September 15, 2008 -The seventh time is the charm.
At least it was for Bill “Tiger” Destefani, who found the perfect way to end his long career at the 44th Reno National Championship Air Races on Sunday.
Winning. In fact, it was the seventh Unlimited Gold victory of his career and his first since 1997, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
Destefani, EAA 855959, of Bakersfield, California, took first in the Breitling Gold Unlimited final at Reno Stead Airport, flying the P-51 Mustang Strega at a top speed of 483.062 mph. He was more than nine seconds ahead of San Jose, California’s Dan Martin, EAA 531722, who took second in the P-51 Dago Red. In third was Michael Brown, of Carson City, Nevada, in his Hawker Sea Fury September Fury.
"It's been a long time coming," Destefani said in victory lane, mobbed by photographers and well-wishers. "It was just a great ride."
And a long ride, too, with Destefani also winning the championship in 1987, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
Destefani said that 2008 would be his last year of racing Strega. Asked if the victory changed his mind, he said, "I don't know if I can do it again."
Other Reno winners: In the Super Sport Gold, Jon Sharp, EAA 239592, of Mojave, California, won again, setting a new record in his Nemesis NXT - 392.252 mph. Tom Aberle, EAA 402036, of Fallbrook, California, won the Biplane class for the fifth time since 1964, flying his modified Mong Sport Phantom to 251.975 mph.
Ken Dwelle, of Auburn, California, took the T-6 class in record fashion, flying Tinkertoy to a top speed of 244.523 mph. Steve Senega, EAA 478025, of San Bruno, California, paced the Formula One Gold in his AR-6 Endeavor 246.119 mph. And former space shuttle commander Curt Brown, EAA 398832,of Hudson, Wisconsin, flew his L-29 Viper at to 507.124 to claim Jet Gold title.
Click here for complete race results.
Bill “Tiger” Destefani earned his seventh win in the Unlimited Gold class during the 2008 Reno air races on Sunday.
Photo by the Reno Gazette-Journal
Bill "Tiger" Destefani taxis his North American P-51D racer "Strega" out before racing to victory in the
Breitling Unlimited Gold Race on Sunday.
Photo by the Reno National Championship Air Races
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds wave to the crowd Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008 during the 45th Annual Reno National Championship Air Races.
Candice Towell, Reno Journal-Gazette