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50th National Championship Air Races wraps up historic week

The National Championship Air Races wrapped up its historic 50th event on Sunday afternoon with a thrilling Breitling Unlimited Gold Championship race that ended with four-time defending champion Steve Hinton edging out one of the best racing fields in the event’s history for his fifth straight victory. Hinton, from Chino, Calif., was piloting the popular P-51 Mustang “Voodoo,” racing against his former plane, the legendary P-51 Mustang, “Strega,” owned by famed air racer, Bill “Tiger” Destefani. By day’s end, Gold Champions were crowned in all six race classes.

Winners included:

* Biplane Class: Tom Aberle, Fallbrook, CA, “Phantom,” 254.24 mph

* Sport Class: Jeff LaVelle, Mukilteo, WA, “Race 39,” 394.33 mph (time of release, results unofficial)

* Formula One Class: Vito Wypraechtiger, Bern, Switzerland, “Scarlet Screamer,” 240.26 mph

* T-6 Class: Dennis Buehn, Carson City, NV “Midnight Miss III,” 245.56 mph

* Jet Class: Pete Zaccagnino, Park City Utah, “Just Lucky,” 509.9 mph

* Unlimited Class: Steve Hinton, Chino, CAB, “Voodoo,” 482.1 mph

“This year was truly an honor for the Reno Air Races,” said Mike Houghton CEO and president of Reno Air Racing Association. “We welcomed some of the best aviators in the industry to race, watch and/or take part in our 50th event. We appreciate all of the fans, competitors, performers, volunteers and sponsors for making this a memorable year.”

For fan photos, check out the photo stream!

For a complete list of official results and times, log onto

Historic 50th National Championship Air Races takes to the skies this week

Fifty years after racing planes first took to northern Nevada’s skies in 1964, the National Championship Air Races begins this week with a one-of-a-kind celebration of flight. Boasting a full slate of top-notch entertainment and aerobatics and promising one of its most competitive and high-profile racing fields in recent memory, ‘the world’s fastest motorsport’ has an array of events and activities planned to commemorate its landmark year including a rare United States performance by the Breitling ‘Jetman.’ And, it’s not without compelling storylines, as defending four-time Unlimited and Warbird Racing Class Breitling Gold champion, Steve Hinton, takes the helm of the fan favorite P-51 mustang ‘Voodoo,’ racing against the plane he’s flown to victory four times previously, the legendary ‘Strega’ now flown by longtime racer, Matt Jackson. While some qualifying takes place early in the week, the event officially gets underway on Wednesday, Sept. 11 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 15. Tickets are on sale now at

Air Races 2012

In addition to six racing classes of intense, head-to-head competition that culminates in a race for the coveted Breitling Gold Unlimited and Warbird Championship trophy and a share of $1 million in prize money, this year’s 50th Reno Air Races features one of the top private demonstration teams in the world, the L-39 Patriot Jet Team, comprised of former pilots from the United States Navy Blue Angels and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds who will  provide four days of awe-inspiring performances. Joining the Patriot Jet Team and Breitling ‘Jet Man’ making only his second North American appearance, are some of the top civilian air show performers in the world, including Kent Pietsch, Clay Lacy and Jim Pietz, performing incredible aerobatics throughout the week.

When racing gets underway, Air Race fans and aviation enthusiasts will recognize some of the most famous aircraft and pilots flying today, including restored World War II planes ‘Rare Bear,’ ‘Precious Metal,’ ‘Dreadnought,’ ‘Czech Mate,’ ‘Miss America,’ ‘Ole Yeller,’ ‘Argonaut’ and ‘Sawbones.’

Racing pilots joining Hinton and Jackson include Stu Dawson, Thom Richard, Brent Hisey, brothers Dennis and Brian Sanders, Rod Lewis, Sherman Smoot, space shuttle astronauts ‘Hoot’ Gibson and Curt Brown, Will Whiteside, Tom Aberle and northern Nevadan Dennis Buehn. In all, RARA expects more than 100 competitors and performers to participate in the historic celebration this week, in addition to the popular military static display and the National Aviation Heritage Invitational.

Event organizers also announced last month the addition of a very special fundraising dinner and celebration on Saturday, Sept. 14, which will mark the 50th anniversary by paying tribute to a collection of military, aviation and air race legends. Some of the pilots and figures scheduled to be in attendance at the National Championship Air Races Evening with Mavericks and Legends Fundraising Dinner include famed pilot Bob Hoover, considered to be one of the top pilots in history; retired United States Air Force General Ron Fogleman, former Chief of Staff for the United States Air Force; and Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher. The dinner will also feature a handful of pilots who competed at the first Air Races in 1964, including World War II veteran Clay Lacy and Air Race legend Daryl Greenameyer (Hoover also performed at the inaugural Air Races). Sponsorships and seating for the National Championship Air Races Evening with Mavericks and Legends Fundraising Dinner is open to the public. Table sponsorships include access to a private VIP reception with honorees and Gold Champion Sponsorships include the opportunity to have an honoree sit at your table during the event program. Space is limited. To reserve your space now or for more information, please visit or call (775) 972-6663.

The 50th annual National Championship Air Races is the world’s premier air racing event. The races take place this year from Sept. 11 through Sept. 15. Tickets are on sale now by phone at (775) 972-6663 or online at

Reno National Championship Air Races flies into town

militaryplanes600It’ like Nascar racing, but a lot more dangerous …. and a lot faster.

Daredevil pilots take to the sky during the Reno National Championship Air Races this week (Sept. 16-20), bringing the world’ best pilots together to compete for prize money and bragging rights at Stead Field north of Reno, Nev.

The annual event enters its 64th year, offering spectators a jaw-dropping spectacle of speed – racers reach up to 500 mph, the fastest-moving machines in motorsports – as they jockey around pylons placed throughout the field. The view from the grandstands is up close and personal, and the action is non-stop. Several different classes of aircraft compete throughout the week, and between races a procession of aviation-related events, from acrobatic performances to static aircraft shows – including a performance by the Blue Angels – keeps the entertainment going. Come out and celebrate one of the best shows in the sky.


Sept. 16

  • Qualifying begins at 8 a.m., with race heats throughout the day and into the late afternoon, including: Biplane, F-1 Stage, Jets, T-6 and Sport. The Blue Angels perform circling maneuvers at 1:15.

Sept. 17

  • Races start at 8 a.m., with the Biplane heat kicking off the action. Following morning racing, performer David Martin takes to the sky at 9:50 a.m., with racing and performances throughout the day, including: Patty Wagstaff, Smoke and Thunder (Red Eagles) and the Blue Angels.

Sept. 18

  • Races in all classes are held all day, 8:25 a.m.-4:10 p.m. Special performances include: The Red Eagles, Patty Wagstaff, Smoke and Thunder, Blue Angels, David Martin and a military demo.

Sept. 19

  • Racing from 8:25 a.m.-4 p.m. in all classes, with performances by David Martin, Patty Wagstaff, another military demo, Smoke and Thunder, the Blue Angels and the Red Eagles.

Sept. 20

  • Final day of white-knuckle racing in all classes, and more acrobatic performances and military demonstrations. The final race, the Unlimited Gold Race, will be held at 4:05 p.m.

    For complete information on the Reno National Championship Air Races, log on to

    National Championship Air Races video

    One of Reno-Tahoe’s premier events, the National Championship Air Races, is under way at Stead Field near Reno. This weekend promises some white-knuckle excitement as some of the world’s best pilots race for bragging rights – And the can’t-miss event also showcases stunt-flying and static displays. Check out this video, courtesy of, from 2007: