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Thread: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

  1. #1
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    Default What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    What were the best years of Reno? This is a totally subjective topic, but I'd love to find out what everyone's idea of the best racing years of Reno were, and why they thought that.

    Id like to take the results from this post and go back and look at a few things in the race results and see if there are any similarities from year to year of these "best" years in an effort to try to identify what might make a "Best" year. My hope is that there will be specific years that many people say were "best years" so I can look at those specific years in the race results and see what, if anything those years have in common. I'm looking for racing overall, but if there was something in the airshow part that made a year a stand out, that would be great to hear about as well.

    Will

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    First and foremost...I have woefully less experience at Reno than many on this forum so keep that in mind here! These are based on Sunday Gold (excpet 2014) but for me the also represent some good racing thru the week.

    2017: Great battle between Consalvi and The Kid
    2003: Yeah my first year but it did feature a nice head to head between Bear and Dago over 480mph on Sunday
    2008: Three UNL's over 470 average finish on Sunday. Seldom happened
    2014: The Finish...inspite of Stega DQ
    2006: Not the most competitive but September Fury winning was a highlight for me
    2012: Only because we could...


    Sorry I can't offer up much more than that. After all...I am in many respects the FNG compared to most everyone else on here!
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  3. #3

    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    Yes, Owen all that, and..... though Tiger?s DQ was irrelevant to the quality of that race.

    Best years? That?s a lot to ask. It?s all a blurry continuum. I don?t remember all the years, or really even the sequence, thru the desert sun, wind, snow, dust, beer and tequila, but here?s a few scattered highlights, further fogged by tonight?s beer and tequila.

    So many exciting T6 races wingtip to wingtip for 6 laps, might be for third or fourth, but not for those two guys.
    Pierre Wildman re-introducing the Vampire to the world of jet pylon racing and Zagannino making it work
    Miss Gianna pushing Tom Aberle until phantom finally gave up the ghost
    Unlimited medallion rounds.Even On Thursdays.
    Helicopters entertaining us by dropping illegally parked cars on the infield.
    Kent Pietsch dropping a tire on Paul Pobeereznys car
    Fat Albert, JATOs and the required fire trucks.
    The fire truck and crew that was on top of Rapid Travel 17 seconds after it came to a cartwheeling stop.
    Winners of races riding on fire trucks.
    The sternum pounding sound of the Bear with a three blade.
    The Harrier dance. No louder than an F4, really. But F4s don?t really hang around.
    The ever evolving and continuously interesting sport class.
    The introduction of STOL Drags to Reno
    The SAAB demo team. (So sad they wont be back ;-))
    The Patriots jet team, and the Breitling jet team, and all the jet teams in uniform.
    John Travolta doing a flyby in is 707. Then being denied by the air boss when he requested a second pass...
    A Corsair, a Spitfire, a B model mustang and a P-40 all rounding the pylons... yeah, a museum parade. But a damn good one.
    And the resilience of this unique American Gasoline Festival to survive despite encroaching suburbs, 9/11, Jimmy?s wreck, and a worldwide pandemic.

    See ya?ll in the pits on Thursday. Maybe Wednesday if I can get away with it.

    Pete

  4. #4

    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    I've only been 6 years so my sample size is small

    I walk away thinking "that was a good race" when I don't know the finishing order after half the laps have been run. Whether its a tight race for third or first, is less important than having a battle to watch. Obviously it all depends on the roster and the day but generally I make sure to watch IF1 gold, Sport silver-gold, T-6 silver-gold

    2014
    There was anticipation building as Strega and PM bumped up into the faster heats. Then the Saturday race was good and then even on Sunday PM was passing airplanes.

    2015 was my first year.
    Unlimited gold was solid for each race
    Jet gold was great

    2016
    T-6 gold
    Biplane gold fight for second was super close
    IF1 Bronze had close racing though the field all week and then Goforth chasing down Scott Holmes on Sunday
    IF1 gold was memorable for the first win of Fraed Naught

    2017
    Unlimited gold all week
    T-6 gold, first win by John Lohmar

    2018
    Sport gold heats between #30 and #39
    Sport silver was super close all week
    IF1 gold
    T-6 second win by John Lohmar by a nose

    2019
    IF1 gold
    "young" Thomas

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    Quote Originally Posted by CubersWrist View Post
    2014
    There was anticipation building as Strega and PM bumped up into the faster heats. Then the Saturday race was good and then even on Sunday PM was passing airplanes.
    Just wanted to start this by noting that Reno can't change it's formula too far to the point where races like these aren't possible. Before the server disaster, there was discussion about cutting out some of the early week action and only having a Gold on Sunday, Silver Saturday, etc... That really kills the anticipation that is RENO!

    Rant over, anyhow good thread Will.

    As a die hard Reno fan, each and every race is enjoyable because they all have their stories. Every year has a new element of suspense to it and that's what really gets me going. New planes finally being ready to race, returning planes testing out new equipment, veteran pilots trying out other classes or planes, it's all just so freakin' awesome to be a part of.

    But for now, focusing on the Unlimiteds for this part.

    Early 2000's: I was pretty young, but do remember the Dago vs. Bear days. They don't stick out to me, but I imagine anyone that has vivid memory of these days would say otherwise.

    2012-2013: Both awesome years with a healthy Unlimited gold contingent. The memorable part was definitely MJ working his way through the field in '13. Again, this CANNOT be taken away from Reno.

    For me, the top 3 races in recent memory are Bear's Friday win in 2015, "The Finish" in 2014, and Stevo vs. Jay in 2017. These three stick in my head because they weren't just good races, but they all had a really deep story to them that was playing out before our eyes. Bear's first win in years, Tiger back in the saddle for one last time, and Jay getting his real shot at gold and dethroning Stevo. INCREDIBLE times...

    That being said, I still think 2006-2011 were the peak of what was looking to be the future of Unlimited racing.

    2006: September Fury finally comes out on top
    2007: Rare Bear back on top, and the stuck throttle?! Excitement/anticipation/butterflies everything you could ask for.
    2008: Just look at the qual speeds in 2008. SERIOUSLY?!?!?! What a year, and of all the recent winners Strega is the one that wins it all?! Wild!
    2009: Really just a cool year because of RRIII for me. One of my all-time favorites.
    2010: The race that never was. Man I know we all wish it happened...

    And 2011: Now this is what an Unlimited class was supposed to look like. 2011 was going to put Reno back in the spotlight and the Gold contingent was absolutely nuts. HOT Strega, HOT Voodoo, The Bear, September Fury, Furias, a very soon to be HOT Precious Metal, AND the one and only Ghost. This was setting the stage for the next decade + at Reno, and very well could've brought back Dago if things didn't go the way they did. Sucks. Really just sucks.
    *My Air Race Site*

    Reno from '99 to '19

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    The halcyon days of Reno was a 20 year period between 1975 and 1995. I know that's more than 15 years, and I know there were good racing years both before and after that period. But those were the years that saw the biggest growth in spectator attendance, the largest fields at the upper end of the competition spectrum in all the classes, the most commercial sponsorships on/for racers, and most important, fairly frequent television coverage between ABC's Wide World of Sports and ESPN. It also saw a regular smattering of air races outside of Reno that supplemented the National Championships.

    There have been 'faster' years. There have been years with great races. And there have been some years where it looked like big-comeback's were in the works for the health of the event. But there were was also a 10 year period that saw events cancelled due to weather, accidents and a pandemic that effectively buried any comeback.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Jim View Post
    The halcyon days of Reno was a 20 year period between 1975 and 1995. I know that's more than 15 years, and I know there were good racing years both before and after that period. But those were the years that saw the biggest growth in spectator attendance, the largest fields at the upper end of the competition spectrum in all the classes, the most commercial sponsorships on/for racers, and most important, fairly frequent television coverage between ABC's Wide World of Sports and ESPN. It also saw a regular smattering of air races outside of Reno that supplemented the National Championships.

    There have been 'faster' years. There have been years with great races. And there have been some years where it looked like big-comeback's were in the works for the health of the event. But there were was also a 10 year period that saw events cancelled due to weather, accidents and a pandemic that effectively buried any comeback.
    Big Jim is exactly right. There were other races prior to 75' that were good overall as well and few since 1995 that have been standouts. But if you weren't able to be at Reno during the years Jim mentions, you may not be able to understand the buzz that the sport had during that period. It was of course "small time" in comparison to other motorsports, particularly auto racing. But it was bigger than it had been since Cleveland and bigger generally than it has been since 1995.

    The excitement on the ramp was of a different magnitude - mostly much higher than it has been for the last 25 years and certainly far surpassing that in the last 15 years or so. Everything from fan speculation to insider scuttlebutt and not a small amount of exaggeration (often "tongue-in-cheek") was heightened. Watching arrivals prior to race week was a sport itself. And in the days before the Internet and sites like Wayne's, you could never be sure just who would or wouldn't make it to the the ramp for qualifying in a given year. You had to be there.

    There were downsides too, including the special brand of clashing egos that Reno has always brought to the fore. But it had an edge not seen since. And the racing, though up and down in terms of competitiveness, usually had an element of uncertainty that made it at least somewhat harder to predict.

    In the earlier days in particular, the racers had fun with each other on the ramp and in town in a way that was much diminished later on. In the period pre-dating 1975 the smaller size of the fields (though still larger than today usually) and the closer-knit social atmosphere meant that you were as likely to see Formula 1 racers chatting with the Unlimited and T-6 class pilots throughout race week as you were to see them talking amongst themselves.

    Reno itself was a much different place for most of the period Jim mentions as well and, though it's easy to view through rose-colored glasses, generally more fun in my view. That contributed to the atmosphere on the ramp in its own way. There's more to observe but I'll leave it at that.

    None of this is to say that if you've enjoyed your experience of going to Reno for 5 years, 10 years or 20 years, you should look back on it differently. It's just that over the two decades that Jim speaks of air racing got its party on in a way it hasn't since. Post 1995, the buzz started to fade and a hangover started to set in.

  8. #8

    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Jim View Post
    The halcyon days of Reno was a 20 year period between 1975 and 1995. I know that's more than 15 years, and I know there were good racing years both before and after that period. But those were the years that saw the biggest growth in spectator attendance, the largest fields at the upper end of the competition spectrum in all the classes, the most commercial sponsorships on/for racers, and most important, fairly frequent television coverage between ABC's Wide World of Sports and ESPN. It also saw a regular smattering of air races outside of Reno that supplemented the National Championships.

    There have been 'faster' years. There have been years with great races. And there have been some years where it looked like big-comeback's were in the works for the health of the event. But there were was also a 10 year period that saw events cancelled due to weather, accidents and a pandemic that effectively buried any comeback.
    Big Jim,
    Wow! Some of my favorite years, outside of those years there.

    1965 was especially neat due to the raw atmosphere of being there. There really was a learning curve going in and even as a 6 year old kid polishing the canopy of the Mustang my Dad was racing that year a lot. I can still smell Supe Hoisington's cigars. And the dirt, every time s plane ran up there was lots of dirt. The guys that were there that were starting to get the feeling of the lay of the land were Darryl Greenameyer and Chuck Lyford. Everyone else was just there.

    I can come up with my 15 favorite years of Reno, but I feel that will require 15 additional posts to cover. Which will probably require Big Jim to come and correct me on facts that I will undoubtedly skew towards my memory.....

    1969, first year with the "Big Stick" My Dad had a friend in George Byard, George Byard owned Aircraft Cylinder and Turbine in Sun Valley, California. Aircraft Cylinder was in the radial engine business. George gave Lyle a 3350-26WC to use in the Bearcat for air racing. George told Lyle that as long as it was fun, and as long as Lyle would provide the labor, the engines were free. That was the beginning of how the Bearcat had a sponsor that lasted for over thirty years.

    Come on Brad, let's take a trip down memory lane. I'll bring my memories, you bring the facts.
    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 04-29-2021 at 03:04 PM.
    John Slack

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    John,

    Your memories are priceless young man!

    Nice to hear your part of the Reno Air Race story.

    Everyone that has attended Reno has some (Section 3 has many).

    Thank you

    Last edited by Desertdawg; 04-29-2021 at 03:24 PM. Reason: typo

  10. #10

    Default Re: What were the top 15 Best racing years of Reno?

    Quote Originally Posted by Desertdawg View Post
    John,

    Your memories are priceless young man!

    Nice to hear your part of the Reno Air Race story.

    Everyone that has attended Reno has some (Section 3 has many).

    Thank you

    Section 3 is part of my memories as well, it was Sunday and we had ended up in the Bronze due to DNF finishes on Friday and Saturday. Still at that time if you won the Bronze, you could choose to elevate your self to the Silver giving up first place money and position in the Bronze. But then you could win the Silver, move up to the Gold on the same system. We were in the basement in the Bronze with an airplane that we were sure was fast enough to win the Gold. We prepped all morning to be ready to run the whole day, three races, three postflight inspections, three preflight inspections and everything was ready to go. Lyle ran the Bronze and we burned a piston due to a piston oiler that had become clogged with aluminum from a burnt piston on Saturday. Mac Mckinney and Mel Gregoire were up all night Friday and Saturday changing cylinders. We got down to the end of the ramp across from CIA after Lyle may dayed out of the Bronze. As we towed the airplane back all of us dejected. Lyle told me to ride the brakes and he jumped into the back of the pickup. We were towing back and a couple of folks in section 3 started to clap, someone yelled out "Next year Lyle!" We kept on towing back down to the pits with our broken Bear. I thought well if Lyle was in the cockpit he would have waved, so I did. Almost immediately the Section 3 area stood up and gave us a standing ovation, as we went down the ramp in front of the stands each section joined in until almost the whole stands were clapping for us. Lyle had stood up in the back of the pickup and waved as well. Some of the shy Section 3 people stopped by the pit during the day and said they knew we had intended to run all three races and just wanted to show their appreciation for our planned efforts.


    Big Jim That was 1981.
    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 04-30-2021 at 01:50 PM.
    John Slack

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