The board of directors of the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) are fighting to save the races and ensure a 51st race happens in September 2014. The following letter from RARA President and CEO Mike Houghton admits more details will follow, but a chief task is to “raise $500,000 in commitments, funds and debt reduction by Sunday, Dec. 15 of this year.” Read Mike’s letter below:
“On the heels of a spectacular and historic 50th National Championship Air Races, the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) is looking forward to the next 50 years. This year’s event marked a recovery from the many emotional, financial and operational challenges of the last three years. The crowds were back, the weather was good and the racing was thrilling and safe.
“However, as we work to build for the future, we are faced with a set of significant challenges posed in the wake of a third year of financial losses. As a not-for-profit organization, RARA is committed to preserving and growing air racing and we are dedicated to creating long-term financial sustainability. As such, we have carefully evaluated our current financial position and we have been forced to make some agonizing and difficult decisions. Effective immediately, we have implemented furloughs and wage and benefit reductions on all RARA staff. Additionally, we have made the heartbreaking decision to eliminate certain positions.
“I have always believed that the fans, volunteers, pilots, staff and sponsors of the Reno Air Races are a family and these decisions were not made lightly. I have been humbled by the dedication and response of our staff as they diligently work to continue this world-class event. In fact, our third-party marketing partners – both of which we have had long-standing relationships with – have committed to continuing to work with us, without a formal contract, ensuring no notable changes to our marketing and communication efforts.
“As difficult as these steps are, they are intended with the sole purpose of keeping air racing alive and preserving this historic aviation event for our community and the world. In short, in order to address the operational costs of 2014 and beyond, including an oppressive insurance premium, we need to raise $500,000 in commitments, funds and debt reduction by Sunday, Dec. 15 of this year. While this might seem a daunting task, we have already made substantial strides in accomplishing this goal. Concurrently, through voting to immediately restructure the RARA board of directors and bylaws, our current board of directors is taking the steps to ensure an evolution of our fundraising and sponsorship model that allows us to grow this historic event far beyond 2014 and become more agile in the decision process.
“Unquestionably, we need your immediate help and support. We are rapidly developing an exciting, new fundraising campaign that aims to quickly engage air race fans and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world and we’ll be releasing details before Thanksgiving on our website and Facebook page. Existing reserved and box seat holders are currently ordering their 2014 tickets and General Admission, unreserved Boxes and Seats will be available to the public on March 1, 2014.
“We recently celebrated 50 great years of air racing and are optimistic, that we will celebrate many more. This can only happen with the continued and increased support of our worldwide family.”