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Reno Air Races - looking for advice

8 June 2016
OK, I know this is Prime and not an aviation forum, but I'm after some semi-local advice (I'm from the UK...Florida would be more local to Reno! ;) ), and I feel like I know you guys as fellow NSX owners.

Anyway, I heard the news that this is the last year at Reno (and possibly the last year full-stop), and the Reno Air Races have been on my bucket-list for some time now, so I'm giving very serious consideration to saying 'fuck it', digging into savings, and booking some flights over. But I'd like to know a bit more before I jump in.

So, has anyone been before? Is anyone going this year?

And can you offer any advice about:-
- whether it's worth going for the full weekend,
- where (towns / distance) to stay,
- whether to get grandstand seats, and
- whether the Pit Passes are worth the extra $150 (& whether I should go for them before grandstand seats?)

...and finally, if I'm flying 11 hours across to SF, what other "must do's / must see's" you guys could recommend for a few day extension either side of the Air Races? Preferably a few hours drive around SF/Reno, to minimise time lost to driving.

(Oh, yeah, that too...where to hire a car from / what's worth hiring without blowing my budget sky-high?)

Thanks all,

Response from a local Renoite

Yes, the Reno Air Races (long a staple of this area) are done for. The area where the races were held used to be sparsely populated but that is no longer the case and the newly moved to the area folks complain about the risks and dangers of such fast, low and close flying.

- It is definitely worth going if huge horse power custom built, vintage and military planes are your thing. Also events like these are sadly getting too expensive (liability-wise) so may not see them again.
- One full day at the races will be plenty though.
- You can stay in Reno or Sparks (sister cities) or any of the neighboring areas. Nothing is more than 20 miles away. Reno and Sparks boast huge amounts of hotel rooms. An AirBNB might be worth looking into.
- I, personally, think that the pit passes aren't worth it, but YMMV.
- If you are going to come all this way, reserve one day to visit Lake Tahoe. One of the most scenic lakes in the US of A.
And absolutely spend time in SFO: Fishermen's wharf, Golden Gate bridge/Park, COIT tower, Lombard street, Embarcadero, Highway 1, 17-mile drive, etc.
- Rental cars are plenty, Reno or SFO -> your pick (all big rental companies operate here)

But before doing any of this, verify if the Air Races are even being held this year.
Thank you...that helps.

Just waiting on a friend to make his mind up, and then I'll start booking stuff.

One final thought - heard about the changes to SF's 'character' and the problems there now, so wondering whether to fly in/out of somewhere else (Vegas is a lot more $$$, LA similar prices but an extra 2 hours away on the road), or whether if we're just using SF as a hub it won't matter?
StIck to SFO - LAX is often torture in comparison, especially as a non-American, with massive queues in un-airconditioned areas. The actual border staff are fine, but the sheer volumes of people going through LAX make it hideous in my experience.
^ that.
Also, I believe the 'character' you are referring to is related to homeless encampments, etc. Personally, I wouldn't let that distract from a great city. Take normal precautions that you would in any large city. I was there a few months ago and had a great time, and will be back next weekend for a concert downtown, along with my teenager. 'Not too worried, of course I won't dart down any dark alleys or uninhabited areas late at night, either.
Parking is an issue in SF, so plan to pay a lot if you are going to drive and park in the city.
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My Mothers cousin was Bill Stead ,he was responsible for bring the air races to Reno . He was a fighter pilot during world war 2 ,then a unlimited hydroplane racer . Stead air port is named after his brother Croston , goggle it very interesting reading . They had a ranch at lake tahoe and he owned a very large cattle ranch , I have never been there but my brothers and sister where there back in the 60's . Bill Stead was the real deal !!!
Thanks Nick / 2K - good advice. SFO it is then, as long as the flights haven't gone up while I've been away.

Ralph - that is a top-notch family tree there sir! Will do some googling later...