"The course was extremely bumpy today as was expected with the gusty winds," Steven Hinton said after winning the Unlimited Gold race Sunday. "But right off the bat Bill Kerchenfaut was on my radio and was calling the time interval. So I'm immediately going from trying to widen the lead to being conservative.
"What I mean by that is flying the pylons a little bit wider and a little bit higher and not out to the deadlines. You don't want to give anybody grounds to protest or call a cut. So we just kept expanding the course and try to hold and lead."
Just organizing the race itself was a challenge both for the organizers as well as some pilots. Due to problems in the spring, only 14 unlimited racers were on hand.
One racer, Precious Metal, had to be flown in from Florida, a trip that was held up by bad weather in several areas. And it got to Reno only 20 hours before registration closed.
Then during qualifying Strega had a canopy implode and it took the crew several days to fabricate a new one. Due to a show line, cut pilot Matt Jackson had to run the Silver heat on two days to make it into the Gold main.
Another contender, 232, formerly September Fury, flown by former Shuttle commander Hoot Gibson was sidelined after major engine problems during Saturday's Unlimited Gold heat race.
Finally the Gold took to the air on Sunday afternoon. After the pace jet released the field Hinton charged leaving everyone in his wake.
Behind him Jackson got a head of steam in Strega and soon was in second place. Up front, Hinton, after turning a lap of 519.1 mph, worked to keep the 8 to 7.5 second lead intact.
Then in the last half of the race both Voodoo and Strega allowed slower racers to pass. With the new rules in place, both Hinton and Jackson had to be careful not to cut any pylons or cross any course deadlines.
In the end, Hinton crossed the line about 8 second ahead of Strega and claimed his fifth title in as many years.
When asked how this victory compares with his four other championships Hinton said, "They all mean a lot to me and each one has its own challenges that you overcome. But this was a unique challenge as the airplane had never been here before. Somebody keeps at it for 20 years, keeps throwing money at it as he has a passion for racing and winning but it paid off for him today and I'm so happy about that."
Later, owner Bob Button who was trying to sell Voodoo, his P-51 air racer, said, "Well we started in '95 and once I kind of realized I wasn't going to be the guy my excitement kind of waned. This is every exciting and I'm very happy for my crew."
Then crew chief, who has been involved with several winners, said, "This is a big one. I started with this team in 2009 and had engine problems, in 2010 no race, 2011 no race and in 2012 Bob decided to sell the airplane. Then he called in April and said, 'I'm thinking about racing,' so I said count me in and here we are."
Strega, the racer with the most Gold victories, was flown by Matt Jackson, who felt he could have won. After the race he said, "With three more laps we could have. I had a closing race on him (Hinton) but it was too much of a hole shot for him for me to make it up and with the traffic I didn't have the opportunity to make up the time."
While the Unlimiteds are the stars of the show, the closest race was staged by some of the smallest aircraft, the International Formula 1 Gold race. This class, as well as the Biplanes, uses a standing start to begin their races.
When the green waved four-time Steve Senegal, who chose the outside line took off. On the inside Vito Wypraechtiger, from Austria, got the jump and led the field around Pylon 1.
Senegal's aircraft usually gets a slightly slow start before before making up time. After the first lap he began to slice into the four-second advantage the leader had gotten.
Each lap, both planes got closer and closer with probably less than a half second separating them as they headed for the final turn. At the finish the winning distance was less than a plane length and probably even shorter but Wypraechtiger was able to hang on and score his first victory.
Back on the ground he said, "I got a good take off and I could see Chase or Steven but when I came into that first corner I expected to see some shadows on the ground but they never showed up so I just kept going on my line and get as much out of the engine as I could. I just tried to focus flying the line and get as much RPM out of that engine as I could, watching the temperatures carefully so we wouldn't pop it off.
"When we got the white flag he sneaked up on me so I just got defensive and thought, 'come on Steve you can't do this to me,' I knew he's going to fly a wide line and he just can't get me on that straight out of that turn."
Once back in the hanger, and to the cheers of everyone, he then proposed to his long time girlfriend Andrea.
Later Senegal said, "Obviously it was very close, it was a whisker and he was right there. At the end we came around pylon six, went a little wide, I couldn't go inside, banked up a little more so I didn't cut the deadline. It was just racing and he was able to hold that last second."
While some Nevada pilots have won in the past, most of the winners are from out of state. But this time a Fallon resident won the T-6 Gold race on Sunday.
Like most of the classes, this group uses an air start that sends them down the front straight. When released, Dennis Buehn took off with John Lohmar in hot pursuit.
Buehn was on a mission he wanted to be a four-time champion and soon had a several second gap, which he held for the entire event. Lohmar had to settle for the runner-up spot this year.
Back on the ground a delighted Buehn said, "Let's fly fast, fly low and let's turn left for the Reno Air Races 2013. Looks like we're going to be in the Gold awards championship place for first place."
In the afternoon the winds began to increase and made the pilots alter their lines around the course.
Buehn, when asked about the ride, said, " The air's pretty rough and it's pretty lumpy out there today. The wind's kicked up, I have to say you've got to watch it real close in the turns as the wind will knock you into a pylon real quick. We've got to pull a lot of G's we're pulling 4 to 4 and a half G's all the time on the back side, front side you've got to go real light."
Every since Tom Aberle arrived with his biplane named "Phantom," he's been almost unbeatable. And once again, after the green flag waved he just took off and may have lapped the entire field on his way to scoring another championship.
After the race he said, "Run was excellent. Not sure if I got them all, there might have been one left. Not bad, we'd prefer just a little wind from the north or the south to blow the wake turbulence off then I'd get a smoother ride."
Other gold winners were Pete Zaccagnino, who won the Jet gold and Sport gold winner Jeff Lavelle.
According to the organizers the crowds were up this year as where sales of pins, t-shirts and other items. Now the work begins for the 51st running of this race.
While challenges remain, the Reno Air Race Association (RARA) is optimistic about next year.
Next year's races will run Sept. 10-14 and videos from this year's races can be seen either on www.liveairshow.tv or archived on You Tube.
OTHER RACING NEWS
• Two oval tracks will be running this Saturday, both starting at 6 p.m. Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon has a full slate of cars including mud bogs while down at Quincy, Calif., the American Valley Speedways hosts the Timer Cup races that ends its points season.
• This weekend the SMRA series moves to the motocross track at Hawthorne. On Saturday, starting at noon, the Pee Wees, 5 beginners and Quads will race.
On Sunday, starting at 9 a.m., all the rest of the classes will get their chance on this fast and sandy track.
• Exit 28's motocross track will be open for practice from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
• The Busch brothers were busy this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. On Saturday Kyle dominated and won the Nationwide event then in Sunday's Cup race he ended up second while brother Kurt came from 16th to finish 4th.
50th Reno National Championship Air Races
Gold - 1. Steven Hinton, "Voodoo," 482.074, 2. Matt Jackson, "Strega", 474.926, 3. Sherman Smoot, "Czech Mate," 455.770, 4. Stewart Dawson, "Rare Bear," 5. Thom Richard, "Precious Metal," 6. Brain Sanders, "Dreadnought", 7. Curt Brown, "Sawbones," 8. Korey Wells, "Argonaut," 9. Brent Hisey, "Miss America."
Silver - 1. Dennis Sanders, "924", 2. John Bagley, "Old Yeller", 3. Doug Matthews, "The Rebel", 4. Brant Seghetti, "Sparky."
Gold - 1. Pete Zaccagnino, "Just Lucky," 509.896, 2. Rick Vandam, "American Spirit," 504.115, 3. Phil Fogg, "Fast Company," 4. Scott Krause, "Pole Dancer," 5. Cliff Magee, "Violated," 6. Vicky Benzing, "Reality Czech," 7. Mark Pracy, "Blank Czech."
Silver - 1. Curt Brown, "Robin 1," 412.869, 2. Scott Krause, "Predator," 3. Lachlan Onslow, "Hot Section," 4. Joe Gano, "Sluggo," 5. Lee Behel, "Miss Independence," 6. Mike Steiger, "Spirit of Freedom."
Gold - 1. Dennis Buehn, "Midnight Miss III," 245.559, 2. John Lohmar, "Radial Velocity," 244.638, 3. Chris Rushing, "Baron's Revenge," 4. John Zayac, "McDonald Racer," 5. Gene McNeely, "Baby Boomer."
Silver - 1. Joey "Gordo," Sanders, "Big Red," 229.134, 2. Greg McNeely, "Undecided," 3.John Krawczyk, "Abracadabra,",4. Vic Mann, "Gunslinger," 5. Rob Sandberg, "Honest Entry."
Bronze - 1. Michael Pfleger, "Midlife Madness, 213.617. 2. Terry Adams, "Bare Essentials," 3. Duane "Chip," Woods, "Ol Blue," 4. Lee Aman, "Eros," 5. John Johnson, "Playtime," 6. Thomas Baber, "Patches."
Gold - 1. Jeff LaVelle, "Race 39,"394.334, 2. John Parker, "Blue Thunder," 3. David Sterling, Lancair Legacy, 3. David Sterling, 4. Lynn Farnsworth, "Miss Karen III, " 5. Andrew Findlay, "One Moment," 6. Gary Mead, "Lucky Mojo 47," 7. Bob Wolstenholme, Lancair Legacy, 8. Lee Behel, "Breathless," 9. Brant Seghetti, "Miss Picabo."
Silver - 1. Tom McReynolds, "Poky," 308.760, 2. Vince Walker,"Modo Mio," 3. Ernie Sutter, "Jus Pass'n Thru," 4. Colleen Keller, "Poncho," 5. Alan Crawford, "Spirit of America," 6. Pete Zaccagnino, Lancair IV, 7. Vicky Benzing, "Cruse Missile," 8. Phillip "Earl" Hibler, "Babydoll."
Bronze - 1. Dave Morss,"Martin's Legacy," 271.699, 2. Tom McNerney, "Unleashed," 3. Bob Jeffrey, "Freedom 142," 4. Bob Mills, "Rocket Six," 5. Rick Vandam, "Greenstreak," 6. Richard Ogg, "Plastic Piglet," 7. Jason Rovey, RV8, 8. Stan Sutterfield, "Eight for Papa," 9. Shane Margraves, "Czechster."
Gold - 1. Tom Aberle, "Phantom," 254.242, 2. KarlGrove, "Drag Racer," 3. Jake Stewart, "Drag Racer," 4. Kirk Murphy, "Lady Luck," 5. Eric Zine, "Sunny Side Up," 6. Michael Stewart, "Devid Dancer, 7. David Roelofs, "Purse Santcher," 8.Tony Higa, (Tango-Tango.)
Silver - 1. Birch Entriken, "Joey," 2. Jeffrey Lo, "Miss Diane," 3. Mark Barber, "Shortcut," 4. Chris Schalch, "Herrin," 5. Aaron Burhoe, "Juicy Lips," 6. W. Byron Roberts , 7. John D'Alessandris, "Shyolt."
Bronze - 1. Brett Schuck, "Warriors Creed," 162.101, 2. Jeff Rose, "The Red Squirrel," 3. Matt Burrows, "It's About Time," 4. Casey Erickson, "Bat Outta Hell," 5. Jeffrey Lo, "Miss Diane," 6. Aaron Burnhoe, "Juicy Lips."
Gold - 1.Vito Wyprechtiger, "Scarlet Screamer," 240.256, 2.Steve Senegal, "Endeavor," 239.986, 3. Justin Phillipson, "Outrageous," 4. Lowell Slatter, "Fraed Naught," 5. Kevin Anderson, "Miss U," 6. Steve Temple, "Madness," 7. Jay Jones, "Quadnickel," 8. Elliot Sequin, "Wasabi."
Silver - 1. Matt Conklin, "Miss Demeanor," 2. Guillermo Parodi, "N-A-Rush," 3. Michael Mundell, "Second Wind," 4. Phillip Goforth, "Knotty Girl," 5. Kent Cassels, "Margaret June"