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Thread: What If....2021

  1. #1
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    Default What If....2021

    I've hijacked a quote from Wingman on another thread to open this thread and set the table:

    "Qualifying alone was exciting because you knew, and the pilots knew, that several teams that had worked and suffered to get there would not even get to race because there were several more racers than available slots."

    What if the rules for each class were changed to require aircraft to actually qualify...not just pass inspection and do one level lap...in order to race? Meaning:

    What if you had to qualify at a minimum speed to make the show and there were limited number of slots per class?

    What if you didn't reach the minimum speed or didn't make the cut and you had to go home, do your homework, and come back in 2022?

    What if qualifications were held on Monday and Tuesday only, racing stared Wednesday 0800?

    What if the slower divisions in each class (Medallion, Bronze, etc.) ran their "Finals" on Friday (after two days of actual quals and two days of heat races), leaving only the faster divisions in each class to run on Saturday and Sunday?

    What if...?
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

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

    OR, what if we tightened everything up?

    Say 14 or 16 slots for each class and only ran Silver and Gold brackets? Qualifying Wednesday and Thursday, racing Friday-Sunday, like they used to do it up through 1982? Did away with the fluff and ran a tight program.

    Save money and make the time count.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Jim View Post
    OR, what if we tightened everything up?

    Say 14 or 16 slots for each class and only ran Silver and Gold brackets? Qualifying Wednesday and Thursday, racing Friday-Sunday, like they used to do it up through 1982? Did away with the fluff and ran a tight program.

    Save money and make the time count.
    Yet another option I've been kicking around in my head. Having folks there from 1200Sat thru 1700 Sunday seems like overkill and very expensive. No need.

    I can't go into detail at this time but suffice to say much of what you've proposed here is included in what I hope to float up the pipeline.

    Good stuff, sir. Thanks for a concise and thoughtful reply!
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What If....2021

    A couple of thoughts here. First of all, I liked the fluff. I loved having stuff happening all week, but that really doesn't address the question at hand. I would be concerned about the fate of the other classes with a drastically shortened Race week. In 1980 there were only 4 racing classes ( and there were a couple of years without even the T-6 class after an accident). Now you have a zillion Sport class people as well as the jets and reasonably full fields in the traditional classes other than Unlimiteds. One of the reasons, I think, for going to Wednesday afternoon racing was to allow time for another 12 or so races in the new classes during the Racing days. This also allowed for somewhat shorter racing days -- between a lot of racing and a lot of aerobatics and such, race days used to run really late in the afternoon. 9 AM to 6 or 6:30 PM makes for an awfully long day for those folks in the stands. In general, I don't think less racing will address the problems you guys are looking at here.

    Keep in mind that I no longer attend the event, so I no longer have a dog in this hunt. I just thought I'd throw in a couple of thoughts.

    Neal
    Last edited by wingman; 11-27-2020 at 03:17 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What If....2021

    The goals are to save money and/or increase spectator and sponsor attendance.

    I don't know that higher stakes/risks entices people to come. (ie not a deal maker, but for some pilots and teams it could be a deal breaker). Sport Class already turns teams away in the interest of saving people money.

    Does this save this strategy save RARA a substantial amount of money?
    "young" Thomas

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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Neal,
    Whether or not you attend the event is, at least to me, immaterial. Your input is no less valuable. In fact I'd argue given your history here you may hold a unique position and I thank you for offering your feedback. As the saying goes, those who chose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it. To your point there are only some many minutes in the day. Question is...who gets to claim what percentage of those minutes.

    Thomas,
    There is lies the issue. In my humble opinion (that and $5.00 will get you a Starbucks!), if Reno is to survive it must produce a competitive event coupled with a world-class airshow. That means hard choice about who gets to race, how they "qualify", and how many hours are spent "racing" versus how many hours are spent entertaining the paying public and keeping major sponsors and the concessionaires happy.

    I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that a 9-day event event is overkill. Simply put...those days have passed into history.

    Great feedback Fellas...hope we hear from others.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

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

    All the fluff could go away and it would make me a happy guy. I’ve always subscribed to the view of “Tricks are for kids, racing is for adults.” The problem with that is I’m one of the very few with that narrow view. Whatever puts butts in seats is the right choice. I personally love the early days of the week. Saturday and Sunday arrivals are fantastic. That’s when I take the kids to the pits and actually get to talk and hang out with pilots, owners, and crew. Monday thru Wednesday is when I spend all of my money on souvenirs and food and tickets and pit passes. I generally spend the rest of my week in the VOS, stopwatch in hand. The aerobatics give me a break to make lunch for the kids, run the gate or just BS with old friends that only get to see once a year.

    If it must change to survive then so be it. I’m perfectly comfortable with the current schedule. I basically know it by heart and my life during race week is very predictable and easy to sell to the wife. However if there were all racing and no fluff, I think it would be awesome.
    Last edited by Fence Sence; 11-28-2020 at 10:41 AM.
    You'll get your chance, smart guy!

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    Default Re: What If....2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Fence Sence View Post
    All the fluff could go away and it would make me a happy guy. I’ve always subscribed to the view of “Tricks are for kids, racing is for adults.” The problem with that is I’m one of the very few with that narrow view. Whatever puts butts in seats is the right choice. I personally love the early days of the week. Saturday and Sunday arrivals are fantastic. That’s when I take the kids to the pits and actually get to talk and hang out with pilots, owners, and crew. Monday thru Wednesday is when I spend all of my money on souvenirs and food and tickets and pit passes. I generally spend the rest of my week in the VOS, stopwatch in hand. The aerobatics give me a break to make lunch for the kids, run the gate or just BS with old friends that only get to see once a year.

    If it must change to survive then so be it. I’m perfectly comfortable with the current schedule. I basically know it by heart and my life during race week is very predictable and easy to sell to the wife. However if there were all racing and no fluff, I think it would be awesome.
    Thanks much, Nick. Certainly understand and appreciate where you're coming from on this.

    When "Big Jim" mentioned "fluff" I presumed he was referring to the non-racing events of the day, which I take is exactly where you're coming from as well. To your point, however, I firmly believe the concept of eliminating non-racing events at Reno would be the death knell. I'm not the numbers guy but I've been working airshows for over a decade and working at Reno since 2003 and I firmly believe the way forward is a stronger balance between racing and airshow.

    What will put butts in the seats is a strong combination of highly-competitive racing action and a world-class airshow. Reno is so unique that I don't think it would survive with one side of the house or the other. Reno needs both as the history there is based upon racing but its survival cannot be based on its history. Just as Oskkosh earned it street-cred as an amazing Fly-in and exposition with an amazing airshow, so must Reno build on that approach.

    All the above and elsewhere on this site are my personal thoughts on what it will take to keep you "On the Fence"... I hope and yours can spend many more years roaming the pits, buying the swag and enjoying the VoS! That Is Reno!
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

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

    By "fluff" I was referring to a bigger picture that we are running an event from dawn to dusk. I understand that from a scheduling standpoint (and remember, I have experience planning/running an airshow too), you need to have one aerobatic act to cover the dead time between each race...this allows racers to recover from the first race and stage for the following race. But with six classes, plus the STOL drags, T-6 drags, etc., going from dawn to dusk for five consecutive days of racing is too much. You are not going to bring in enough asses in the seats to monetarily justify that.

    I still maintain that a huge part of the longevity as an even that Reno has been is the fact that it's IN Reno and there is nightlife after the show. That is important to a big percentage of the spectators. Maybe not to the racers and die-hards, but to the more casual visitor. I know when I've brought friends and family to Reno in the past, that's what they wanted to do, and if they're 'stuck' out at Stead all day, they get pissy.

    I get that the Formulas and Bipes need to race in the morning before the winds kick up. But if you have a Sport Class with A-F heats, Gold/Silver/Bronze for any other classes that can fill out a 'full field' (which, according to each class can be anywhere between 14-36 aircraft), there is only so much time during a given day.

    So you either cut classes, or you cut the field size. Are you willing to get rid of the Jet Class to save the races? Sacrifice the Unlimited Class for the promotion of the Sport Class? You go to any other sporting event, motorsports or otherwise (unless it is a specific 'time' race like IMSA), and its over in three to four hours. The show at Reno should start at 10 and be done by 4. If you want to keep six classes of racing, then limit it to the top 14 racers, broken into Silver and Gold flights, and do it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can still have more entries in the classes, but turn qualifying into something that MEANS something...not just 'where' you start your heats. Gotta qualify to MAKE the field.

    And here's the thing...if you're on this site, reading this, and thinking that I'm being short sighted, I offer this. You are ON this site because you are a 'greater than average' air racing fan...one who doesn't mind spending all day out at the field, one that doesn't mind spending 10 days to cover arrivals/practice/qualifying/racing each year. YOU are not RARA's concern. YOU are not RARA's target audience. The show needs to cater to getting the other fans in through the gate...the ones who aren't willing to do all that.

    I agree with Owen that "those days are over"...at least for the time being. If RARA needs to produce a shorter, tighter program for a couple years in order to survive (and hopefully expand again down the road), are you willing to support that? Or are you willing to sacrifice the races PERIOD because you demand it the way they used to be?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Jim View Post
    By "fluff" I was referring to a bigger picture that we are running an event from dawn to dusk. I understand that from a scheduling standpoint (and remember, I have experience planning/running an airshow too), you need to have one aerobatic act to cover the dead time between each race...this allows racers to recover from the first race and stage for the following race. But with six classes, plus the STOL drags, T-6 drags, etc., going from dawn to dusk for five consecutive days of racing is too much. You are not going to bring in enough asses in the seats to monetarily justify that.

    I still maintain that a huge part of the longevity as an even that Reno has been is the fact that it's IN Reno and there is nightlife after the show. That is important to a big percentage of the spectators. Maybe not to the racers and die-hards, but to the more casual visitor. I know when I've brought friends and family to Reno in the past, that's what they wanted to do, and if they're 'stuck' out at Stead all day, they get pissy.

    I get that the Formulas and Bipes need to race in the morning before the winds kick up. But if you have a Sport Class with A-F heats, Gold/Silver/Bronze for any other classes that can fill out a 'full field' (which, according to each class can be anywhere between 14-36 aircraft), there is only so much time during a given day.

    So you either cut classes, or you cut the field size. Are you willing to get rid of the Jet Class to save the races? Sacrifice the Unlimited Class for the promotion of the Sport Class? You go to any other sporting event, motorsports or otherwise (unless it is a specific 'time' race like IMSA), and its over in three to four hours. The show at Reno should start at 10 and be done by 4. If you want to keep six classes of racing, then limit it to the top 14 racers, broken into Silver and Gold flights, and do it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can still have more entries in the classes, but turn qualifying into something that MEANS something...not just 'where' you start your heats. Gotta qualify to MAKE the field.

    And here's the thing...if you're on this site, reading this, and thinking that I'm being short sighted, I offer this. You are ON this site because you are a 'greater than average' air racing fan...one who doesn't mind spending all day out at the field, one that doesn't mind spending 10 days to cover arrivals/practice/qualifying/racing each year. YOU are not RARA's concern. YOU are not RARA's target audience. The show needs to cater to getting the other fans in through the gate...the ones who aren't willing to do all that.

    I agree with Owen that "those days are over"...at least for the time being. If RARA needs to produce a shorter, tighter program for a couple years in order to survive (and hopefully expand again down the road), are you willing to support that? Or are you willing to sacrifice the races PERIOD because you demand it the way they used to be?
    Excellent points my friend and thanks for clarifying. Could not agree more.

    To quote a famous early aviator after his last flight ended badly (a man whom the Wright Brothers regarded as a primary inspiration), "Sacrifices must be made." (Otto Lilienthal, August 9, 1896).

    It is time to rethink Reno in my opinion. As it stands, "qualifying" consists of showing up, passing tech inspection and flying one level lap...Bing...you're in. That is NOT qualifying. Limit total number of entries, establish minimum qualification speeds, two days of quals. If there is a Bronze division in a class, their championship is Friday. Silver and Gold only Sat and Sun. Throw in a top-shelf airshow Fri-Sun and I'd argue you're on your way. Paid admission Fri-Sun only.

    As for 2021...and I know this will come across as blasphemy...we don't race. At least not technically. Each class provides the minimum number of aircraft required (per the rules) for their class to field a "race", however; they perform an "Exhibition" each day, Friday - Sunday as part of the airshow. Overriding reason...$$$$. In general, Reno spends at least 4-5X on insurance to race for seven days, as opposed to what a major, 3-day airshow spends on airshow insurance. This, along with other changes I have in mind, keeps the gates open, offers a chance to rebrand and remarket Reno, and sets the table for the future.

    I doubt (or at least hope) that no one on here or anywhere else feels that if we don't race 7 classes, conduct 65 racing events from Wed noon thru Sunday then we should just shut it down entirely.

    Failure is NOT an option here, folks. Time to get real, make hard choices and face the music. Otherwise, that music will be the organist at the funeral home.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

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