The National Championship Air Races is more than a quarter of the way to raising the initial $500,000 of $1 million it needs to stage the 2021 races in Reno. The group sent out an appeal in early November for donations to start making up the funding shortfall that resulted from the cancellation of this year’s event in September due to the pandemic. “For more than 56 years, the National Championship Air Races has carried on a proud legacy. Now, that legacy is in jeopardy due to financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the race committee’s fundraising page says.
COVID-19 rules made holding the event impossible. Reno was already behind the eight ball going into 2020 thanks in part to an unanticipated $160,000 increase in insurance costs for the 2019 races. “While the team budgeted accordingly for 2020, any opportunity to recover was completely cut off by COVID-19 and instead the issue was compounded,” the group said. Ultimately, about $1 million is needed to ensure the races go ahead but the first $500,000 is critical to lay the groundwork. The race organizers have slashed expenses, organized online events and auctions and even sold a hangar to keep the lights on but the future is dependent on the fundraising campaigns, they say.