Organization looking to raise $500,000 by year end
RENO, Nev. (November 13, 2020) – After the heartache of canceling the 2020 National Championship Air Races due to COVID-19 the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) is determined to bring the world’s fastest motorsport back to the high desert of Northern Nevada in 2021, but it won’t be possible without additional support. RARA, a charitable 501(c)3, is asking for help by launching a fundraising campaign to “Save The Races” with the goal of raising $500,000 by the end of the year.
“Canceling was not a decision that was made lightly, and the repercussions have been significant both fiscally and emotionally. We greatly missed our September Family but safety and following Nevada’s restrictions on gathering size unquestionably had to be our priority as we sought to preserve the long-term viability of the Reno Air Races,” said Fred Telling, CEO of RARA. “We are doing everything in our power to make next year happen but we can’t do it alone. We’re asking our fans and supporters to help show 2020 that it won’t get the best of us, that we will continue the legacy of this event for many years to come.”
Going into 2020, RARA already faced challenges as cost increases outpaced income. While the 2019 event was successful with great racing, performers and increased non-local attendance the organization still experienced a significant financial loss, largely due to an unexpected increase in insurance premiums of $160,000. While the association had budgeted accordingly for 2020, any opportunity to recover was completely cut off by COVID-19 and instead the issue was compounded.
No event meant no income. Without ticket sales, only expenses were left. The organization did receive some federal aid which was used to retain staff and cover operating costs during the shutdown in May and June when hosting an event in 2020 was still anticipated.
After evaluating the 2020 numbers and gearing up for planning next year’s event, RARA is still facing a significant shortfall. They were hopeful that the release of a video message, individual donations, additional federal aid and the call to either roll-over or donate 2020 tickets would provide the necessary income. While about 12% of the ticket proceeds were donated and regular donations did increase, it has unfortunately not been enough.
“We did not want to make this kind of plea as we know this has been a trying time for so many, but the uncertainty we face has left us without other options,” said Tony Logoteta, COO of RARA. “After announcing the cancellation, we made the difficult decision to reduce staff by 75%, while also extending cost cutting measures and exploring creative fundraising and marketing opportunities, but there is still a pretty large gap between where we are and where we need to be.”
Now, RARA is seeking a path forward. The association will need to fill some essential staff positions by January or February to pick up planning for an event in 2021, a task not easily handled by the current team of two.
“We are absolutely moving forward planning for the return of the races, but I’m not sure the gravity of our situation is widely understood so we are being completely candid and asking for help,” said Telling.
Telling has served as CEO in a volunteer capacity since 2018 to help with some of the non-profit’s financial needs.
“We took on a big challenge and ran a tight ship over the last two years,” said Telling. “We’ve made significant strides that wouldn’t have been possible without our dedicated board and more than a thousand volunteers who selflessly donate their time, but all of the financial progress was lost this year.”
Also lost this year was the $100 million in total economic impact generated by the event to the Reno-Tahoe region, which has been hit especially hard by the cancellation of dozens of large events.
Though RARA needs to generate more than $1 million to be on sound footing for the longer term, the association is looking to raise $500,000 by the end of the year. Without it the 57th National Championship Air Races are in jeopardy.
“The funds raised have carried us this far, but it is not enough to get us through the end of this year and into the beginning of our planning season,” said Logoteta. “We are in need of new income to make the necessary investments for an event in 2021.”
RARA is launching a fundraising campaign to raise the money in addition to efforts already underway including the sale of a small hangar, a series of upcoming online auctions and sponsorship opportunities.
The initial funds will be used to hire critical staff and begin to pay for the ongoing costs necessary to produce the large-scale event whose mission is to celebrate and preserve air racing’s rich history, while honoring military and inspiring youth. A fundraiser has been set up to help reach this goal which can be found at airrace.org/save-the-races/. All donations are tax deductible and can be made online or by check and mailed to 14501 Mt. Anderson St. Reno, NV 89506.
Next year’s National Championship Air Races are scheduled for Sept. 15–19. More information can be found at AirRace.org.
About the National Championship Air Races
The National Championship Air Races are held every September just north of Reno by the Reno Air Racing Association, a 501(c)(3). The event has become an institution for Northern Nevada and aviation enthusiasts from around the world with seven racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civilian flight demonstrations. Independent economic impact studies show that the event generates as much as $100 million annually for the local economy. For more information on the National Championship Air Races, visit AirRace.org.