Uncertainty Over; Reno's Air Races To Continue

By  | 

RENO, NV - There's been little heard about Reno's National Championship Air Races since the announcement of the dismissal of longtime Executive Director Mike Houghton months ago.

At that time, organizers were still looking for a way out of the financial hole the races found themselves in after the 2011 event.

That year, the races ended early with the crash of an unlimited class plane, killing the pilot and 10 spectators, injuring dozens of others. Insurance costs shot up consuming the event's reserves.

The races returned in 2012 and again last year, but problems remained.

Cost cutting led to Houghton's departure and put the event's future into question.

"This year was really the first year where we were into a go-no go decision on the event itself, " says Mike Major, chairman of the event's Board of Directors.

But now that question was answered.

Organizers were able to get insurance below a million dollars and are able to say yes there will be races this September.

Good news for one of the area's premier special events and its fans.

"We believe it's an iconic event that's important not only to Reno and Nevada, but to the U-S," says Major.

But challenges remain. One apparently is its fan base.

Although attendance has remained fairly steady throughout, its demographic is getting older. So they're adding some new races and other features, like post-race concerts and the Stead Airport's newest industry, UAV's, unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones.

"All that is trying to build the fan base and no change the demographics a little bit from old guys like me to younger people," says Major.

Expect details to be announced via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like in the weeks and months ahead.

The first announcement, which military demonstration teams will attend, is expected Monday.