A Report From the Smokehouse

There’s been plenty of time to wander the pits at Reno today and ogle the machinery. We thought you’d like a peak at the cleaned-up Quadnickel and its snazzy candy apple lace paint.

Today has been an unusual day at the air races, if only because wildfire smoke has taken over the schedule. Visibility has ranged from, “Um, I can see the pylons at the far end of the course because I know where they are,” to ashtray opaque.

Nevertheless, there has been some action as the capricious visibility waxes and wanes. Given their ultra-tight course the STOL Drag crew was about worn out early in the day by frantic organizers desperate to put something up for the light crowd in attendance. We did our best to catch the action but somehow managed to be at that end of the airfield between STOL Drag sessions and were therefore otherwise engaged during the action.

A close-up of Quadnickel’s turtleneck shows the intricate and difficult to achieve lace painting technique. Owner-pilot Jake Speidel and crew chief Fernando Solorio have been garnering plenty of favorable attention from the new do.

Best pylon racing of the day was a Formula One Gold heat where the evenly matched Justin Meaders in Limitless and Steve Temple in Fraed Naught ran an intense clinic in ultra-tight racing. As expected, Temple got the lead from the standing start as his engine/propeller combination has a slight edge there. But Meaders didn’t come to Reno to run second and determined to make a race of it he dug deep and ran right on Temple’s wing. The intensely close lapping delivered the barest of speed advantages to Meaders who eventually squeaked past. The pass was so close Meaders couldn’t move in and down as desired. In the end this helped when lapping traffic as he was already outside and hadn’t wasted any real estate moving in and out of the fast line.

Post race a happy Meaders reported a trouble free, and very fast 247 mph run. Temple posted a 246 mph race average and noted a bad mag that caused some random misfiring. So we’re set for another rematch tomorrow, hopefully with healthy machinery and, of course, as little smoke as possible.

Justin Phillipson in No Strings Attached won today’s Silver heat race at 229 mph to move back into the Gold race tomorrow.

Otherwise there have been no Biplane, Sport, Jet or Unlimited racing. We saw some T-6’s go aloft but quickly return. There was a military jet demo along with several attempts to put together demonstration “races” but at our deadline none have gotten off the ground. The Biplanes chose not to run because they want five miles of visibility to keep their post-race recovery safe. “Recovery” is race lingo for landing the race planes after their contest and while there are well-practiced procedures in place things tend to improvisation as pilots are busy fiddling with baulky, hot engines, traffic and lost situational awareness as their attention is called back and forth from inside the cockpit to outside. The faster classes really must have good visibility, so no mystery why they did not run today.

Hoping for clearer skies tomorrow.

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Tom Wilson
Pumping avgas and waxing flight school airplanes got Tom into general aviation in 1973, but the lure of racing cars and motorcycles sent him down a motor journalism career heavy on engines and racing. Today he still writes for peanuts and flies for fun.


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