Pylon air races, in which airplanes race simultaneously around a closed ovoid course marked off by pylons, were first seen in the US in October 1924 with the start of the National Air Races, which were held in Cleveland (Ohio) and Los Angeles (California).

In 1964, Bill Stead organized an air race near Reno, Nevada, and the Reno National Championship Air Races were born. The course at the National Championship Air Races is in fact several courses overlaid on the same piece of ground.

The various courses are roughly oval-shaped with seven to ten course pylons, plus additional guide pylons. All of the courses share a southern stretch that runs along the north side of Stead Field’s east-west runway, directly in front of the pits and the grandstands.

The event has only been interrupted once, in September 2001 when all aircraft in the United States were grounded following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

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