Reno Stead Airport to Hold its Final National Championship Air Races Event in 2023

The Unlimited Class line up for the Gold Trophy Race at Reno in 2015. Sadly, 2023 marked the final year which the National Championship Air Races took place at Reno Stead Airport. (photo by D Ramey Logan via Wikipedia)
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For many of us here, the city of Reno, Nevada has become synonymous with the world of air racing. The National Championship Air Races have taken place on the outskirts of this desert gambling town almost every year since 1964. Through the many triumphs, and occasional tragedies, the Reno Air Races has remained a constant in the calendars of so many aviation and motorsport enthusiasts. But it seems like 2023 will see the last of the ‘heavy iron’ and other race planes round the pylons at Reno Stead Airport, according to a press release which the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) issued moments ago. The airport authority has decided that 2023 is the last year that the National Championship Air Races will take place at its storied venue. This does not necessarily mean the end for the races as an event, mind you, but it will be a major hurdle to find another location so aptly situated for them to occur. Further details are available in the RARA press release reproduced below…

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An aerial view of Reno Stead Airport during the Reno Air Races on September 12, 2014. The airport operators have decided that 2023 will mark the last year which they will host the National Championship Air Races, although it is still possible that RARA will be able to locate an alternate venue for the races to continue in subsequent years. (photo by D Ramey Logan via Wikipedia)

It is with heavy hearts that we write this to let you know that, after nearly 60 years of air racing in northern Nevada, 2023 will be the last National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport. While we knew this day might come, we had hoped it wouldn’t come so soon. Citing the region’s significant growth amongst other concerns, the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority has made the decision to sunset the event. For so many around the world, Reno has become synonymous with air racing and it is hard to imagine the National Championship Air Races gracing any other skies than those in the Sierra Nevada. However, we are confident the event will continue. In fact, we are currently exploring several other possible locations to host the event in the future but it starts with making this year’s event the biggest and most successful it can be. In essence, the future of the National Championship Air Races starts now. And, we need your help.

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Static aircraft on display at the 2014 Reno Air Races. (photo by D Ramey Logan via Wikipedia)

As we take off for one last time in Reno, we are inviting the community and race fans from all over the world to join to send off the National Championship Air Races in style. Consider it a celebration of six decades of thrills, history, pageantry, camaraderie and family. Reno has been the event’s home for the last 59 years, and we could not leave without recognizing the community that has embraced our event and helped make it one of our region’s signature events. We look forward to seeing the many faces the Air Races have brought joy to over the years, as well as new ones who will get the chance to see the only racing event of its kind for the first time this year.

While we discuss the future of the Air Races, we are grateful for our time at the Reno-Stead Airport and our partnership with the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority. Our event has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the local economy, while instilling a love for flying in the community and becoming a valued partner to many charities and non-profits. We have always been so thrilled to show off the beautiful Reno Tahoe area to the tens of thousands that flew in just for our event and we’re looking forward to doing that again this year. The support from both our community and visitors has been overwhelming, and the impact they helped us make in Reno is immeasurable.

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Vintage Reno Air Racing between two P-51D Mustangs… each of which bore the name “Bardahl” during the earliest days of air racing at Reno in the 1960s. (photo by Aaron Haase)

The last National Championship Air Races will take place from September 13-17. The 2023 event is set to return with more than 150 planes and pilots as well as several ‘hands-on’ displays and experiences including the GRADD-NVBAA STEM Education Discovery Zone, heritage displays, military demonstrations and static displays and more. The event will also mark the third year of competition for the STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) Drag which has become a phenomenon in the skies. While this is our last year at this location, the Reno Air Racing Association is committed to preserving and growing this great event and developing the next generation of Air Race fans. We look forward to seeing you in September.
With much appreciation and love,
                                                              The Reno Air Racing Association Board of Directors
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While 2023 marks the final chapter for Reno Stead Airport serving as the host for the National Championship Air Races – with enough support, it is yet possible that the National Air Racing Association will be able to find another location which will suit the purposes of this historic event.


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