Adrenaline junkies: first New Zealand team at Reno Air Races inspired by racing legend Burt Munro

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Members of the Full Noise team heading to Reno, from left, Paula Theodore, JEM Aviation director Jay McIntyre and pilot and team leader Graeme Frew.

Air racing is the fastest motorsport in the world. For the first time ever, a New Zealand team is heading to the famous Reno Air Races to compete. Reporter Oliver Lewis finds out more.

In two months, tens of thousands of people will look to the skies over Nevada and see a Soviet fighter plane streak past, travelling at more than 600kmh over the arid Reno desert.

The Yak-3 will turn, banking around the course at the Reno Air Races, and reveal a number painted on its wing: 35, done in distinctive black font on a circular, yellow background.

For most Americans sweltering in the 30 degree Celsius heat the number will mean nothing, but any New Zealander in the crowd might look skyward with a glimpse of recognition.

Because the first Kiwi team ever to race at the world-famous event chose it for a reason: as a homage to the pioneering motorcyclist and land-speed record holder, Burt Munro.

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SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Graeme Frew inspects the Yak-3 before it ships out to…

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