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"A Race To Remember"

The 39th Annual National Championship Air Races and Air Show, September 12-15, 2002

One thing had all the competitiors and visitors in common - a slightly strange feeling in the stomach - due to the fact that this years Reno Races (Training started on the 9th of Sept.) took place exactly one year after the shocking and unbelievable terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. After the event had to be called off last year because of the extensive airtraffic restrictions over the USA as a reaction to the attacks, the organizers had announced a show for this year that was supposed to be bigger and better than ever before. That was of course no easy task for the Reno Air Racing Association lead by their President and CEO Mike Houghton and Chairman Joey Scolari. Last years cancellation had caused a considerable financial loss. But the high hopes of the Air Racing fans from around the world were more than fullfilled by this years outstanding event. The official program that lasted for full four days left absolutely no chance to relax or have a break. While the Unlimited Class, as the most spectacular was getting more and more thinned out with every day after a series of accidents and technical problems, the newly formed L-39 "Jet-Class" had a smooth premiere without any complications.  And while in the Biplane, Formula1 and AT-6 Classes no incidents were beeing reported, the Sports Class had to face several accidents. After two crashes with only minor damages, the fatal crash of the Sports Class pilot Tommy Rose overshadowed the second day of the event. The Reno Races 2002 pushed the organizers towards their limit: 4 days with well over a hundred thousand visitors, an atmosphere of a gigantic funfair - that`s how it must have been in the 1920s to 1930s as the jobless pilots of WWI were joining the air races to earn some money.  This indescribable atmosphere has been preserved and is still present at the Reno Races of our times. But please take a look for yourself...
The Race Courses: Most of the courses at the 39th Reno Air Races remained the same as the course layouts that were flown since the year 2000. The enormous difference in the top speeds of the race classes, starting at 200 mph (Biplanes) up to 500 mph (Unlimited) - in between the T-6 class (230 mph), the Formula One (245 mph) and the Sports Class (330 mph), completed by the newly formed Jet class (450 mph), makes it necessary to have four different race courses to keep the lap times of the different classes nearly equal. To take a look at the four courses please refer to the picture.  Racing Course 2002
The Rules:   Fly Low! Fly Fast! Turn Left! These are the three basic rules. The rules are alltogether very complicated and as in a sports league, the best competitors move up and the last move down. To overtake someone you always have to use the outer lane so that the pilot that overtakes the other always has a good view on the slower plane. You are interested in the details of the regulations - please send us your questions - we are looking forward to answer them! 
The Prize Money:  800.000 US$ meant a new record for the prize money in the year 2002 - an increase of 60% since 1995.  More than 565.000 US$ was supposed for the Unlimited Class and the winner of this class, the Team Dago Red, received at least 130.000 US$. You won`t be getting rich by winning the competition then even the high performance engine of a top racers costs more than that. The T-6 Class received a  share of 77.000 US$, the Formula One 72.000 US$, the Sport Class 46.000 US$ and the Biplane Class 40.000 US$ of the total prize money. 
The Competitors:    Each team that takes part consists of one or more pilots and a crew. While at other racing events as the Formula One or Indy Series this wouldn`t be possible at the Reno Air Races you can take a closer look in the pit lane between the races. The pits are always are always very busys and bustling with activity because especially the high performance engines are very sensitive and need a lot of maintenance. The technical wizards of the teams manage it to get more than the double horse powers out of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine with it`s standard 1.490 hp. Rumors say that the top teams use engines exceeding 4.000 hp`s! With a bit of luck you even get into conversation with the jockeys of the worlds fastest piston engine planes and get to know the test pilots, astronauts, millionaires, doctors, lawyers, pensioners, former fighter pilots and flight captains. 

Part1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

English Language available for all Parts now !!!


Formula 1 Start While the aircraft of the Formula 1 are pushed silently and by hand to the take off...
Harte Arbeit A real airrace reporter doesn`t complain - not even about the merciless hot desert sun (as Jan and Frauke from )...
Unlimited Start ...the aircraft of the Unlimited Class gained some more attention. 
Tarantel ...or the always lurking danger of wild animals...
Cloud Dancer And while Jimmy Leeward flew lower   with every training lap...
Airshow ...while at the same time only some hundred feet away on the gigantic stands...
Critical Mass ...Tom Dwelle got lower then he ever wanted, after the undercarriage of his "Critical Mass" gave way during taxiing.
Julie Clark ...the gaping crowds were watching the breathtaking performances as for example the aerobatic display of Julie Clark...
Miss America It came even worse for Brent Hisey and his legendary "Miss America" - after a succesful test flight in the evening... 
Wall of Fire ...or the famous "Wall of Fire" of the US Navy.
Miss America ...a very sad to look at "Miss A" on the next morning. 
Heritage Flight Not to forget the formation flypasts of the "Heritage Flight" which made the hearts of the aviation fans beat faster...
Rare Bear The longingly expected airracing legend "Rare Bear"  was not taking part in anything more than some ground tests...
P-63 also this very rare P-63 Kingcobra, participant of the "Rolls Royce Heritage Trophy"...
Jet Race ...and the participants of the newly formed Jet Class  completed its laps as they had never done anything else.
Me 109 ...or this Me 109, that was built under license in Spain, which parked all days and nights quite lonely on the apron.
Duell Sport Class Very close duels and an outstanding champion in the Sports Class. Airracing legend Darryl Greenamyer (in the background) had a triumphant return. 

Please klick here for >>>Part 2




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