The Reno Air Races, also known as the National Championship Air Races, take place each September at the Reno Stead Airport in Nevada.
Started in 1964, the Reno Air Races feature multi-lap, multi-aircraft races between extremely high performance aircraft on closed ovoid courses which range between about 3 miles (Bi-Planes and Formula One) and about 8 miles (Jet, Unlimited) in length per lap. Aircraft in the Unlimited class, which consists almost entirely of both modified and stock World War II fighters, reach speeds of over 500 mph!
While a departure from our focus on vintage cars, air racing is billed as “The World’s Fastest Motorsport” so we needed to take a look for ourselves. Photographer Dennis Gray attended the 2009 Reno Air Races with a wide grin on his face and came back with some of the neatest motorsports shots we’ve ever seen, regardless of the moving target.
The 46th annual National Championship Air Races included several days of qualifying followed by four days of multi-aircraft heat racing, in addition to a world-class air show featuring the US Navy “Blue Angels” flying the F-18 Hornet.
The final day culminated with 22-year-old Steven Hinton edging out a lineup of veteran racers and past champions to become the youngest Unlimited Gold champion in event history. Hinton broke a record previously held by his father Steve Hinton, flying in last year’s defending champion, the legendary P-51 Mustang named “Strega.”
2009 Reno Air Race Winners:
Biplane Class: Tom Aberle, “Phantom,” 236 mph
Sport Class: David Sterling, N/A, 352.6 mph
Super Sport Class: John Sharp, “Nemesis,” 407.1 mph
Formula One Class: Thom Richard, “Invictus,” 241 mph
T-6 Class: Nick Macy, “Six Cat,” 237 mph
Jet Class: Curt Brown, “Viper,” 513.5 mph
Unlimited Class: Steven Hinton, “Strega,” 491.8 mph
For a complete list of official results and times, visit www.airrace.org.
2009 Reno Air Races Photo Gallery (Click image for larger picture and description)
Great photos Dennis, you really nailed them! Weather conditions looked perfect and gave you some great backgrounds. I know it can be real tricky getting great aircraft shots so well done.
I’ve always loved the Reno Air Races, and would love to attend. I’ll spend hours watching videos of it on YouTube. I don’t care if it’s not cars, this is a serious motorsport.
Great shots, and I hope we get similar coverage next year!
If you didn’t think planes could do a burnout, check out Rare Bear in picture 18…
Great story and pictures.
Great photos, Dennis. We are lucky to have your quality shots to enjoy. Thanks!
Thom Richards won in Invictus – not in Miss USA.
Nice job. The shutter speeds at the pylons though is much too high. No where near enough prop blur.
Your right. This was my first time and I was all over the place trying get a sharp fuselage and a blurred prop. Same shutter speed on the little F-1 and Pitt bi-planes blurred the prop but the bigger unlimited class must turn much slower. Another problem or opportunity was panning with the unlimited class planes. An F-1 car may be going 150 or 160mph these guys are in another realm going by at 450+mph or more.
Next time the props will be blurred.
Fun fun fun.
Anything fast, always looks great when shot by you! Thanks for sharing them with us.