As we prepare for the new season, let’s review what happened last year – organizationally – with RARA and what it means for the races – going forward.
It was Mike Crowell’s first year at the helm of RARA, the governing body for the National Championship Air Races. He joined RARA as President and CEO in February of 2015. His extensive executive experience in Sales, Marketing and Operations with the Coca-Cola Company brings a level of leadership and business acumen we haven’t seen in years.
“The National Championship Air Races is not only the fastest motor sport in the world and an event that is followed by aviation enthusiasts from around the world, but it’s a treasure for our community,” said Crowell. “Our goal for this year was to look at this event like a business and operate in such a way that would ensure it is around for many years to come. We had to make some tough decisions to get our costs in line, but with the support of our board, staff, event chairs and dedicated volunteers, we were able to turn a budgeted $630,000 loss for the year into a $100,000 projected profit, which is exactly what we needed to do.”
Preparation for the 2016 Reno Air Races is on schedule. John Agather, Chairman of the Reno Air Races Board, shared this with us.
Last year was survival. This year is stabilization. Next year is growth. We have the BEST fans in the world. I've never seen a more dedicated, knowledgeable, and loyal fan base. I think we have the largest major, motorized sports event in the world that's manned almost exclusively by volunteers. Where else but in this great country would you find that?
Actually, this should be a great year, with RARA making a profit last year. For the first time in many years, they were in the black. That is great for their survival and for setting up for the future.
The Blue Angels will be returning in 2016. This means the crowds will be even better. While over 150,000 attended last year’s event, we should see this grow significantly.
We just heard that the Wings of Blue will be part of the Opening Ceremonies this year. They are the US Air Force Skydiving Team and are quite impressive to watch.
More on the Air Show attractions in the future.
NBC Sports Special
How many of you were able to catch the Reno Air Races one-hour Special on NBC Sports? Truthfully, it was a great way to get a little more exposure for our sport. NBC did a nice job showing the highlights – of course, there is always of room for improvement. I would like to see them lengthening the show and covering the other classes – but it definitely whets the appetites of speed lovers who were able to catch the show. I hope they replay it over and over to get as much coverage as possible.
Air Race 1
Air Race 1 World Cup has been organizing additional races for the International Formula 1 Class. They had a successful racing series in 2015 and had planned 4 additional races in 2016. Unfortunately, they are suspending their schedule for 2016. More when we know.
National Aviation Heritage Invitational
The National Aviation Heritage Invitational (NAHI) has also decided to suspend their plans for 2016.
The Invitational is all about recognizing the excellent preservation and restoration of vintage aircraft – all in airworthy condition. This event has been taking place on the east side of the ramp, near the Jet Class Pit Area. Fans would come in and view the beautiful antiques and vote on their favorites. Later in the week, a grand trophy would be presented to the winner. It is a bit of a trek from the Pits but a great addition to the races.
One of the beautiful antiques displayed each year at NAHI
Credit: Tim Adams
NAHI sent out a press release saying they will be suspending their event this year at the National Championships Air Races (NCAR) and did not give a specific reason. RARA was surprised to hear this – since they felt they were still in negotiations. It seems with the Blue Angels on the ramp this year; last time they flew out of Naval Air Station Fallon, space is quite limited.
RARA sent out their Press Release basically asking NAHI to reconsider. Let’s hope they can work this out. It’s a great addition to the show and many of the fans enjoy the displays.
Many more exciting things are coming. We will be covering everything leading up to the Races in September. But, this year will be worth attending. See you there!
Ruby Red Racing
Ruby Red Racing
Thanks to Tim Adams for supplying this month's Photography.