Meet Tony Logoteta – husband, father of four, and COO / board member of the Reno Air Racing Association, which brings us the STIHL National Championship Air Races each year (this year it’s Sept 11-15th). We asked Tony about what this long-time staple of Reno has to offer this year.
How would you describe the Air Races for somebody that’s never heard of them?
It’s a national treasure, a one-of-a-kind event in the world. That’s why for 56 years people have been coming from all over the world to see it and to be a part of it. It’s not just another event, there is literally no other place in the world where you can go and watch six classes of aircraft ranging from small bi-planes to WWII-era warbirds racing head-to-head around a closed pylon course at speeds that reach as high as 525 miles per hour.
It’s the world’s fastest motorsport and it’s an incredible spectacle, one that puts Reno on the map internationally. That doesn’t even mention the fact that we include a fully complementing air show featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F16 demonstration team this year. It’s all brilliantly weaved into one amazing event.
That sounds exciting. What does the event offer for our kids when they inevitably get distracted and hungry?
I think you’ll find that there’s an awful lot to keep kids interested. I’m always tremendously busy during race week, but my wife brings our four kids out on Sunday every year and they love it. There are not too many places where you can walk right up to a race pit and talk to the owner, pilot, and crew then get your picture taken with them in front of a P51 Mustang or home-built Lancair that just ripped around the course at over 400 mph, then look up into the air and see an aerobatic performer dicing up the sky with incredible precision.
To your point though, we also have a wide array of food and beverage concessions, merchandise vendors and exhibitors. We even have a huge military exhibit which even allows the kids to walk inside of military aircraft like a C-130 Hercules or a C-17 Globemaster, and they can see a bit of history in our aviation heritage display.
We are also home to one of the largest STEM education zones in the country, where GRADD and NVBAA do a great job introducing kids to some different aspects of aviation through things like flight simulators, 3D printers and drone workshops. There’s a ton to do with the kiddos.
Why such a big push for an education area at the event?
The STIHL National Championship Air Races is produced by the Reno Air Racing Association, which is a non-profit. Part of our mission is to inspire future generations to get involved and consider the aviation industry and all the wonderful opportunities it presents. The experience of our race pilots is very diverse, from private general aviation pilots, to crop-dusters, to commercial airline pilots, to battle tested military pilots and astronauts, this is an amazing community with so much to teach our kids and we hope to see youth excited about aviation.
How will you be kicking off the event?
We are incredibly thankful to the Stead community we call home and honored that the City of Reno and Councilmember Bonnie Weber are hosting the inaugural Reno Air Races Takeoff Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Reno-Stead Airport. There will be the Biggest Little Parade, a flyover featuring multiple race planes, Race Plane Show ‘n’ Shine and various vendors. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great kickoff to race week.
Sounds like there’s a lot to do. How expensive is admission for families?
Well, Wednesday is Nevada day and all Nevada residents get in for only $5. Besides that, show center reserved seats are actually the same price as general admission this year and those range from $15 ($5 junior) Wednesday to $45 ($25 junior) Saturday and Sunday if you buy online now.
Junior tickets include children ages six to 12, under six are free, and we also offer senior and military discounts. We have a ton of other options for all preferences and budgets, from general admission and pit passes to all-inclusive hospitality tickets. You can see them all at airrace.org.
What about parking for families with strollers or toddlers?
We have a few different reserved lots that you can pay to park close to the main gate, as well as a handicapped parking lot which includes shuttle transport into the event, or there are Amador buses that run from several of the area’s hotel resorts and get you right up close to the ticket booths. The RTC is also extending their bus route to get people up to the outer walk in gate, and if you don’t mind a little longer walk there is also 3rd party parking on Echo and Mt. Vida St.