The early part of the week at the Reno Races is mostly spent chatting with old friends as they get their race planes dialed in and qualify for the heat races. It is a somewhat relaxed time, with lots of tool sharing between teams and airplanes opened up for just about anyone to see. Everyone in the pits is directly involved in the racing—there really aren’t any “spectators” in the civilian sense, so it has a fly-in feel to it.
This year is no different, so we’ve had a chance to look at airplanes we’ve seen before, and probably the biggest difference we’ve seen is the increase in the use of nitrous oxide—tanks are appearing in back seats, and right seats (of side-by-sides) where before, there was empty space. nitrous gives you that added boost in horsepower when nothing else will, and it is relatively inexpensive to implement for those who are really racing their “daily drivers” around the course.
Sport class is a fun mix of guys who are just happy to get to chase their friends around the pylons and those who are really looking for one of the top spots in the Gold division. While everyone is open and friendly, the ones who are just trying to get a touch of an advantage are adding those nitrous-oxide tanks, while the ones looking for the top trophy are more likely to have shown up with an entirely new engine, prop—or wing! We’re sure there’s more hiding under some of the cowlings that we haven’t seen, but nitrous seems to be the big thing among the RVs this year.
Meanwhile, its great to see some new faces among the old, and everyone getting excited about a few days spent chasing one another around the desert!