And We’re Racing (for awhile)

Alan Hoover in the gray Pitts (L) and Jeff Lo in the blue and yellow Pitts hammer out who will take first in this morning’s Biplane Silver heat. Hoover hung on for the win. And yeah, this is good visibility this year.

With 10 miles of visibility today the pylons are getting dusted today at Reno. Or were until our early afternoon deadline when the smoke returned sufficiently to ground everyone.

In today’s Formula One heat races it was Carl Robinson running away and hiding in the Silver. Piloting Sleeper, a Cassutt out of the Phillipson stable, Robinson was in a class of his own, and in fact, will no doubt end up in the F1 Gold race tomorrow. Certainly Carl was happy to win the Silver heat, but he’s also not overly excited about returning to the Gold race because that means bumping around in the really fast guy’s turbulence.

We were all cheated out of good race for the lead in the Gold F1 heat when Steve Temple’s light ignition miss from yesterday turned into a full fledged bang and snort mayday today. Temple started off strongly in Fraed Naught, just pipping Justin Meaders in Limitless at the start, but too soon Meaders drove around Temple, then Fraed Naught let out a pop, then began advancing rapidly to the rear. Temple remained on course to salvage what starting position he might for tomorrow’s heat, but ended up functioning as a rolling chicane for everyone else. Temple immediately maydayed at the checker; it’s unknown if he’ll return tomorrow or will be relegated to the Silver based on his last place, two-laps down finishing position today.

The scene tells the tale. Fraed Naught this afternoon with one cylinder off and some work into the evening no doubt on the schedule. Everyone is hoping Steve Temple can get his go-fast back into the Gold by Sunday.

Meaders runaway win was no reduced throttle cruise once Temple dropped out. He posted a scooting 247.644 mph race average and said the only thing he did differently was richen the mixture a bit towards the end to keep his engine temperatures from rising any higher. Meaders was disappointed by Temple’s mechanical difficulties as he felt cheated out of some fun racing and said if there was anything he could do to get Temple and Fraed Naught back into the Gold he was eager to do it because he enjoys nothing more than a close, hard-fought race. “That wasn’t the way I like winning them.”

If first place in Gold was a run away, second was a real contest. Justin Phillipson had his Shoestring just ahead of Tim Cone in his taper-wing Cassutt, but not for a lack of trying by Cone. Phillipson maintained the barest of leads but the diving finish was too close to call between he and Cone and we all had to wait for the official results to know Phillipson prevailed at 224.417 mph to Cone’s 224.287 mph. Jack Speidel in the candy apple red Quadnickel took fourth and at 218 mph wasn’t in the hunt with the Phillipson-Cone ding dong in front of him, but is thinking he can find some speed by Sunday for a promised three-way battle for second. We’ll see.

Tim Cone has his #99 Cassutt going fast this year and is excited to be mixing it up in the F1 Gold. He and Justin Phillipson put on a real fight for second today.

In Biplane only the Silver heat got airborne, and that was another tight race-long battle between winner Alan Hoover in an Pitts S-1E and Jeff Lo in Miss Dianne, a Pitts S-1S. The pair could be covered by a blanket at the finish, both pilots posting 181.3 mph race averages. The difference was Lo had a .305 to Hoover’s .316.

There was no Sport Gold racing today, but we can report that Jeff LaVelle is ready, as is Jim Rust and Andrew Findlay after his replacement turbos arrived and were installed. Karl Grove got his Lancair partially disassembled and on the trailer for the ride home after his broken connecting rod in qualifying.

Tomorrow promises a bit of weather as a front comes through, but Sunday is looking good and who knows where the smoke will be. The good news is at this point everyone is qualified and some heat races have been run so at the price of a few abandoned heat races all that’s really needed is just enough time to run the finals. Stay tuned.

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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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