Reno & the Yuill Bros

North and west of the metropolis of Las Vegas lies Nevada’s ‘other’ city, Reno.  Known for air races, this area, in the High Sierra foothills, has a drag racing pedigree dating back to the ‘50s. Two brothers, who are natives to the city, spent more than a decade as a nationally known Pro Stock team, and today are the proprietors of a leading Cycle outlet.  Another local racer started his career in 1962.This, from my perspective, is the story of Reno Drag Racing, the Yuill Brothers, Freedom Cycle; plus Ricky Ruiz, the Nevada Rattler, and Top Gun Raceway.

The Reno area’s first drag racing took place south of town and even higher up, at the Douglas-Tahoe airport on a huge runway, which allowed cars to run ½ mile, since the high altitude made normal times impossible.

Left: Douglas-Tahoe airport, 1957: Flagman in the center of this wide and long air park has just sent four Chevies off on a half mile journey to the finish, once again dispelling the notion that the ‘Four Wide’ at ZMAX was the original.

Reno, Nv. May 26, 1955: The Lee’s Body Shop Special, a Chrysler powered Rear engine Top Fuel Dragster, won Top Eliminator and held Top Time of the meet with a blast of 156.52 MPH and an E.T. of 17.54 seconds over the ½ mile distance. (Photo by the Nevada Timing Association, located by Ron Ogilvie)

My first experience with Reno Drag Racing was in 1970, when I boarded an Air California Jet at the Orange County airport, flew to Sacramento and met my partner Howard Harmon with our original Pro Stock car. My seat was in the sleeper of the hauler, so I bounced and prayed as Harmon guided us through the High Sierra Mountains on I-80 to Reno. The next day we ran a Pro Stock show which was indicative of why they used to run ½ mile drags there. Our car, which ran over 135 at sea level, scorched the track at 123. Of course the track elevation was 5,045’.