The inaugural Columbus Cup—the first short takeoff and landing drag racing, or STOL Drag, event at Rickenbacker International Airport (KLCK)—over the weekend marked what organizers said was the largest stand-alone air show in STOL Drag history.
Also performing at the event June 16 through 18 was the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor Demo Team and the Navy’s Blue Angels, their first appearance in the Ohio capital in 28 years.
The three-day event featuring aerobatics, racing, and military aircraft displays drew more than 50,000 spectators to the airport, which had not hosted an air show in 16 years.
It also was the first time STOL Drag was executed on concrete. The amount of braking became evident to the crowd as tires smoked across the aggregate while pilots attempted to stop their aircraft for the fastest times.
STOL Drag Records
Pilot Steve Henry set a new STOL Drag record with a 51.09-second lap over a full 2,000-foot track.
Michael Goulian returned to STOL Drag and became the first to participate both as a racing competitor and a main show aerobatics pilot. Goulian raced back and forth from bush airplane to aerobatic aircraft, which his team had waiting for him.
With the ever-evolving format of STOL Drag, it appears the motor sport has finally solidified itself as a main attraction among fans new to it. The crowd was completely enthralled by the excitement and quickly learned the pilots’ names and profiles and began rooting their favorite airplanes just like NASCAR auto racing fans.
STOL Drag racing took place during all three days of the event, with pilots battling each other and the clock to move up through the higher payout placements.
In the end, it was Steve Henry, piloting “Yee Haw 8,” who took home the first Columbus with pride after his record-setting runs.
Using beta prop mode, Austin Clemens finished second in his Aviat Husky just in front of third-place Hal Stockman in his Rans S7S.