RARA Cancels Reno Air Races 2020

The association cites long-term viability of the event.

2019 Reno air race
The 2019 Reno air races featured the first demonstration of the STOL Drag competition.Courtesy Pia Bergqvist

The Reno Air Racing Association has cancelled the 2020 Stihl National Championship Races, normally to take place in Reno, Nevada, on September 16 to 20. The association cites the long-term viability of the event, along with concerns for participants’ health and safety in light of the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” said Fred Telling, CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. “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 24th 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.”

Government-imposed restrictions on large-scale events continue—and uncertainly surrounding when those restrictions may lift—and has had a chilling effect on the aviation industry’s air show business. However, the resiliency of those who develop and execute air shows and air races depends on advance planning and making the most of the current situation.

“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 September 15 to 19, 2021, but know we will need the continuing support of our fans and community more than ever,” said Telling.

The 2020 event was to be the first to feature the hot new STOL Drag competition—which in 2019 was featured as a demonstration to great crowd response.