Reno 2023 - New dreams - More Tragedy

By Willie Bodenstein


Like Oshkosh when one says Reno the images of aircraft is what immediately come to mind. Both run for seven days and both draw masses of spectators but that is where the similarities end. Oshkosh is one massive fly in with an airshow attached to it. Reno is an adrenalin filled festival of high-octane aviation racing during which pilots race specialized aircraft around courses in the Nevada desert marked with pylons. Some airshow element is an added drawcord.

Kitplanes for Africa

The event, which has taken place at the Reno venue for 60 years featured six racing classes and runs from 13 September to the seventeenth. The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA), the organising body announced earlier this year that it would no longer hold the races at Reno after 2023. The main reason being urban encroachment the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority has made the decision to sunset the event.


To get an idea of the area needed is that there are roughly five miles from the home pylon to the farthest out pylon on the Unlimited course and about four miles across. It's not exactly 20 square miles excluding the large ramp, that is a lot of land that have to have cleared to run these races. Add to that a locality within an hour drive that can handle the kinds of crowds that Reno attracts shows that finding a suitable venue for 2024 is not going to be a piece of cake.

Pilots returning this year included several repeat winners and fan favourites, such as Steve Hinton Jr. and Vicky Benzing, as well as Steve Hinton Sr., who this year flew the pace aircraft.

the Unlimited class, made up of extensively modified World War II fighters, is the most highly anticipated race and caps off the weeklong event on Sunday afternoon. This year's field was, as was to be expected, steeped in history, with machines including the Bardahl Special, Dreadnought, Miss America and Plum Crazy. Legends in the other classes set to compete are 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.


Altitude regulations instituted by the FAA after the 2011 crash of racer Jimmy Leeward in the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost set the maximum racing altitude at 400 feet agl for Unlimited competitors in the Bronze Race, 325 feet in the Silver, and 250 feet in the Gold. Minimum altitude for each race is 50 feet agl.

All was going well until Sunday when at the finish of the T-6 Class the two North American Texan's, Six-Cat piloted by Nick Macy and Baron's Revenge with Chris Rushing collided during landing. Rushing was the defending champion in the race and placed first, Macy was placed second. Both died.


Originally it was thought that the races may continue as Sunday was the final for most of the classes. However, RARA, after discussing the situation with the pilots' families and representatives of the race classes that had not yet completed all of their scheduled races decided to end the event.

The good news is that RARA is confident that the event will continue and that a new venue will be found. In fact, they announced that they are currently exploring several other possible locations to host the event in the future.

Bonus Video

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Events 2023

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