Strega wins Reno

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Re­port & pho­tos: Frank Mormillo

Steve Hinton Ju­nior’s dom­i­nance of the world’s fastest mo­tor­sport ended on the last lap of the 54th An­nual Reno National Cham­pi­onship Air Races at Stead Field, Ne­vada on 17 Septem­ber, 2017. Hinton was the youngest Un­lim­ited National Air Rac­ing cham­pion ever when he claimed his first ti­tle in 2009. He won seven of the eight sub­se­quent cham­pi­onships, ini­tially fly­ing Bill ‘Tiger’ Deste­fani’s P-51D Mus­tang Strega be­fore switch­ing to the Voodoo, LLC P-51D Mus­tang Voodoo in 2013 when Deste­fani re­tired (tem­po­rar­ily as it turned out) Strega from com­pe­ti­tion.

After set­ting a new World Air Speed Record for pis­ton-en­gined air­craft on 2 Septem­ber, it was orig­i­nally ex­pected that the record-set­ting Mus­tang would only show up at Reno for static dis­play. Nev­er­the­less, Voodoo did wind up com­pet­ing, al­though the dom­i­nant com­peti­tor this time around turned out to be ex-navy fighter pi­lot James Con­salvi in Strega. Con­salvi won with a speed of 484.724 mph and led ev­ery Un­lim­ited Heat Race dur­ing the week. Hinton stayed close in sec­ond-place un­til the start of Sun­day’s fi­nal Un­lim­ited Gold Race when he sur­prised Con­salvi by surg­ing ahead and hold­ing off his re­peated chal­lenges un­til the last of the race’s eight laps. Hav­ing lapped the rest of the field (four Sea Furies and a Yak-3m), both Mus­tangs en­coun­tered the last two com­peti­tors for a sec­ond time on the fi­nal lap. In the process of lap­ping one of them again, Con­salvi man­aged to get a slight edge on Hinton and keep him at bay to the fin­ish line. Con­salvi av­er­aged 481.34 mph on his way to vic­tory, while Hinton av­er­aged 480.744 mph in his ef­fort. The two’s over­all times were 7:49:774 and 7:50:356, re­spec­tively.

This was prob­a­bly the most com­pet­i­tive Un­lim­ited Gold Race at Reno in decades and, for Voodoo, a rac­ing swan­song but cer­tainly not the end of its fly­ing days: fur­ther world speed record at­tempts are in prospect. Other Reno win­ners in­cluded Rick Van­dam whose L-39 Amer­i­can Spirit topped the Gold Jet class and John Lohmar, pi­lot of the fastest T-6.

Strega tri­umphed nar­rowly over pis­ton en­gine speed record holder Voodoo

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