Reno Air Races missing familiar class, facing undetermined move

KOLO 8 News Now 6:30 p.m.
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 5:42 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Organizers of the National Championship Air Races are gearing up for their final show in Reno, missing a familiar element and uncertain where they will find a new home.

For 59 years, 57 of them based at the Reno-Stead Airport, the air races have been a major event on the local calendar, drawing visitors and local fans to an almost unique combination of air show and competitive racing.

But this will be its last.

Earlier this year organizers announced encroaching development and soaring costs were driving them to look elsewhere for a new home. It won’t be easy finding a substitute for Reno-Stead and its combination of infrastructure, access and accommodations. 38 different candidates indicated initial interest, including sites literally from one end of the country to another.

“We had over a dozen show up for two different bidders’ conferences in June and July,” said the races’ Chief Operating Officer Tony Logoteta, “And we’re now receiving intents to bid. We have several intents to bid from different locations around the country.”

Sadly none, we hear, within a couple hundred of miles of us.

When the decision is made in the coming months and the races return, likely in 2025, it’s assumed they will include all the elements their fans have come to expect. But its farewell to Reno will be missing a familiar event. The Sports Biplane class has been grounded, the result of a series of decisions following a lawsuit filed by a biplane pilot disqualified last year.

When all the dust had settled there wasn’t sufficient time to certify the pilots for this year’s races.

“We were hoping to make this work because the biplanes were one of the classes that were in the first air races. So we wanted them to be here during the last races in Reno,” said Logoteta.

The nimble little biplanes are expected to return to competition wherever and whenever the air races land, probably in 2025. No other classes were affected.

The last Reno Air Races begin Sept. 13.