Friday Sport Gold Heat

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Gary Mead, teammate to Jeff LaVelle, taxis in from his Gold heat race Friday afternoon at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada.
Gary Mead, teammate to Jeff LaVelle, taxis in from his Gold heat race Friday afternoon at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada.

There were few surprises in the Sport Gold heat race yesterday afternoon at the National Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Jeff LaVelle lead from the start in his muscular Glasair with John Parker maintaining close station in second the entire event. LaVelle posted a 377 mph average speed; Parker 376 mph.

The biggest move—and unfortunately retrograde—came from Andrew Findlay who made a fair start in third, showed workable heat race speed, but then cut power and drifted well aft by race’s end. Over-boosting the engine after re-rigging the wastegates was the cause; Findlay saw his temperatures climbing and reduced power before thermal catastrophe set in, but still ended up needing to change at least one cylinder last night.

David Sterling was right where Findlay backed out of the race, taking third at 365 mph. Sterling keeps a low profile in the Sport hangar at Reno, but is definitely a contender in the Sport Gold mid-pack.

Gary Mead, a Glasair III teammate to LaVelle but with a more stock engine, just bested a charging Lynn Farnsworth, 357 vs. 356 mph to garner fourth. Farnsworth started last following cut pylon penalties the day before and just like the previous day, had to lean hard on his Andy Chiavetta-prepped engine to work his way up to fifth.

Next came Findlay, salvaging sixth as he nursed his hurt engine around at cruise power. The final three were Kevin Eldredge in his naturally-aspirated 8-cylinder Nemesis NXT at 329 mph; Bob Mills at 322 mph in a Thunder Mustang and Vince Walker in a naturally-aspirated Lancair at 309 mph.

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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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