Reno Air Races CEO Mike Houghton Departs

RARA's President and CEO Mike Houghton departs.

Reno Air Races 2013
Reno Air Races 2013Flying

The National Championship Air Races, the annual pylon race outside Reno, Nevada, continues to show distress as a result of the tragic Galloping Ghost accident in 2011. The Reno Air Race Association, which organizes the daredevil show, has ousted its long-time president and CEO Mike Houghton, who has led the organization for more than 15 years.

Houghton told the Reno Gazette-Journal that, while not a total shock, the action was "disappointing and devastating." Rather than naming a new president and CEO in Houghton's place, the organization will, at least for the time being, be lead by RARA's board of directors.

In a statement RARA's board members announced that Houghton was relieved of his service due to "financial challenges" within the organization. RARA said it is restructuring its organization to "ensure long-term sustainability." While the statement did not disclose Houghton's salary, it said costs to run the event have quadrupled since the accident. "Operating costs alone have risen by nearly $3 million in the last two years, driven primarily by insurance," said Mike Major, the chairman of RARA's board of directors. "Our foremost priority as a board is to keep the Reno Air Races tradition alive for another 50 years."

RARA initiated an emergency fundraiser at the end of November, when it urged race lovers to donate money to reach a $500,000 goal by December 15. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported on December 12 that the fundraiser goal was just about achieved.

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