More than 100 air race pilots competing in the 36th annual Air Race Classic descended on the Clermont County/Sporty’s Airport late last month, after flying a 2,330 nm cross-country course in four days. Starting on June 19, the racers left Lake Havasu, Arizona, on a course that would take them east, north, and finally southeast to Sporty’s.
The first racers began to arrive early on Friday, June 23, and continued streaming in throughout the day, Sporty’s officials report. The winning team, based on fastest handicapped speed, was Dianna Stanger of Fort Lavaca, Texas, and Victoria Holt of Belton, Texas, who flew a Cirrus SR-22.
The race continues the tradition of the transcontinental women’s air race, first held in 1929. After World War II, the race came to be known as the Powder Puff Derby before being reincorporated as the Air Race Classic, a non-profit organization. Famous participants through the years include Amelia Earhart and Louise Thaden.
“These air racers are a competitive bunch,” says Sporty’s Founder and Chairman Hal Shevers. “Sporty’s was honored to host the terminus in 2001, and we’re glad to roll out the welcome mat for such a spirited group once again.”
The winning pilots, who called themselves “The Racing Aces,” participated in last year’s race as well. That no doubt helped with their strategy.
The pair started out strong, flying five legs of the race in the first day. “The first day of the race we covered a total of 1,313.72 miles and over half the race route,” Stanger said.
She reported that the pair departed from Chippewa County International Airport (CIU) in Sault Ste. in Marie, Mich., on the morning of June 23, the fourth day of the race, later than a handful of racers, but the move was strategic and beneficial. The day before, all teams were grounded due to eastern weather systems.
They flew the last two legs in a matter of hours. Once the Aces crossed the finish line, they were greeted by the friendly Sporty’s staff and headed to the Meltdown Party. The team landed 20th and were declared the champions on the evening of Sunday, June 25. The racers report they are the first to win in a Cirrus SR-22 Special Edition.
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