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National Championship Air Races are seeking a new home. Several Mountain West towns are contenders.

Four spectators sit outdoors watching a small gray plane fly overhead with dry mountains in the distance.
Scott Sonner
/
AP
In this Sept. 14, 2012 photo, spectators watch Rob Sandberg of Seattle cross the finish line in his SNJ-4 "Honest Entry'' in the T-6 class prelims at the Reno National Championship Races in Reno, Nev. The air races have long been held in Reno, but not the annual championship is looking for a new home.

The National Championship Air Races are looking for a new home, and several cities in the Mountain West have started a race of their own to host the event.

Every year, pilots compete in high-speed races in a variety of aircraft as part of the championship events. For years, the races have been held in Reno, Nevada, but organizers say it’s not the home it used to be. Increased urban development around the site and at the local airport have made Reno a less desirable location.

Tony Logoteta, chief operating officer for the Reno Air Racing Association, said the event promises to provide a strong economic bump wherever it lands.

“We've done some independent economic impact studies. The last one we did in 2019 came up with a number that was $100 million of total economic impact to this Reno-Sparks region here,” Logoteta said of the current impacts the annual event has had on its host city.

Some of the cities seeking to host the event are Wendover, Utah; Roswell, New Mexico; Pueblo, Colorado; and Casper, Wyoming. But Logoteta said a lot of questions have to be answered about the new potential host cities before a decision is made—and the considerations must take into account more than just the capabilities of their airports.

“Is there a way to get people there? Are there places for people to stay? There's a whole lot of pieces to it,” Logoteta said.

Organizers aren’t revealing much about their evaluation process for a new location, but did confirm that site examinations are underway.

The first races to be held outside of Reno are planned for 2025.

As a general assignment reporter and backup host, I gather news and write stories for broadcast, and I fill in to host for Morning Edition or All Things Considered when the need arises.