Sport class air racing

In recent years, the performance of some experimental home-built aircraft has begun to equal some of the fastest piston engine aircraft ever built. Without the onerous restrictions of having to certify the aircraft, development of airframe and engine design proceeds at a very fast pace and competition in this class is very fierce. To qualify, five kits need to have been sold to customers. Piston engines must not exceed 650 cubic inches. Aircraft must have a valid FAA issued airworthiness certificate.

Sport Class aircraft race on a roughly circular course at speeds of over 300 mph. They take off about ten to fifteen minutes before the race start, and follow the pace aircraft which flies in a sweeping left turn towards Peavine, the large mountain south of Reno Stead Field. Over Peavine heading roughly eastbound, the aircraft and formate.

Lancair 4 approaching a pylon

Once the pace aircraft pilot is comfortable that the formation is in a good position to start, he makes the call, "Gentlemen, you have a race!" and pulls the pace aircraft into a climbing left turn, separating from the formation. For the remainder of the race, the pace aircraft generally circles well above the racers unless needed to assist if trouble arises.

a Glasair 3 in the hanger

Lancair at full chat

A typical Sport Class race typically takes from seven to ten minutes depending on the number of laps in the race and the speed of the aircraft.