The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) will unveil the Unlimited Warbird Racing Class at the 50th annual National Championship Air Races this September.
Headquartered in northern Nevada, the Unlimited Warbird Racing Class (UWRC) was formed to take the place of the previous Unlimited Racing Division of the National Air Racing Group.
The UWRC has secured many of the same pilots who usually compete in the races as part of unlimited racing, including crowd favorites and former champions, such as Curt Brown flying “Sawbones,” Tom Richard flying “Precious Metal,” Sherman Smoot flying “Czech Mate,” fan favorite “Voodoo” and John Bagley flying Bob Hoover’s legendary aircraft “Ole Yeller.”
Additionally, RARA announced that Air Race legend and seven-time Unlimited champion, Bill “Tiger” Destefani will serve as the president of the new race class. Any pilot who is currently qualified to race in Unlimited racing will be welcome to participate in the UWRC.
“We think the formation of this new racing class is a positive step toward preserving air racing in Reno for the next 50 years,” said Destefani. “This class will feature former air race champions, aviation legends, space shuttle astronauts and some of the most famous aircraft in the world and will ensure our fans continue to see many of their favorite pilots and planes.”
RARA officials note they have held “several very positive discussions” with the FAA regarding formation of the UWRC and is currently working to become accredited through the FAA’s formal accreditation process.
The establishment of this new racing class is a result of the current Unlimited Racing Division’s inability to reach an agreement with the FAA and RARA on a few very complex issues, officials noted.
“The safety of our pilots and spectators is the absolute priority for the National Championship Air Races and, while we don’t anticipate that any rules will be substantially altered from last year’s very successful event, we continue to work with the FAA to more clearly define certain requirements on the race course and are coordinating efforts to finalize the rules of racing for this year’s event,” said Mike Houghton, president and CEO of RARA. “We understand and support the FAA’s effort to create a more defined set of rules for this historic event and the RARA contest committee, which is an autonomous organization chaired by General (retired) Ron Fogleman, former Chief of Staff for the United States Air Force, welcomes individual class participation in the application of the rules as defined for racing in Reno. We are looking forward to releasing a full list of pilots that will be participating in the Unlimited War Bird Racing Class in the very near future.”
The 50th annual National Championship Air Races take place this year from Sept. 11 through Sept. 15. Tickets are on sale now by phone at 775-972-6663 or online at AirRace.org.