Check out the video of Scott Farnsworht attempting to fight off Joe Gano in Sluggo!
Viper flown to victory in the Jet Gold class by Pete Stavrides!
2021 Reno Air Race Results
The Viper is back! And with a vengeance. Racing for the first time since it was banned for
politics in 2010, Race 77, with Pete Stavrides flying, won the Jet Gold heat with an average
speed of 502 MPH, the only aircraft to exceed 500 MPH at Reno in 2021, and Reno’s first 500
MPH racer since 2015.
Qualifying only third, Pete had his work cut out for him. His spectacular pass of 24 on the first
lap of the Gold race sealed the win.
That is four straight wins for the Viper in only 5 years of racing. That is the highest winning
percentage for jets with at least 5 years of racing. The only jet with more Reno wins is Race 5,
American Spirit, with six wins in 18 years of racing. And the Viper has now won with two
different pilots, two different engines and two different race engineers!
Originally developed by Dave Cannavo, 77 took Reno by storm in 2007. Only a rookie mistake
by pilot Joe Gano prevented a first-year win and a clean 5 year sweep for the Viper. Utilizing
the Rolls Royce Viper, Mr. Cannavo engineered the first Reno racer to have a “hotrod”, or
non-factory, engine installed. Its domination was so complete, Reno race officials saw it as a
threat to the popularity if the Unlimiteds, so in 2011 they banned all of Mr. Cannavo’s
aircraft, including the re-engined 500 MPH L-39 Race 2, Pipsqueak.
The Rolls Viper engine subsequently was judged unreliable by RR, and Mr. Cannavo had
passed away, so we engaged Steve Picatti, a former Jet Provost racer and engineer to install a
PW J-60. 2021 was our “dial in” year, and we were not sure how well 77 would perform. It
was a difficult week, with lots of teething problems, but ultimately the entire team put out a
tremendous effort to pull off a spectacular finish.
And in the back…….Old faithful, SLUGGO at 379 MPH, was, as it usually is, the slowest jet in
the class. In most years, Joe Gano has been able to take advantage of other racers’ mistakes
to move up in the final standings. In 2021 all six jets in the Bronze race performed well,
leaving SLUGGO last in that heat with a disappointing 384 MPH race. However two DQ’s in
the Gold heat advanced SLUGGO to a 16 th of 18 finish.
Finally there is the Delaware Warbirds Racing crew, which was instrumental in the Viper win,
working several late nights to correct unanticipated problems. Of the 17 crews, Our crew
dominated the Jet Class awards in 2021. Dave Moyer, Jr. won the “Best Crew Chief” Award
and the team won the “Best Crew” award. Members included Dave Moyer, Dave Moyer, Jr.
Dave Johns, Kim Gott, Jim King, Matt Conklin and Miles Conklin.
2021 is shaping up to be a good year for Delaware Warbirds Racing. After being banned for 10
years, our L-29, Race 77, the Viper, is back! The Viper dominated the races with three straight
wins in 2008, 2009, and 2010, setting the absolute Reno course record with a 544 MPH
qualifying lap. That was too much for Reno, so they banned it, along with our Race 2,
Pipsqueak, the fastest L-39 ever to race at Reno, with wins in 2005 and 2006 and an L-39
fastest qualifying lap of 525 MPH.
As Reno demanded, we have installed a new, less powerful engine in the Viper, but one that
will still exceed 500 MPH. We will also have a new driver, Pete Stavrides. Pete is a former
Navy F-18 pilot and a Jet Class instructor. This year 77 will not be as dominant as in the past.
Pete will be up against 2 or 3 other 500 MPH racers, but feels we can pull off another win for
As for Pipsqueak, Race 2 is alive, well and flying regularly, but still is too much for Reno, and it
In Place of Race 2, Joe Gano will be driving his faithful old beater, Race 6, SLUGGO. SLUGGO
remains a fully stock L-29 but is capable of speeds in excess of 400, and Joe’s experience
usually gets him a ahead of a few racers.