No National Air Race Championship For Casper But Town Could Get Other Races

Casper won’t be the new home for National Championship Air Races, but the racing association plans to expand with other racing events, and says Casper is on the short list for one of those.

Renée Jean

May 27, 20244 min read

A scene from the 2017 National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada.
A scene from the 2017 National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. (Getty Images)

Casper may not have won the race to host the National Championship Air Races and Air Show this go-round, but according to a letter sent to Casper Airport Director Glenn Januska, the city can consider itself already on the short list for the group’s future expansion plans.

In the letter, Reno Air Racing Association CEO and President Fred Telling suggested that future air racing events won’t be confined solely to Roswell, New Mexico, which was selected last week as the new home for the National Championship Air Races.

“It is entirely possible we could build on the many strengths Casper has to offer and create a unique air racing event as part of our expansion plans in the not-too-distant future,” Telling wrote. “We hope to find ways to collaborate in the future and wish you all the best in your continued efforts to promote the wonderful city of Casper.”

Among strengths Telling listed for Casper are its “excellent community support and excellent condition” of Casper’s historic airport, which was once a World War II air base.

Telling wrote that the committee that selected the new home for its Air Races was also “particularly impressed” with the “scenic beauty of the region, which would have provided a stunning backdrop for the races.”

“We greatly value the effort and resources that you and your team invested in this application process,” Telling wrote. “Your dedication to promoting Casper as a vibrant and capable host city was evident throughout our interactions.”

Casper Challenges

The letter also provided more insight into why Casper wasn’t chosen for the flagship national championships.

The primary factors Telling listed were emergency service issues, racecourse concerns, off-field landing areas, accessibility and accommodation capacity.

“Recognizing you were able to mitigate the vast majority of the issues, the tipping point was largely the matter of access and accommodations,” he wrote in his letter. “Ultimately, Roswell had more communities in the region to support the race event.”

Telling also said despite that, Casper had made a good case for being the new home of the Air Races.

“Your application and ongoing diligent efforts all highlighted many positive attributes of your city, airport and capabilities to host an event such as NCAR,” Telling wrote. “Thank you once again for your understanding, hospitality, and the warm reception we experienced during our evaluation visit.”

Booted From Reno

Casper was one of three communities short-listed to host the National Championship Air Races after the Reno Stead Airport announced it would evict the event in early 2023.

While Reno Stead Airport officials blamed growth in the region and a forthcoming airport expansion as factors that made the site no longer compatible with the Air Races, the association that puts on the event had faced significant financial issues after being forced to cancel in 2020.

There were also several highly publicized crashes over the years, which had raised safety concerns with the Reno Air Raes, which are one of the last remaining air motorsports events.

Among these crashes was the 2022 wreck of a Czech jet that killed its pilot, and the crash of a World War II-era modified P-51 Mustang fighter, the Galloping Ghost, which veered into a crowded grandstand at 400 mph.

That killed three people instantly, including pilot Jimmy Leeward, and hurt at least 50 others, some with life-threatening injuries. Seven more died in the days following the crash.

The wreck prompted several recommendations from NTSB, among them moving the race course further from spectator stands and more rigorous pre-race inspections.

Pilots flying in the air races have to attend a flight school for the event a few months prior, to help ensure all competitors have the required skills for the event. There are also practices and preliminary qualifiers aimed at further ensuring safety during the event.

Renée Jean can be reached at

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter