Reno Air Races Reveal Final List of Participating Pilots, Aircraft

Elite lineup embodies history and skill that have made the competition an aviation classic.

The Hawker Sea Fury named Dreadnaught is a Reno fixture and multiple winner. [Courtesy: RARA]

The Reno Air Racing Association, or RARA, released the lineup of pilots and aircraft that will compete in this year’s National Championship Air Races, which will be the last held at Reno-Stead Airport (KRTS).

The event, which has taken place at the Reno venue for 60 years, will feature six racing classes and runs September 13 through 17. RARA announced earlier this year that it would no longer hold the races at Reno after 2023. The group has said the races will resume at another location in 2025 but has not identified the place.

“We knew that our last year in Reno would be one for the books and we have been overwhelmed with support from racers, fans, volunteers and more,” said Fred Telling, CEO of RARA. “This final racing lineup is truly amazing with beloved pilots and planes returning, as well as some surprises. It’s a lineup that will make for an exciting event and sweet sendoff to Reno as we prepare to land on our next location.”

Pilots returning this year include several repeat winners and fan favorites, such as Steve Hinton Jr. and Vicky Benzing, as well as Steve Hinton Sr., who will fly the pace aircraft.

Among the nearly 150 airplanes expected to race are well-known competitors like Atomic Pumpkin and Limitless in the Formula 1 class, American Spirit and Just Lucky in the Jet category, and Millennial Falcon and Screamin Mimi in the Sport class.

As always, the Unlimited class, made up of modified World War II fighters, is the most highly anticipated race and caps off the weeklong event on Sunday afternoon. This year’s field is steeped in history, with machines including the Bardahl Special, Dreadnought, Miss America and Plum Crazy.

“The Reno Air Races are the premier aviation event which captures the pioneering spirit,” said Steven Hinton, seven-time Reno Air Races Unlimited Gold Champion. “Every year, we convene at Stead Field, the only place in the world that allows us to push the envelope testing our skill, knowledge and experience in head-to-head racing against equally talented pilots. To be among the racers, crews and volunteers in Reno that will make this final race a success is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

RARA said that while certain upgraded tickets for the event are sold out, general admission, reserved grandstand and pit passes are still available. The group encourages race fans to visit the RARA website for more information. And, look for preview coverage of key racers in the September print edition of FLYING, which subscribers will receive starting this week.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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