Everything else is engine.” Jeff runs a twin-
turbo Lycoming 580. “If you say something
often enough, like ‘Lancairs are faster,’ people
start to believe you,” Mikael said. “Now Jeff’s
set a Sport qualifying record. Maybe this 1986
design isn’t so slow after all.”
Vicky Benzing, another 2010 rookie, left
her Sport Class Extra 300 at home after pass-
ing the PRS. She had been asked to race the
Glasair known as Cruse Missile that belonged
to her friend, the late Vicki Cruse, who had
most recently served as president of the
International Aerobatic Club. “It’s so much
faster than my Extra,” Vicky said early in the
week. “It’s so different from my usual air-
plane. Things that were automatic in the
Extra—where things are, temperatures—now,
I’m combining all the training from PRS with
a new, fast airplane. When I get it all going, it
feels fast. I’m much more comfortable each
time out. I hope it shows in my flying; it cer-
tainly does in my times. I hope to do Vicki
credit.” Unfortunately, by mid-week, Cruse
Missile was parked, waiting for enough parts
to repair engine overspeed damage.
RENO 2010: RECORDS…
The 2010 races were marked by records, canceled races, and two
dramatic incidents in which the pilots walked away from their
wrecked aircraft. Records were set during qualifying runs for four of
the seven classes, including Curt Brown setting an astounding jet
course record of 543.568 mph in his L- 29 Delfin, Viper. Nick Macy’s
five-time Gold champion T-6 , Six-Cat, ran 244.539 mph; and Tom
Aberle’s radical Phantom was the fastest biplane ever, breaking his
own record with an official 260.805 mph.
Jeff LaVelle surprised everyone by becoming the first pilot to
win the Sport Class in a Glasair III, usually dominated by Lancairs.
His record 362.481 mph was faster than all the Super Sport entries
Glasair President Mikael Via explained, “Until now, nobody has
really put as much effort into a Glasair as has gone into some of the
Lancairs. Jeff is the first Glasair customer who put that much effort in.
The only significant aero mod here is the gear; now it goes in, flush.
Miraculously, George Giboney emerged unhurt from the crash of his Thunder Mustang.
Veterans, too, had their troubles. Fast qualifier David Sterling oversped and decided to
save his engine for the trip home, further
thinning the Sport Class grid. Pre-race
SuperSport favorite Kevin Eldredge, flying
his NXT, Relentless, was given the green to
qualify, when he lost his prop and hub. Kevin
was going about 400 mph at the time, and he
immediately pulled up and made a safe landing, his Lycoming hanging by one remaining
mount and the safety cable that he reportedly had added just this year.
“I’m not entirely sure what happened,”
Kevin said. “I remember looking the instruments over right about Pylon 8 and
everything was in the green. Just as I started
to roll slightly to the left to set my nose on