Four-Day Pylon Racing Seminar Underway in Stead

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RENO, Nev. - The Reno Air Racing Association is holding the 16th annual Pylon Racing Seminar through this weekend.

“It's designed to take brand-new race pilots and teach them the ins and outs of racing,” Reno Air Racing Association President and CEO Mike Houghton said. “It's an opportunity for some of our more experienced racers to get some practice on the course, test their airplanes and get ready for September.”

This is the 50th year for The National Championship Air Races.

“We've got a great air race scheduled and a super airshow,” Houghton said. “We have the Patriot Jet Team coming, they put on a fabulous show with red, white and blue smoke and we have a real treat this year because Jetman is coming from Europe and we'll get to see a man fly without an airplane.”

The Racing Association holds the seminar every June to ensure safety on the course.

“We've found bringing pilots out into a quieter, non-distracting environment and letting them focus on what the craft is all about – learning from the experts, the old-time pilots that have been out here for a number of years – they get to hone their skills,” Houghton said.

Organizers say there will be a number of new faces at the races this year.

“We're seeing quite a few rookies this year come up to the class and that's going to add some younger pilots in all the race classes,” Houghton said.

For many of the racers it's an annual tradition. Team Strega has been competing since 1983.

“Strega means witch in Italian so she's a little witch, you really have to reel her in because she gets kind of wild,” owner/pilot Bill “Tiger” Destefani said. “We like racing it's a competition it's 'I'm faster than you,' that's what it's about.”

He says the plane isn't ready yet; but after an overhaul will be ready to compete at speeds over 500 miles per hour.

“I always say if the Red Rocket is running well, we will win,” Destefani said. “I'll tell you this: second place is the first loser and I don't like to lose.”

The National Championship Air Races are set for September 11-15 at the Reno-Stead Airport.