(16 pix - click any pic to enlarge)
The winning streak for Steven Hinton and Strega continued as the pair breezed thru qualifying, the individual Heat races, and then the Gold race (Sunday September 16, 2012) to become the 2012 Reno Gold Unlimited champion! Congratulations to Team Strega for being fast, dependable and consistent... three things hard to achieve in the world of Unlimited air racing.
But the real winner at Reno 2012 was the event itself - along with all the fans around the world that are passionate about the human desire to push ourselves to the limit. Reno 2012 was safe, extremely well run, and had sufficient attendance to show everyone that the world's fastest motorsport is prepared to move into the future and toward the 50th anniversary for next year 2013. Given the challenges encountered in the last year since the Galloping Ghost tragedy, it's truly amazing that the event was able to run this year. The hard work and dedication of so many has kept this long standing tradition alive and renewed our spirits. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of the event once again and I look forward to many more years of the National Championship Air Races!
Here are 14 more pictures from the race on Sunday to give you a little feel for how well things went. The weather was perfect and the racing was great. Hoot Gibson finished second in September Fury and Dennis Sanders finished third in good ole Dreadnought. Thom Richard in Precious Metal was out of the race after just a lap or two when it was discovered that an inner gear door had left the airplane and was slowing it down significantly, and Stewart Dawson in Rare Bear pulled up and out later in the race. Both airplanes landed without incident bringing the 2012 Reno Air Races to a safe conclusion. Brent Hisey in Miss America and Curt Brown in Sawbones filled out the field of seven Unlimited Gold racers.
With the 2012 event a great success, and the talk that Strega will be retiring now, the future is wide open for Unlimited air racing. It'll to be interesting to see where Steven winds up and if more Unlimited teams will emerge as it's clear that air racing is very much alive and well.
Rare Bear looked like it was gonna have a great year with a fast qualifying speed but things never quite came together for the airplane and Stewart Dawson. The Bear remains a huge crowd favorite tho and the friendly rivalry with her stable-mate September Fury (both owned by Rod Lewis) made for a great week of racing.
Thank you Reno Air Racing Association for a job well done.