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Thread: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

  1. #1
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    Default WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    After some noodling over a variety of concepts for taking a fresh look at how Race Week is structured I found it wasn't particularly easy to juggle all the dynamics, preserve the history, yet chart a course for the future. What follows are my thoughts on a revamping of Race Week operations.

    Full disclosure, some of you may recognize certain aspects that you mentioned in the first "What If..." thread that I found worthy of consideration and inclusion. Many thanks for your input folks and your willingness to allow me to use them here.

    I fully realize these things may well strike a nerve here and there but it seems to me we can't maintain BAU and expect better results. You can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs. Not my favorite idiom but it does capture the essence of things.

    Again, just one man's opinion. And we all know what they saying about opinions...

    So...here goes:

    ESTABLISH MINIMUM QUAL SPEEDS/MAXIMUM ENTRIES PER CLASS
    Bip: 160mph/15 slots
    F1: 180mph/15 slots
    T6: 190mph/15 slots
    Sport: 260mph/24 slots
    Jet: 380mph/12 entries
    UNL: 325mph/15 slots (consider turbines &/or T-28’s)
    Yes, this means you meet the minimum speed or your go home and come back next year and yes, I understand the potential for putting off some folks who may not wish to come back. That said...you know...I don't need to be the fastest person being chased by the bear...just faster than the slowest person.
    *******************************************
    SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
    Wednesday: Qualification All Classes (9hrs/0800-1700); Airshow Arrivals (1600-1800)
    Thursday: Last Chance Quals/Bumping/Testing (3.5hrs/0800-1130); Two Heat Races/Class (6.5hrs/1130-1700) Airshow Arrivals (1700-1800)
    Friday: Bronze Championship Races-All Classes (3.0hrs/0900-1200); Airshow Rehearsal (1230-1530)
    Saturday: Silver Championship Races-All Classes (3.0hrs/0900-1200); Airshow Performances (1230-1530)
    Sunday: Gold Championship Races-All Classes (3.0hrs/0900-1200); Airshow Performances (1230-1530)
    No Progression for winners of Bronze or Silver. If you qualify there, you race there. Period. No Bumping.
    ********************************************
    WEDNESDAY: Qualification of all classes. Per 2019 Practice and Quals times this condenses quals into one single day, plus a Last Chance Qualification session on Thursday This eliminates two full day of flight operations.

    THURSDAY: Last Chance qualifying for re-quals, bumping and possible WX cancellations (3.5hrs); Each class to run two (2) heat races for a total of 390 minutes (6.5hrs). Airshow arrivals slotted thru the day and after heat racing until 1800hrs. First day paid admission.

    FRIDAY: Run Bronze Championship races for all six Classes: (3.0hrs/0900-1200); Concession Break (0.5hrs/1200-1230); Airshow Rehearsal (3.0hrs/1230-1530)

    SATURDAY: Run Silver Championship races for all six Classes: (3.0hrs/0900-1200); Concession Break (0.5hrs/1200-1230); Airshow Performances (3.0hrs/123-1530)

    SUNDAY: Run Gold Championship races for all six Classes: (3.0hrs/0900-1200); Concession Break (0.5hrs/1200-1230); Airshow Performances (3.0hrs/1230-1530)
    ********************************************
    A. Concession Break is designed to allow a specific opportunity to engage our concessionaires, drive their business, allow guests to use facilities without missing racing or airshow activities.

    B. STOL Drag races as per usual during rejoins for Sport and Jets (approx. 12-15min each).

    C. Waiver in effect 0900 - 1530 Friday – Sunday. Options for Friday and/or Saturday after-hours events may include in-kind Reno Aces discount tickets; Friday Night Airshow; works Show; Night Drone Show; Twilight “After-Burner” Jet Demo; Live Music/Pit Party; Larger Stihl Demo (yes, these may come at a cost...as an investment.)

    D. An added benefit would be that this concept would all but eliminate the conflict between our operations and BLM Stead Air Attack Base Monday thru Wednesday operations.

    E. Airshow operations run after all racing operations Friday – Sunday. This would help gauge interest between racing and airshow components but more importantly this will keep all performance times consistent throughout the weekend.

    H. Regarding admission and ticketing, one concept would bifurcate ticketing between “Race Pass” and “Airshow Pass”.” Consider, folks can purchase a 2, 3, or 4-day Race Pass that allow essentially the same access folks now enjoy with a Pit Pass, including statics, concessions, etc. with designated seating areas (Box and Reserved, some GA). Airshow Pass ticket holders (Friday -Sunday, or Saturday/Sunday only) have access to eastern Reserved and GA stands, statics, concessions, etc. but must purchase a separate Pit Pass to gain access to the ramp west of the Checkered Flag Club. Performers (performers, jet teams, ACC, etc.) will park at the eastern end of the ramp in front of the crowd that has paid to watch them. Smaller class sizes increase ramp space; compressed timelines for racing permit all performers to stage at KRTS; sightlines for Race Pass holders not restricted by performers (a common complaint for Box Seat holders); Airshow Pass holders incentivized to purchase more expensive Race Pass (upgrades available daily, based on seating).

    Well, there you go. Is it perfect? Likely not so much and I'd be the first to say so. But it does take two full days off the schedule, shortens each days operations, places an emphasis on qualifying, provides consistency in airshow operations, eliminates conflicts with BLM Op's (a huge factor M-W for us in Race Control), and a few other things that may bolster the event overall.

    I've not thought of everything and God knows, while I've tried to see things through the eyes of participants, I am not a participant and therefore not likely to have considered certain aspects that would have a detrimental impact on those who race. I look to those of you here to shoot some holes in this.

    I've doned the flack-jacket, steel pot, and have hunkered-down in my foxhole. INCOMING!
    Last edited by Air Boss; 01-31-2021 at 11:04 AM.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  2. #2
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    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    Interesting set of ideas, Owen. Probably disappointing to people like us who knew Reno in the 80s and 90s, but less so to those who remember the 70s when it was REALLY hard to get anywhere near full fields in any class and racing was Fri to Sunday.

    I do wonder whether you could really qualify 100 airplanes in six classes in one day. From a racer's point of view, one day of qualifying does not allow for any testing, experimentation, or real practice before your actual qualifying run. Many people have told me over the years that Reno cannot be simulated accurately anywhere else -- there are always surprises and things to be worked out that can only be done on the Reno race course.

    You'd have to have something in place to deal with weather issues. If it rains, or snows, or blows 50 mph on Wednesday (and I've seen all the above in Reno in September -- sometimes all on the same day) how do you deal with Thursday? With only 3.5 hours of course time available on Thursday it seems like real potential for problems.

    I also have doubts about some of the proposed minimum speeds. A 325mph minimum would have made it impossible for Tom Camp's Wildcat to participate, for instance, and Tom's airplane was a real crowd pleaser.

    It'll be interesting to see if this plan gets any traction. Thanks for all the effort, Owen. I'm awfully glad somebody on the operations side of things is thinking about how to save this event


    Neal

  3. #3

    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    I have issues with planes parking in from of the stands during the races. It blocks the views of the racers while on the ground, leaving the runways, ect. I have walking issues and the first row, along with a few other of teh old-timers sitting there or so is all I can manage in the GA bleachers. 2018 when the two STOL racers were parked there, The wings and tails block quite a bit of the runway.

    in 2019, the peaks of the tarps set-up over the area for the veterans blocked the view of the planes flying in from the left until they were were about 1/2 way past the grandstands from section 1 of the GA bleachers. I had box seats, but couldn't see from all the people standing in the boxes in front so I moved to the GA bleachers. Finally, several people pickup the tarp and moved it back as hardly anyone was sitting under it anyway. Never quite understood a tarp or umbrella in front at an airshow type event as they block a lot of the action.

    ON Monday and Tuesday I didn't understand why the bleachers were roped off. I was told -2- different stories. 1. They were not inspected yet by the guard that chased me off. I called the RARA office to see when they were to be inspected. The person that answered the phone said that they were. I was there day light hours Monday and Tuesday and saw no-one there to inspect them, 2: Someone setting up a booth said that maybe they were roped off to keep "Section 3" from setting up early. I don't quite under stand that one.

    No-one chased me out of the box seating area/grandstand so I sat there after my legs gave out Monday/Tuesday. It beat sitting on the hot pavement.

    Still don't know the status of my tickets from last year but I will purchase new ones for this year anyway. And yes, I did partake in the fundraiser too. I wish they would go back to allowing pre-purchase of handicap "seasonal"parking passes


    Stay safe/Stay healthy
    Go fast / Turn Left

    Kenn from Section 1 of the GA Bleachers.
    Last edited by kennsmithf2g; 01-31-2021 at 02:35 PM.
    May all your bent wings be F2G Corsairs!

  4. #4

    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    I have a question about the number of slots.
    Why did you go with 15 and 12 as opposed to 16 (two full heats of 8)?

    If a class has less than the max allowable slots and they have a qualifier that is slower than required, would that plane be allowed in? I would assume yes, but then assuming has gotten me in trouble before.
    "young" Thomas

  5. #5
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    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    Quote Originally Posted by CubersWrist View Post
    I have a question about the number of slots.
    Why did you go with 15 and 12 as opposed to 16 (two full heats of 8)?

    If a class has less than the max allowable slots and they have a qualifier that is slower than required, would that plane be allowed in? I would assume yes, but then assuming has gotten me in trouble before.
    I used a somewhat simplistic approach. I used 2019 qual numbers at the speeds indicated...more or less. And yes, if the field wasn't full the fastest "non-qualifier" would be entered.

    Just as we know what they say about opinions, the same concept is true about assumptions!
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  6. #6
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    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    Interesting set of ideas, Owen. Probably disappointing to people like us who knew Reno in the 80s and 90s, but less so to those who remember the 70s when it was REALLY hard to get anywhere near full fields in any class and racing was Fri to Sunday.

    I do wonder whether you could really qualify 100 airplanes in six classes in one day. From a racer's point of view, one day of qualifying does not allow for any testing, experimentation, or real practice before your actual qualifying run. Many people have told me over the years that Reno cannot be simulated accurately anywhere else -- there are always surprises and things to be worked out that can only be done on the Reno race course.

    You'd have to have something in place to deal with weather issues. If it rains, or snows, or blows 50 mph on Wednesday (and I've seen all the above in Reno in September -- sometimes all on the same day) how do you deal with Thursday? With only 3.5 hours of course time available on Thursday it seems like real potential for problems.

    I also have doubts about some of the proposed minimum speeds. A 325mph minimum would have made it impossible for Tom Camp's Wildcat to participate, for instance, and Tom's airplane was a real crowd pleaser.

    It'll be interesting to see if this plan gets any traction. Thanks for all the effort, Owen. I'm awfully glad somebody on the operations side of things is thinking about how to save this event


    Neal
    Thanks for the feedback, Neal. Much appreciated.

    For WX issues on Wednesday (and yes...been huddled around a pylon when it was snowing, raining, windy, et al) we'd have a couple options. In a fashion similar to other motorsports, you'd use qual times from previous year. If a new qualifier is involved, they'd be slotted into the slower field. Perhaps Thursday could be all quals. Here's how 2019 broke down RE: Qual times per class:
    TOTAL TIME PER QUALIFICATION SESSION BY CLASS
    • 70min qual session for F1
    • 60min qual session for Bips
    • 55min qual session for T-6 (split into 2 sessions)
    • 145min qual session for Sport (split into 2 sessions)
    • 75min qual session for Jets (split into 2 sessions)
    • 55min qual session for UNL (split into 2 sessions)
    • 20min practice session for STOL Drag
    TOTAL TIME: 480min (8hrs); One (1) hour buffer built in

    Start times pushed back to 0800 and extended to 1730 each day is also possible (as we do now). We would active the TFR's and Waiver times in real time as needed but on paper they'd run from 0800 to 1730 each day to ensure a buffer.

    Speeds are an estimate but mainly based on 2019 results.

    No question this would put pressure on teams and RARA to get it all in. Pushing back to a Tues-Sun approach is also a possibility, removing one day instead of two. I took a harder approach out of the gate.

    Thanks again Neal. Good points all around.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    Quote Originally Posted by kennsmithf2g View Post
    I have issues with planes parking in from of the stands during the races. It blocks the views of the racers while on the ground, leaving the runways, ect. I have walking issues and the first row, along with a few other of teh old-timers sitting there or so is all I can manage in the GA bleachers. 2018 when the two STOL racers were parked there, The wings and tails block quite a bit of the runway.

    in 2019, the peaks of the tarps set-up over the area for the veterans blocked the view of the planes flying in from the left until they were were about 1/2 way past the grandstands from section 1 of the GA bleachers. I had box seats, but couldn't see from all the people standing in the boxes in front so I moved to the GA bleachers. Finally, several people pickup the tarp and moved it back as hardly anyone was sitting under it anyway. Never quite understood a tarp or umbrella in front at an airshow type event as they block a lot of the action.

    ON Monday and Tuesday I didn't understand why the bleachers were roped off. I was told -2- different stories. 1. They were not inspected yet by the guard that chased me off. I called the RARA office to see when they were to be inspected. The person that answered the phone said that they were. I was there day light hours Monday and Tuesday and saw no-one there to inspect them, 2: Someone setting up a booth said that maybe they were roped off to keep "Section 3" from setting up early. I don't quite under stand that one.

    No-one chased me out of the box seating area/grandstand so I sat there after my legs gave out Monday/Tuesday. It beat sitting on the hot pavement.

    Still don't know the status of my tickets from last year but I will purchase new ones for this year anyway. And yes, I did partake in the fundraiser too. I wish they would go back to allowing pre-purchase of handicap "seasonal"parking passes


    Stay safe/Stay healthy
    Go fast / Turn Left

    Kenn from Section 1 of the GA Bleachers.
    Sightlines are an issue Kenn, no question. It would take some creative logisitics but I believe we can get that worked out. But that's true in almost every sporting event where guests are seated in the lower sections of the stands or floor/ground. It's an unfortunate reality I suppose. Know that's not an answer but as I said it's possible some steps can be taken.

    As for the pre-purchase issue, I'd be happy to pass that along. Seems logical. When did they stop offering that, and why (if you know)?

    No idea about the grandstand being roped off so can't really offer much there.

    Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts. It's greatly appreciated.
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  8. #8
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    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    Owen,

    Looks pretty damn good to me. Great twist on the side-by-side conversation by making the races and the airshow side-by-side in time as well as physical space. Adding time eliminated the whole "who gets show center" conversation. Well done.

    Timing reads well as does the logic of experience for both those putting the show on as well as those attending. We spent a lot of time looking at things from the fan perspective and some from the racer but not much from the staff. Making the week easier to manage has many benefits, not the least of which is cost.

    Still digesting the admission/ticket piece so I reserve the right to revisit but I cannot imagine it would be anything more than just some in-the-weeds details.

    Only real question I have is around there not being a way for a high-level contender (i.e. - normally a Gold airframe) to recover from a early week challenge. Let's use Sport as an example. Speaking realistically, the team, fans, and, importantly, Stihl, would hate to see Andrew have an issue Wednesday/Thursday that limited his speed, get it sorted out, crush the field on Friday, and then go home. I'm sure you have strong logic to support the proposed structure, not the least of which are it allows more total airframes to participate as well as you need to have your stuff together when you take to the air on Wednesday, but it FEELS like there may need to be some type of relief valve akin to the old provisional starting spots in NASCAR that made sure Richard Petty always had the chance to end up in victory lane. May need to address or may not - I just know if I were the CEO of a Stihl-equivalent sponsor or the owner of a One Moment-equivalent aircraft, I'd be asking the question. For an old-school example, substitute a fan-favorite Unlimited. Would it be a step too far from the fans' perspective to send a Strega home on Friday?

    No slings or arrows from me.

    James

  9. #9

    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    Jeff Lavelle DNF heat 1 and DNF heat 2. So on Saturday he should technically have been bumped down. But the class discussed and decided it was better to leave him in the gold. So the classes will be able to sort those kinds of things out on their own.
    "young" Thomas

  10. #10
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    Default Re: WHAT IF...PART 2: RETHINKING RACE WEEK - A PROPOSAL

    This is a very drastic change from what Reno is about and if cost savings are the intent I think there are plenty of other ways to satisfy that without changing the entire event. I hate to say it, but it really doesn’t sound exciting and a lot of the magic of Reno is lost. Thanks for the thoughts anyway...
    *My Air Race Site*

    Reno from '99 to '19

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