This year’s demonstration may lead to first new racing class in more than 20 years

RENO, Nev. (July 16, 2019) —Combine heart pounding head-to-head racing with major horsepower and a little dirt and you’ve got the STOL Drag Racing Demonstration. Set to make its debut at the STIHL National Championship Air Races Sept. 11-15 in Reno, Nev., organizers hope this year’s demonstration becomes a brand-new racing class in the future.

“It’s like car drag racing meets aviation and it’s going to bring a whole new energy to the races in September,” said Kevin Quinn, president and founder of STOL Drag.

Quinn is no stranger to this type of racing. Quinn has been hosting a fly-in event in the Nevada desert called the High Sierra Fly In since 2008. Since its conception, the High Sierra Fly In has garnered a dedicated following with nearly 450 airplanes and 2,000 spectators participating last year, catching the attention of the Reno Air Racing Association.

“This is an exciting new idea, something that we’ve never seen before, and we knew we had to find a way to get it to the races,” said Fred Telling, chief executive officer of the Reno Air Racing Association.

The STOL group attended the annual Pylon Racing Seminar, a required safety training, in June of this year and received FAA sign-off for a demonstration at the 2019 STIHL National Championship Air Races.

“We see this as a huge opportunity for STOL Drag Racing,” said Quinn. “We’ve got two planes racing head-to-head, 20 feet off the ground, doing 100 mph, 50 feet apart – it’s going to blow everyone’s minds. We really hope it will continue to grow and we can compete as our own class in the future.”

The STOL (short take-off and landing) Drag Racing Demonstration rules are simple. Racers take off down the 2,000-foot course, accelerating enough but not too much in order to land at the line at the designated halfway point, come to a complete stop, pivot 180 degrees and take off again towards the original start line.

The clock starts as soon as the wheels start spinning and ends when the plane is at a full stop. If a plane lands short of the halfway line or the finish line, there is a two second penalty – total of four possible. If the plane does not come to a complete stop on heading at the designated halfway or the finish line they will be disqualified and if a plane slips into a competitor’s lane they are instantly disqualified.

If all goes well this September, the Reno Air Racing Association may be announcing the first new racing class at the National Championship Air Races in more than 20 years.

The 2019 STIHL National Championship Air Races returns Sept. 11–15, 2019, just 20 minutes north of downtown Reno. Attendees can witness the fastest motorsport in the world as six racing classes go head-to-head plus demonstrations by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the National Aviation Heritage Invitational. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit


About the STIHL National Championship Air Races: 
The STIHL 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 six 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 $91.7 million annually for the local economy. The event is now part of the Grunt Style Air Show Majors, a six-stop tour uniting the most prestigious air shows in the country. For more information on the 2019 STIHL National Championship Air Races, to obtain media credentials, volunteer, be a vendor or purchase tickets for this year’s event, visit