has never been as fast at Blue Thunder II, it's just a matter of time until the team gets this plane dialed in to aim for the top spot. 2019 saw a race-prepared Falconer V12 dropped in, but troubles plagued the engine from qualifying until a DNF on Saturday put them out for 2019. If there is any Thunder Mustang that can pick up where Blue Thunder II left off, this would be that plane. Fingers crossed the race-prepared Falconer can hold through race week just once to see what Swiss Thunder can really do. *2021 Update - I have not heard any recent news about modifications or experimental race-prepared V12's, but fingers crossed there is some secret stuff in the works*

    (8.) #181 (N181KG) ~Lancair Legacy~ "GA1": For radical engines Karl Grove’s stylishly dark gray Super Legacy has everyone beat. The ex-biplane racer is a principle at AC Aero Engines and at our deadline was just getting his liquid-cooled Centurion conversion back from engine assembly at Team ASAP. With the mechanically more rigid and likely detonation-resistant cylinders, Karl is talking over 100 inches of manifold pressure from 568 cubic inches, which ought to deliver spectacular results in any event. Karl skipped the PRS “test session” in June to continue building his plane, but says he’ll be racing in September. We’re expecting the usual teething issues and sneaking up on the boost this year, but the potential is huge. (By Tom Wilson of Kitplanes)

    (9.) #? (N#?) ~Lancair Legacy~ "?": Another guy working around the clock to make 2021 is Tom McNerney building a Super Legacy. Aided by Findlay—“I gave him all the tricks: the belly mod, super-clean airframe…titanium bolts. He’s built such an amazing airplane; he’s an amazing builder. This will be their first year [with the Legacy], so [expect] teething pains but the project is solid.”—McNerney has long campaigned a Lancair 360, so he’s no rookie. One highlight is a wicked-fast but short-lived “NXT” Hartzell propeller, and by his own admission, Tom has built a monster Lycoming 580 “with a lot of my own parts.” Using Airflow Performance injection with 12 fuel injectors and his own custom draw-through turbo layout, Tom says, “It could be a gold winner if you want to risk the engine, which I don’t!” His plan is to run a solid third or fourth, but we know how that goes when the fast guys are just a little ahead of you. (By Tom Wilson of Kitplanes)

    Updates to follow!
    Last edited by GRNDP51; 08-12-2021 at 03:07 PM.
    *My Air Race Site*

    Reno from '99 to '19

  2. #2

    Default Re: 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

    While he won't be in the gold, it's still a development. Paul Downing #36 has a new firewall forward. He had a schedule conflict that kept him from racing in 2019, but looking for ways to go faster for 2021.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

    Olivier is adding nitrous to his Epsilon

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Pacific Northwest

    Default Re: 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

    Sorry, stupid admin functions still wonky, attempted to delete duplicate post, wound up doing both.. Problem might truly lie with MS Edge browser's terrible cache process... Sometimes it just will not release wat "was" there and keeps showing it despite control + refresh, which *should* flush the browser cache, it does not!

    Found this out when the site was regenerating from being dead.. No matter what I tried to do, it kept taking me to a default page that had been there during the migration process but was NOT there once it finished.. edge cached it and kept sending me to the wrong server!

    Anyway... there ya go... sorry!
    Wayne Sagar
    "Pusher of Electrons"

  5. #5

    Default Re: 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

    Race #30 has a 4-blade prop now (sounds totally different and quiet). Lots of other updates across the class.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002

    Default Re: 2021 Sport Gold Synopsis

    Jeff Lavelle has been making a lot of changes to the landing gear system requiring a lot of changes in the wing. He may not be finished in time to make it this year.

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