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Thread: What If....2021

  1. #11

    Default Re: What If....2021

    Maybe the way to cut down on the slower heats (especially with the overflowing sport class) is smaller qualifier events leading up to Reno. I want to say Mr. Telling talked about this at the banquet a couple years ago. How much liability/complexity does it add to an existing airshow if you have something like the medallion sport class or biplane bronze as one of the acts?

    F1 has a qualifying scheme built around entertainment. Daytona has the qualifying races. There are definitely other ways of doing qualifying, though that would seem to put teams and pilots more at risk to jump straight into racing with less time to shake off any rust during practice/qualifying time. But then RARA and FAA could probably justly point out that is the responsibilities of the pilots to be proficient leading up to the event....mmm
    "young" Thomas

  2. #12
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    This is an interesting discussion. When I started coming to the races in '88, I had a young family and very few extra dollars. So Reno was a long drive (Everett, WA) to Reno on Friday, two days at the races, and a long drive home on Monday. And to this day, that is my experience of the races - Saturday and Sunday. I have thought about coming earlier, but work and family commitments have always made that hard. I guess that means I'm kind of a die-hard race fan. I've been coming to the races for 30 years but only on Saturday and Sunday.

    It makes sense to me that Reno needs to be a combination of airshow and air racing. Both to be attractive and interesting to more casual attendees, and to have things going on while racers are recovering and launching. As much as I could watch racing all day, the friends I've brought over the years have always enjoyed the aerobatics (and other) demos as least as much as the racing.

    I like the idea of making qualifying more difficult. If slots are going to be limited, then not everyone who shows up to qualify will race. Just like the unlimiteds in '88 and other classes since then (I think).

    Bottom line for me...as long as there is real racing at Reno, I will attend. And maybe it is long past time to expand my attendance to include Fridays (and maybe even Thursdays).

    If, as suggested above, Reno needs to do a year (or two) of "parades" instead of racing, that is a bit tough to swallow. I would likely still attend, because I want the races to continue. Which means that I would want to see a lot of transparency from the air race organizers about the reasons for this, and their long-term intent. I would not want to be surprised by showing up expecting racing but instead seeing a flight demo (parade).

    I've never met or spoken to Owen / Air Boss but I like the tone/tenor of his questions and comments and trust his intent. I think discussions like this are a great use of this board and are an important part of helping the races evolve and last.

    Dan

  3. #13
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Thomas, good points!

    As long as the Medallion or Bronze "races" are an Exhibition, the financial impact is lessened significantly. If you intend to "qualify and race"

    And to your point, it should be incumbent upon the racers to ensure they are proficient...in a manner similar to what the FAA requires for aerobatic airshow performers to have documented practice of their routine within 15 days of the upcoming performance. And on a side note, performance at a previous waivered airshow does NOT count as a practice. Gives you sense of how the FAA regards the importance of proficiency.

    Coug86:
    Thanks for taking the time to offer up a thoughtful reply. I used to work for Mr. Paul Allen (legal dept. at Vulcan in charge of contracting for many acquisitions related to what was FHC and his private assets) and worked with Mr. John Sessions for his events across the way in past years. Sadly, both of those operations have either susupended or relocated.

    It's likely a horrible analogy but one can look at the recent election and gleen some facts about what happens when you spend the vast majority of your time, energy, and expenses "firing up the base." You don't expand that base.

    There are many hard choices to make...for 2021 and beyond. I remain confident RARA will weigh its options and make an informed decision on a way forward. I see it as a plan for 2021 and a 3-5 year plan. Without a successful 2021, the 3-5 year plan is in jeopardy.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  4. #14

    Default Re: What If....2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Coug86 View Post

    Bottom line for me...as long as there is real racing at Reno, I will attend. And maybe it is long past time to expand my attendance to include Fridays (and maybe even Thursdays).

    Dan
    Not to sway things too far off topic, but I find the early days of heat races to be the best days for close racing because qualifying shuffles people up.
    Easiest example is the nitrous RVs don't use nitrous during qualifying to save money, but then come race day(s) they add another 15-20mph.
    2018 Sport heat 1A is the most entertaining race to watch. (40 min)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIyoOXuBcx4

    And the Sport heat 2B is also very close (21 min)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1IzODMus00

    So Reno is currently scheduled to make the races more and more strung out. If Race#1 5mph slower than Race#2, then the battle for first will be great all race. But Race#2 will probably have enough advantage to makes a diving pass at the line. Then for the next heat, Race#2 slowly pulls away from Race#1 the entire race and the rest of the week.
    Now maybe Race#1 can do some tuning to find more speed, but that normally doesn't happen.

    But for it to be a fun race you really only need one of these battles per race. T6 and sometimes Biplane is a good example of this. Sometimes there are great races and other times they get all strung out.
    This is also why T6 1v1 can sometimes be a real drag....
    "young" Thomas

  5. #15
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Owen, maybe you can shed some light on this aspect:

    What is the cost vs. return spread for having 'extra' days of racing? I know you've done the work with the airshow at Seafair, so you're familiar with the operation there. From the hydroplane side, for years we have been trying to get race sites to contract their programs to a weekend program--all classes qualify and test on Saturday and all classes race on Sunday. But the race sites (including Seattle) WANT to have 'racing' spread out over a Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend so they can charge admission over more days.

    But at Reno, even during the halcyon days, the attendance on Wednesday and Thursday was minimal, and it would only start to pick up on Friday. The bulk of attendance was always on Saturday and Sunday (and lets be honest, a big percentage of those numbers are the 'same' people...so when you claim you have 150,000 people attending, a lot of them are the same people counted for multiple days).

    So I am wondering how much each 'extra' day that Reno is run actually COSTS RARA to run, because you know there is absolutely no way that money is being made from attendance on those days...but the expenses are still there for each day.

    To me, a contraction of the event (temporary, or otherwise), is the only solution that seems to make sense if you're trying to ensure its survival.
    Last edited by Big_Jim; 11-29-2020 at 07:36 AM.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Quote Originally Posted by CubersWrist View Post
    Not to sway things too far off topic, but I find the early days of heat races to be the best days for close racing because qualifying shuffles people up.
    Easiest example is the nitrous RVs don't use nitrous during qualifying to save money, but then come race day(s) they add another 15-20mph.
    2018 Sport heat 1A is the most entertaining race to watch. (40 min)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIyoOXuBcx4

    And the Sport heat 2B is also very close (21 min)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1IzODMus00

    So Reno is currently scheduled to make the races more and more strung out. If Race#1 5mph slower than Race#2, then the battle for first will be great all race. But Race#2 will probably have enough advantage to makes a diving pass at the line. Then for the next heat, Race#2 slowly pulls away from Race#1 the entire race and the rest of the week.
    Now maybe Race#1 can do some tuning to find more speed, but that normally doesn't happen.

    But for it to be a fun race you really only need one of these battles per race. T6 and sometimes Biplane is a good example of this. Sometimes there are great races and other times they get all strung out.
    This is also why T6 1v1 can sometimes be a real drag....
    Thanks for the links and the comments, Thomas. Like eveyone else, I love competitive racing (I'll watch almost anything race...animal, man, or machine...don't care!) and that's one of my central points. For the hard core race fans (who understand and appreciate what it takes to race...i.e., AAFO'ers) racing is racing and a significant part of the reward is in the challenge of doing. For those who are casual fans or new to racing, watching a race with a 40-50mph delta or more between first and last place is not exactly a spectacle. It's a parade. That scenario will not likely capture their attention for long. And those are the folks we need to infest so they are burning with the fire of the newly baptized! Reno is not likely to survive if we only preach to the choir.

    In order to do that I believe the event needs to be condensed to fewer/shorter days and limited number of entries determined by actual qualifying. The concept of knowing that if you don't "make the field" you go home serves as the incentive to do your homework from October to August. Dunno...I could be all wet here.

    Which leads me to an honest question for you and the group. A question I've heard from others as well and one I have no answer for, frankly. In your opinion, to what degree do pilots show up at PRS and Race Week partly, mostly, or solely because it's the only place they can fly low and fast? What percentage of pilots show up to get the adrenaline rush and it matters little where they "qual" or finish. They pay their entry fee, pass tech, fly a level lap and have fun in the desert for a week. Again, I don't have any idea how to answer that question so I look to others who actually participate. And if, to the extent that mentality does exist, should it be incumbent upon RARA to provide the environment and infrastructure to do so? Entirely, partially, or something less than that?

    As mentioned elsewhere Reno has existed mainly for and about the racers and welcomed all comers. That's what built this event and it should never be disregarded or forgotten. Those who came before us poured blood, sweat, and tears into keeping this thing alive and we do stand on their shoulders. To that end, to what degree should we change the center of gravity and structure at Reno to ensure there is something for those who follow us to stand on?
    Last edited by Air Boss; 11-29-2020 at 11:40 AM.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  7. #17
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Jim View Post
    Owen, maybe you can shed some light on this aspect:

    What is the cost vs. return spread for having 'extra' days of racing? I know you've done the work with the airshow at Seafair, so you're familiar with the operation there. From the hydroplane side, for years we have been trying to get race sites to contract their programs to a weekend program--all classes qualify and test on Saturday and all classes race on Sunday. But the race sites (including Seattle) WANT to have 'racing' spread out over a Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend so they can charge admission over more days.

    But at Reno, even during the halcyon days, the attendance on Wednesday and Thursday was minimal, and it would only start to pick up on Friday. The bulk of attendance was always on Saturday and Sunday (and lets be honest, a big percentage of those numbers are the 'same' people...so when you claim you have 150,000 people attending, a lot of them are the same people counted for multiple days).

    So I am wondering how much each 'extra' day that Reno is run actually COSTS RARA to run, because you know there is absolutely no way that money is being made from attendance on those days...but the expenses are still there for each day.

    To me, a contraction of the event (temporary, or otherwise), is the only solution that seems to make sense if you're trying to ensure its survival.
    I'll try, BJ...

    With respect to Seafair it's important to remember that just like Reno, we are wedging an fairly complex airshow into the middle of a very unpredictable racing event (accidents, blow-overs, etc.). We are joined at the hip. For example, we try NOT to schedule CAT III airshow acts immediately after an H1 event. The CAT III box is the defined by the race course lines (entrance and exit pins for H1 are the corners of the CAT III box). If we have a blow-over, the CAT III guys cannot fly with rescue folks recovering the driver and towing the boat back to the pits. It's a show stopper. Of course it depends on what other classes are racing at Seafair. It's not just H1, but Vintage "races" (akin to an "Exhibition Race" at Reno), Grand Prix, Formula's (not racing on the big course though so it typically won't effect the airshow).

    Dedicating Saturday to testing and quals and Sunday to racing would essentially throw a grenade into the airshow side of the house. Simply not enough time. The schedule at Seafair is very tight, just like Reno. Condensing 3-4 days of testing, quals, heats, and racing into two days means there would be little to no time left for the airshow. And recall that historically Seafair doesn't charge admission for Friday...only Sat and Sun. Frankly, given the current state of H1 if the airshow component were to be diminished or eliminated from the weekend I doubt Seafair would survive. (this is where, if you dare, you can substitute "air racing" for "H1" and "Reno" for "Seafair.) It took me a few years but finally convinced Seafair to move the Blues from 1200 to 1500. We invivted the CEO up the Air Boss stand to watch the Blues, then watch the mass exodus from the beach, stands, VIP tents and Logboom immediately after their performance, with four or more hours of racing left in the day. It was an epiphany and the Blues moved to 1500. What makes Reno a bit different is that we can pull off some airshow acts during the join up for T-6, Sport, Jet's and UNL's. Can't do that at Seafair.

    As for the ROI for additional days, I think it's a two-fold scenario. There are fixed costs that would be incurred regardless of the number of days and then there are costs associated with the day to day operation. It's the latter of those two that impacts the bottom line as a variable. There's no question that if Reno moved from a 9+ day event (remember, racers must arrive NLT 1200 Saturday prior...longer if you factor all the volunteer and paid staff support that goes into the week prior to Race Week), to an event that ran say, 5 days, that would reflect positively on the balance sheet. I can't speak to the elephant in the room...insurance but I'd have to believe if we're running fewer races on fewer days it woule mean lower costs. For 2021, I'd strongly support a three-day airhsow that includes "Exhibition" or each racing class, not holding PRS (extend thru 2022), and take a one-year hiatus from the NBCSN deal. Not privy to hard numbers but suspect we're talking saving an amount roughly equivilent to what RARA is seeking in their "#SavetheRaces" fundraising campaign.

    If you think about Reno in the broader context (PRS and Race Week), it involves essentially two weeks of on-field operations (four days of PRS and nine + days of Race Week). Obviously many more if you consider what it takes to build up to those operational days. And to your point, well over 60% of those operational days do NOT involve paid admission. One doesn't need to be Copernicus to run those numbers. That is something I feel should be addressed.

    I firmly believe condensing the operation, limiting the entries, and rebalancing the ratio between racing and airshow will go a long way in preserving this event in a manner which remains faithful to its history but focused on its future.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  8. #18
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Owen, I don't think I'd be alone in my feeling that our sport is extremely LUCKY to have someone like you as AB!

    Three cheers for Air Boss
    Wayne Sagar
    "Pusher of Electrons"

  9. #19
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Thank you, Wayne. Much appreciated, sir.

    I hope I offer some unique insights...understanding that I'm speaking only for myself, as a fan. Can be a fine line.

    Regardless of what RARA decides for 2021 and beyond, I will, of course, be the good soldier and give it 110%.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  10. #20
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Yes, Thanks Owen for your dedication to the Reno Air Races. Your inputs will help it survive into the future. The 3 day option is viable. I can't count the times I went from Sunday to Sunday.
    Lockheed Bob

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