For generations, the name “Reno” has been synonymous with the National Championship Air Races, but this coming year will be the last time they are held at Reno Stead Airport, according to the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA). In its release, RARA explained, “While we knew this day might eventually come, we had hoped it wouldn’t come so soon.” Reno has hosted the races for nearly 60 years.
It wasn’t the race organizers’ call, apparently. In its extremely diplomatic release, RARA said it was the airport authority that made the call, and in doing so, it cited, “…the region’s significant growth,” the meaning of which we can only speculate; it’s most likely the concerns of commercial and residential real estate developers. The event did bring in millions of dollars to the community every year, not to mention the name recognition the event bestowed on the Nevada city.
There’s really nothing like the National Championship Air Races in any segment of racing, and that’s not limited to aviation. The event’s biggest draws are heavily modified racers based on 70-plus-year-old World War II-era fighter planes, around which have sprung up entire industries dedicated to keeping these big 500-mph birds flying. It’s an extremely expensive pursuit, and for many, it’s a labor of love. But Reno racing isn’t just for the deep- pocket owners of multimillion-dollar unlimited racers. There are numerous classes, including the fun and affordable Formula One class of small racers, who put on a terrific show themselves. And as much as we love Reno as an amazing backdrop for the event, we’re hopeful that RARA will find a new site that will take on a magic of its own in time.
While it sure sounds like the end of the races being hosted in Reno, the organizers are clear that they don’t see this as the end to the National Championship Air Races. They are, they said, “…committed to finding a new location,” and added that they are, “…currently exploring several other possible locations to host the event in the future.”
As it should be, RARA is planning to make the 2023 edition (it runs from September 13-17), “…the most successful it can be,” making it, “…a celebration of six decades of thrills, history, pageantry, camaraderie and family.”
The 2023 event is slated to showcase 150 race and show planes, along with the other attractions that RARA has done such a great job these past several years in bringing to the event.
Tickets are sure to go fast. You can get yours at the official Reno racing website.