Watch SLUGGO take second place in the 2018 Jet Bronze Race.

 

2018 Reno Air Race Results

Once again the Reno officials came up with a set of reasons, all completely outside the Reno Official Rules, to ban Delaware Warbirds’ Reno Air Race record holding Race 77 Viper. They also went outside the official rules to continue the ban on Race’s fastest ever L-39, Race 2, Pipsqueak.

 

So for 2018 Joe Gano again had to settle for his trusty but slow beater, SLUGGO.  Joe qualified 15th of 16, but was able to move up during the week to finish 11th of 16, and 2nd in the Bronze race at 391 MPH. Finishing ahead of three L-39’s made it SLUGGO’s best showing to date. A good show, but nothing like the 500+ MPH racing provided by the team’s Viper and Pipsqueak.

 

The Unlimiteds continued their rapid fade, having their worst year in decades. 15 planes showed up, and on Sunday even SLUGGO was faster than all but three! With a Sunday Gold winning speed of 418, only four jets were slower than the Unlimiteds’ fastest! The days of Unlimited rule are over, and if Reno doesn’t adjust its business model to reflect the realities of today’s racing, and the interests of the younger fans, Reno’s days will be over.

 

To succeed, Reno needs to de-emphasize gate revenues and focus on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media to attract eyeballs. The sponsors and money will follow.

 

Reno also needs planes that the younger fans want to watch. This means jets. It also may mean Sport Class planes. The Sports again descended upon Reno like a swarm of locusts, with 40 swallowing up 4 race heats per day. However, Reno has yet to prove that the Sport Class is popular with the fans.
The one bright spot we saw was increased access to TV coverage. Reno posted a series of decent production quality videos on YouTube that has made it easy for viewers to watch the races they are interested in, and with good footage from the course and cockpit. Better quality and broader promotion will surely generate sponsors, and help identify which races are attracting the fans.

 

Delaware Warbirds will continue to push to get its fast jets into the 2019 race. It appears that we may be able to make some progress for next year, but it is too early to be definitive.