To our amazing September Family,
As 2023 draws to a close, it would not be overstating to say that it has been one of the most challenging and yet highly successful years in our six decades as the Reno Air Racing Association. Following notice from our airport authority, we announced in March that this would be our last year of air racing at Reno-Stead. While it was indeed a sad and undesirable announcement, you, our fans, volunteers, sponsors, racers, staff, exhibitors, and vendors, all made it clear early on that 2023’s National Championship Air Races would be a grand finale like no other. Initial ticket sales on opening day received such an overwhelming response that our servers crashed! They were quickly back in action, and the following months demonstrated that our September Family was going to be there in numbers the likes of which we have not seen in many years.
Behind the scenes, once the announcement was made, we immediately embarked on a three-phase mission, which we are proud to say is not only proceeding well, but in all likelihood will exceed even our most ambitious expectations!
Our mission was threefold. First, we wanted to have a successful, profitable final race week at Reno that would give proper justice to our long tenure, as well as provide the funding to weather the search for a new location. Second, we planned to create and deliver an open national RFP process that would facilitate the vetting and selection of this new venue for NCAR with our full 7-race class and airshow complement. Finally, we would announce and host a farewell airshow in 2024 to celebrate our 60th anniversary and give a big introduction to our next chapter in a new home.
Fast forward to December, and we are thrilled to report that all three phases are well in hand. Checking the first box, the 2023 National Championship Air Races was an incredible success. While the tragic losses of Nick Macy and Chris Rushing after the T6 Gold Race on Sunday will forever sadly punctuate this historic week, the event itself and its results far exceeded our projections and provided us with the funding needed to proceed with our relocation efforts.
As for our search, as of this writing we have six finalist cities whose proposals have been reviewed and site visits to each have been completed. We are now in the deliberation phase of narrowing the decision down to our final selection, which we expect to announce in early spring 2024. We’d like to recognize Terry Matter, RARA Board Vice Chairman and Site Selection Committee Chairman along with our entire Site Selection Committee for their tireless work in finding our new home.
Finally, at the International Council of Airshows earlier this month we received the wonderful news that we will host not one, but TWO of the world’s most exciting and dynamic jet demonstration teams at our 2024 Airshow – the US Navy Blue Angels and the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. Our show is scheduled for October 4-6, 2024, at Reno-Stead. We have a host of military and civilian performers plus static displays, a racing heritage area and our STEM Discovery Zone rounding out an amazing weekend of aviation excellence, along with a few surprises we have planned. Even though we are not racing, we are planning an epic celebration of our history and certainly our future that promises to be yet another amazing event for Northern Nevada.
Throughout these challenging yet triumphant times, our core mission has thrived. NCAR 2023 was a first-class air racing and airshow event, and we were able to honor our military with several key ceremonies and recognitions during the week. Our STEM Discovery Zone once again experienced incredible attendance, and we are proud to report that our first and second-year awardees of our Flight Training Scholarships are doing well, and we will be announcing our third year of scholarships this spring.
While the year began with what seemed insurmountable challenges, we are blessed with an incredible Board, Staff and Leadership team, and thanks to their amazing efforts combined with the support of our September Family we now have much to celebrate.
As we enter the holiday season reflecting on our mission, circumstances, and performance, we are humbled by the pride, resilience, and loyalty that all of you have shown as we embark on this next step in our journey. Please accept our sincere and heartfelt appreciation for persevering, celebrating, and joining us as we continue Racing for the Future. We are truly blessed by you and hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
With deepest appreciation and thanks,
Chairman / CEO