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Reno Race #7 "Strega" by D. Kissenger (autographed by; Reno Pilot Bill "Tiger" Destefani) ~ 35% Off ~ Free Shipping

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Frame Size: 21" x 23" .... autographed in pencil by; Reno pilot Bill "Tiger" Destefani. Comes with a COA.


Reno Race #7 "Strega"

Number 7, Strega

In 1982, the highly modified P51, Dago Red, wins the Gold at Reno in its initial debut. Co-owner, and farmer by trade, Bill “Tiger” Destefani, elects to sell his share of the plane to partner Frank Taylor. Infused with additional prize money earned from the winnings, Destefani proceeds to build his own racer, basically an improved version of Dago Red, that he will name Strega (the word for Witch in Italian). Borrowing from the Dago Red stable, which in turn had copied the design from the Red Baron team, the Strega crew fashions a low profile canopy and fairing that extends back to the vertical stabilizer. The only difference being that a sliding canopy is used, such as the one that was on the Red Baron, as opposed to a hinged upward opening type that was employed on Dago Red. The modification was made to allow for easier exit during any in-flight emergency. Other changes to the aircraft include a smaller, streamlined air scoop, clipped wings to help in the turns, the smoothing and filling of the plane’s seams to improve airflow over the wings and fuselage, and the standard weight reduction modifications used commonly by those in the upper echelon of the Unlimited Class. Additionally, and as is the case with most of the top teams in the Class, Lockheed engineers Bruce Boland and Pete Law are consulted to help with the project.

1983: In the racer’s first taste of competition, former Dago Red pilot, Ron Hevle, qualifies Strega in the third position at Reno, but completes less than one lap in the Gold Final.
1984: Qualifying in third again, Hevle and Strega drop out on lap seven of the Championship Race.
1985: In March, at the Unlimited Race held at the old Minter Field, north of Bakersfield, California, Hevle and Strega win the Gold Final after opponent Skip Holm and Stiletto drop out with overheating problems. The team fairs worse at Reno as mechanical problems keep Strega from starting in the Gold Final.
1986: Destefani takes the reins from Hevle and finishes third in the Championship Race.
1987: Destefani shakes up the team by hiring Rolls Royce Merlin engine master Dwight Thorn. Though no stranger to air racing, working initially with the Chuck Lyford team in 1965, Thorn came to the aviation field from the Unlimited Hydroplane Boat Racing fraternity, where his expertise in prepping the vintage V12 Merlins for the Hydroplanes made him a legend, and a natural for Unlimited Air Racing as well. The combined efforts of Thorn, crew chief bill Kerchenfaut, and Destefani, enable Strega to capture the pole position for the Championship Race, with an unbelievable speed of 466.674 mph, almost a full 14 mph faster than the 1986 top qualifying record of the Sea Fury, Dreadnought. In the race itself, the dual is between Destefani in Strega, and Rick Brickert in Dreadnought. Strega takes an early lead, only to be passed by Dreadnought on lap two. Later on the same lap, Strega regains the lead and never looks back, winning the Unlimited Gold at a record speed of 452.559 mph.
1988 through 2002: From 1992 through 1997, “Tiger” Destefani and Strega take the Gold Championship Crown an impressive five times, interrupted only in 1994 with a win in the Silver. Along the way are a third place finish in 1990, and a second place finish in 1991. Two rare non-qualifying attempts occur – one in 2000, and another in 1988, three races not completed – in 1989,1999 and 2002, and two no-shows – in 1998 and 2001.
2003 through 2005: No appearances at Reno.
2006: Mechanical problems force “Tiger” and Strega to drop out on lap five of the Gold Final.
2007: Suffering more mechanical woes in Saturday’s Gold Preliminary, Strega finishes a distant 8th, thus failing to qualify for Sunday’s finale.
2008: For an unprecedented seventh time, Destefani takes the Gold Crown in Strega at 483.862 mph, after which he announces his retirement from Unlimited Air Racing.

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