By Jon Sharp
Photo By Bruce Croft
Jeff LaVelle, of Mukilteo WA. ﬂying his immaculately prepared #39 Glasair III lead wire to wire in each of his heat races then ﬁnished off Reno 2013 bywinning the Sport Class Gold Final! Jeff and his team put some sizzle in the Sport Class hangers by leading the ﬁeld inqualifying with a speed of 403.059 MPH! Jeff and his team joins Jon Sharpand Team Nemesis as the only members of the 400+ MPH club in the SportClass.
Jeff attributed his week of success to the detailed preparation of his team leading up to the races. Jeff and the team raised the game each day the#39 took to the air. After logging increasing heat race speeds of 390.485MPH, 398.189 MPH, 399.334MPH. Jeff lined the #39 on the pole for theGold Championship conﬁdent that it was his race to loose. Jeff ﬂew the Gold Race Championship ﬁnal conservatively at 394.334MPH, sealing his second consecutive Sport Class Gold Championship. Jeff very much wanted to raise his game for the ﬁnal race by putting up a 400+ MPH racespeed, but instead he elected to go with a more conservative approach toseal his victory. His comment was it’s better to lead the last lap, than break trying to post a really good speed number in the ﬁnal.
Jeff’s AWESOME #39 Glasair is powered by the ﬂawlessly performing twinturbo charged, ADI pumping Lycoming TIO-580, ﬁtted with a Hartzell performance propellor. The reliable package didn’t miss a beat all week, said Jeff. So give a TIp of the hat to Jeff LaVelle! Congratulations Champ,and GREAT JOB!!!
Rounding out the Gold Championship ﬁnal was, 2nd place, John Parker in the #352 “Blue Thunder II” Thunder Mustang at 373.179 MPH. There was ahotly contested battle for 3rd place, that went to David Sterling ﬂying the #8Lancair Legacy at 351.916 MPH just nosing out the 4th place ﬁnisher, Lynn Farnsworth in the #44 Miss Karen” Lancair Legacy at 351.618 MPH. This race went down to wire as David and Lynn battled lap after lap heading tothe checkers. Joining the heated competition, awaiting to pounce on asmall mistake by the #8, or #44, was rookie sensation Andrew Findlay ﬂying the beautiful #30 “One Moment” Lancair Legacy. The #30 posted a ﬁnal race speed speed of 351.084 MPH. Andrew watched the heated battleof the #8, #44, but just didn’t quite have enough to get it done, ultimately ﬁnishing 5th place. In 6th place was Gary Meade ﬂying #47 “Lucky Mojo” Glasair III at a speed of 329.740 MPH. 7th place in the Gold went to Bob Wolstenholme in his #88 Lancair Legacy with a speed of 324.417 MPH justeking out a razor thin ﬁnish over 8th place ﬁnisher Lee Behel in his #5Lancair Legacy “Breathless”. Lee’s speed was 324.185 MPH. Completingthe Gold Championship race was Brant Seghetti, ﬂying the stunningly beautiful #51 V-12 powered Thunder Mustang “Miss Picabo”, at a speed of 317.992 MPH.
The Sport Class had another banner year in 2013 by ﬁelding the largestnumber of racers of any class on the Reno Stead airport, with a ﬁeld of 28race planes. The “Sports” have consistently shown the ability to ﬁll the raceﬁeld with a wide variety of different designs and concepts. This years ﬁeldhad 17 Lancair’s , 6 Glasair’s, 3 Van’s RV’s, 2 Thunder Mustang’s, and 1Zlin Z50. The Sport Class prides itself on an open ﬁeld of kit built aircraft,coupled with the opportunity to showcase “one off” designs, racing alongside each other. Adding to the excitement of the Sport Class, is the almost unlimited amount of modiﬁcations available to the builders. The only signiﬁcant rule being a maximum engine displacement of 1000 ﬁrebreathing cubic inches.
Noticeably missing from this years ﬁeld was 3 contenders for Gold that justdidn’t quite make ready status for the event. Missing were the # 5 “SweetDreams” Chevy V-8 powered “one off” GP 5 owned by Lee Behel. The #33Lancair Legacy owned by Multi year Champion Darryl Greenamyer,prepped by Andy Chiavetta, that was to have been ﬂown by the 2012Unlimited Class runner up ﬁnisher Will Whiteside. The #42, Relentless NXT owned and ﬂown by Kevin Eldridge was also missing from the ﬁeld.
The Sport Class continues to be the standard barer for growth in air racingas well as the gathering place for Air Racing’s best and brightest builders and pilots. The Class is lead by President Lee Behel, Vice President CraigSherman, and Secretary Bob Mills. 2014 promises to be another spectacular year of air racing in theperformance driven Sport Class. BE THERE!!!!