The Reno Air Racing Association announced the cancellation of the 2020 STIHL National Championship Air Races, originally scheduled for Sept. 16-20.

The Reno Air Racing Association board of directors reiterated their principal concern for the safety and health of all involved, and in light of continuing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and government-imposed restrictions for large-scale events, has decided to turn all efforts to 2021.

“This decision was not made lightly. It’s difficult to capture the sadness we feel for our September Family who we won’t have the chance to see this year. However, we need to approach this with safety for all involved as our highest priority,” Fred Telling, CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association, said in a news release. “We recognize and appreciate the great responsibilities Nevada’s government leaders bear as they weigh health concerns against economic well-being for Nevada as a whole. With the June 24 announcement that the state of Nevada will remain under Phase Two guidelines for the foreseeable future we cannot feasibly move forward with planning our event.”


Recently, the University of Nevada, Reno conducted an economic impact study of the 2019 STIHL National Championship Air Races, which found that the event hosts nearly 70,000 total unique attendees generating more than $100 million in economic impact to the Reno-Tahoe region by non-local visitors.

“We are deeply conscious of the cultural and economic loss to the community due to the cancellation of so many special events this year. We look forward to hosting the 57th STIHL National Championship Air Races Sept. 15-19, 2021 but know we will need the continuing support of our fans and community more than ever,” Telling said.

Tony Logoteta, COO of the Reno Air Racing Association, said many considerations were factored in to make the decision to cancel this year’s event. Besides the uncertainty around the state of the pandemic in September and safely hosting a large event in that climate, they took a look at the long-term ramifications.

“Beyond health and safety, our primary focus has to be the long-term viability of this iconic event rather than a high-risk gamble on the current year,” Logoteta said . “It’s been a challenging year for everyone and we have seen the financial effects across all revenue streams. It’s time for us to take a step back and assess our situation so that we can work toward ensuring the future of air racing beginning in 2021.

Enjoy Go Pro footage as pilot Marilyn Dash participates in the Reno Championship Air Races.

Logoteta said the organization saw an 80 percent overall decrease in revenue from March to June 2020 compared to 2019. As a 501(c)(3), the Reno Air Racing Association relies on donations, in addition to ticket sales, sponsorships, concessions and merchandise sales to host the event.

“We typically have a no refund policy on tickets because they are so essential to our ongoing operating income, but given the circumstances, we will be providing more options for those who have already purchased tickets,” Logoteta said. “With that being said we are hoping that patrons will rollover their ticket purchases to the 2021 event or, if they are able, donate this year’s purchase as a tax-deductible contribution to help keep the Reno Air Races alive.”

The Reno Air Racing Association is asking that ticket holders submit their preference online by July 15. Requests will be collected and evaluated, and processing will begin later in July. If no request is made, the purchase will automatically rollover to the 2021 event.

Visit AirRace.org to learn more.