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Fri, Oct 20, 2023

Reno Replacement? Six Cities Vying to Host National Championship Air Races

Rehoming a Legend

On 09 March 2023, the Reno Air Racing Association’s (RARA) board of directors regretfully announced that 2023’s 59th National Championship Air Races (NCAR) were to be the last held at Nevada’s Reno-Stead Airport (4SD).

On 30 May, RARA set forth it was accepting bids from airports and localities seeking to partner with the Association for purpose of hosting future air racing events.

Comes now 19 October 2023, and upwards of fifteen hundred pages of supporting documents have been submitted by six cities vying to earn the distinction of being named the new home of the National Championship Air Races.

Reno Air Racing Association chairman and CEO Fred Telling stated: “Seeing the interest to host the National Championship Air Races at each of these unique venues gives me great hope for the future of air racing. We’re looking for our next home, somewhere we can celebrate many more anniversaries, so we’ve assembled an expert committee that is putting an extreme amount of care and diligence into choosing our next location.”

Respondents to the RARA’s request for proposals include: Casper, Wyoming; Buckeye Arizona; Pueblo, Colorado; Roswell, New Mexico; Thermal, California; and Wendover, Utah.

The committee reviewing the bid submissions comprises RARA personnel representing, in part, the Association’s operations, safety, security, and business development facets. The Races’ seven classes are also represented on the committee, and will continue to be integral to the evaluation process.

Currently, the selection committee is carefully vetting the proposals; site visits of the proposed racing locales will be conducted in late 2023. Critical criteria requiring consideration and confirmation include open land in acreage conducive to the establishment of racecourses; suitable runways, ramps and hangar space; administrative and security facilities; as well as proximity to hotels, commercial airports and restaurants.

RARA board member and selection committee chairman Terry Matter remarked: “We only want to go through this process once and because of that, we’re going to make sure our next location is the best fit for the future of the air races.”

Mr. Matter added: “Each of the bidders’ proposals were thoroughly prepared and completely addressed the RARA RFP requirements. We are so grateful for their initial attendance at the bidders’ conferences and at NCAR in September, and for the time and effort each one of them put into their proposal preparation. It is very exciting to know that our new home will be in one of these great cities. Soon our Site Selection Committee will visit these locations to further evaluate their ability to be the future host of the National Championship Air Races.”

A final decision pertaining to a new racing venue is expected to be announced in early 2024. Racing will commence at the winning city in 2025.

The National Championship Air Races are a vibrant facet of aviation’s culture and history. The only event of its kind across the wide world, the annual air racing series attracts tens-of-thousands of global patrons and has, since its 1964 inception, supplemented Nevada’s economy with upwards of $100-million.

Appositely billed The World’s Fastest Motorsport, the Reno Air Races have, for decades, thrilled spectators with head-to-head competition across seven aircraft classes ranging from hot-rodded STOL airplanes to highly-modified WWII fighters. The latter machines—primarily P-51 Mustangs, F-8F Bearcats, and Hawker Sea Furies—are capable of straight-line speeds in excess of five-hundred-miles-per-hour.

The yearly event is among aviation’s high sacraments and occasions displays of engineering brilliance, masterful airmanship, and raw courage demonstrative of the very best of humankind’s intellect and spirit.

Historically, the Reno Air Races have comprised two-and-a-half days of qualifying followed by four-and-a-half days of multi-aircraft heat racing divided into seven-classes: STOL Drag; T-6; Sport; Biplane; Formula-1; Jet; and the main-event Unlimited Class. The competition culminates in the Unlimited Class Gold Race—an incomparable syncretism of speed and sound that imprints upon the eyes, ears, and soul like an AC/DC - Iron Maiden double bill at Red Rocks with pyrotechnics by the U.S. Army’s 56th Artillery Command.

FMI: www.airrace.org

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