2016 Reno Jet Racing Results
The Jet Class had another sub 500 MPH year. The races were slow, but not boring with several DQ’s and one crash. Sixteen jets competed in three sub classes. Rick Vandam in Ed Noel’s L-39, Race 5 won the Gold with the week’s fastest time of 498 MPH.
Pete Zaccagnino performed a great feat of airmanship that garnered him the Jet Class Airmanship Award for 2016. Going into this year, Pete had been the only racer in the history of the Jet Class to flame out on the course, successfully deadstick landing an L-29 back in 2010. This year Pete repeated that feat in Race 24, last year’s winning Vampire, establishing a new record of two course flameouts that is sure to stand for years (unless Pete continues to race). Unfortunately this time Pete had to land off runway, destroying the aircraft.
After qualifying a disappointing 14th of 16 racers, our SLUGGO, Race 6, with Joe Gano piloting, had a great year, finishing third in the Sunday Silver heat to take the podium for the first time. Overall, SLUGGO finished 11th. For the first time, competing L-29’s dialed up their intensity to put the heat on SLUGGO, with Race 55 and 61 both logging heats over 400 MPH!
Jon Socolof, who raced SLUGGO as a rookie last year entered Race 4, a Soko Galeb G2. This is the first time a Galeb has raced at Reno. Jon put a tremendous amount of legal, financial and administrative effort into getting the plane qualified to fly, let alone race. His efforts were rewarded with a solid 477 MPH qualifying time. With a little work the Galeb should be a 500 MPH racer.
Our third Warbirds of Delaware affiliated racer was Bob McCormack, a former F-16 pilot, flying his L-29, Race 27. Bob did a great job, finishing right behind SLUGGO, and good enough to win the coveted Rookie of the Year Award.
The Jet Class has established a series of flight suit patches signifying racers’ attained speeds, with categories of 350, 400 450 and 500 MPH. Because of the unparalleled speeds its racers have attained, Warbirds of Delaware has created its own 525 MPH patch. The patch has been awarded to Mike Mangold (posthumous) Curt Brown and Joe Gano, who have all regularly raced at over 500 MPH and at least once exceeded 525 MPH in our now banned Fast Jets.
Warbirds of Delaware continues to lobby for the re-instatement of its 500 + MPH Fast Jets. It is becoming more and more clear that the fans want to see the kind of racing they offer.
As we have been predicting for years, the demise of the Unlimited Class now appears to be here. For the second year in a row, only three Unlimited racers entered, with eight more stock WWII fighters, for a meager total of 11 racers. The fastest speed was Stevie Hinton in Voodoo, with a 460 MPH Gold Race on Sunday. We have been told there will be no Unlimited racers in 2017, with the class being replaced by a stock WWII warbirds race.
The T-6 class continued to shrink with only 15 entries, while the Sport Class descended on to the course like a swarm of locusts. We don’t see these racers as having nearly the fan appeal of the Fast Jets. Once the new Reno Race Officials figure this out, there will be less resistance to reinstating the Fast Jets. Our record holding L-29 Viper and L-39 Pipsqueak remain flying and ready to get back in the game.