Sport Plans Three Demo Races


As air racers collectively search for new venues in a post-Reno world, the Sport Class continues to lead. Step one is achieving FAA accreditation for their aircraft and racing program, where the big hurdle is holding one successful demonstration race.

To reach that goal the Sport Air Racing Council—the organization the Sport Class has formed to negotiate such events—has three demonstration races planned in the near future. In fact, all three races are planned before the big finale at Reno this coming September.

Two of these events are in western Canada: The Red Deer Regional Air Show, Spring Book, Alberta on July 29-30 and the Alberta International Air Show in Villeneuve Airport, Edmonton, Alberta August 5-6. The U.S. event is The Airshow of the Cascades Festival in Madras, Oregon August 24-26. All three are air shows where the Sport Class would run its single-class race (no F1’s, Biplanes, Unlimiteds, etc.).

Bill Beaton, SARC’s point man for future racing, stressed that contracts had not been signed with any of the three air shows, but he expected all to finalize shortly.

As these are SARC’s first-ever races outside of Reno and are intended as demonstrations to the FAA of SARC’s ability to run a single-class contest, entries are limited to seven race planes running 240 mph or slower, plus one pace plane. Once accreditation is gained more and faster planes will be allowed in future events.

As expected, the only real weather front in all this is insurance. A web of three levels of insurance among the event promoter, SARC and the individual pilots is required and apparently there are only two underwriters in the world who will even contemplate such policies. It appears that if insurance can be written the planned races will takes place.

Past the three 2023 demonstration races, Beaton says SARC has significant opportunities lining up in 2024 but says it is too early to discuss details regarding them.

More anecdotally, we asked the race pilots in the fast, expensive Sport Gold division if they were ready for support running more than one event per year, as has been the norm with just Reno on the schedule. All said yes, explaining they’d need to dial the power down to about the 350 mph level to get engine reliability into the three-race neighborhood, but were excited about such a series. They’re hoping to eventually arrive at several races around the country with one final race annually for the championship as this would help them secure sponsorship and bring new fans to the sport. They predicted all bets on manifold pressure would be off at the year-ending championship race and it would take 400 mph to win the Gold as is currently the case at Reno.

There’s certainly strong interest in Sport Class racing. No fewer than 13 rookies are attending Pylon Racing Seminar this week in Reno, and the ramp is covered with 42 Sport Class aircraft at PRS. That’s more than all other racing classes combined. Furthermore, our wanderings in the pits at PRS this week have uncovered high interest in Formula 1 as well, with more than one story of dormant race planes being dusted off for pylon duty. Certainly there are plenty of F1 racers in the backs of hangars across the U.S., along with many eligible Biplanes. Rumors of F1 races being planned outside of Reno are also in the wind. Given their smaller, internationally defined and recognized 3 km course often fitting inside the runway confines of larger airports F1/Biplane racing seems assured in 2024 and beyond.

These may be interesting times, but they are not without hope by any means for air racing fans.


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