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National air show considering Wendover as future site, money needed for repairs

Dec 5, 2023, 6:06 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2023, 6:37 am

WENDOVER — For a place known for its past, Jim Petersen is excited for what may be Wendover’s future.

“This would really be a big deal. It is huge,” he said.

Petersen runs the Historic Wendover Airfield, where the crew of the Enola Gay trained during World War II that would drop the first atomic bomb on Japan.

Funding to maintain the place, though, has always been tough.

“There are a number of buildings on the base that admittedly some of them need some work,” said Petersen.

Funding on its way

However, a lot more money could soon be coming.

“It is something that Tooele County is willing to do and it is something that the State is on board with, too,” said Petersen.

Wendover, Utah, is one of six towns being considered as the new home for the National Championship Air Races.

It is essentially the Super Bowl of the sport.

“Of all the six sites that have proposed something, Wendover probably has the best facilities for actually building a racecourse,” said Petersen.

Wendover, Utah, is one of six towns being considered as the new home for the National Championship Air Races. (KSL TV)

It is a circular racecourse in the sky.

The short course runs about 3 miles while the long course goes for about 8 miles.

“We have a lot of room out here,” said Tanner Moore, manager of the Wendover Airport.

He and Petersen were part of a welcoming committee last week to host the event organizers who are deciding on a new home for the race.

Event moving from Reno

The air races have been based in Reno since 1964 but must move after the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority canceled its contract due to rising insurance costs after some crashes and development near the airport.

“They are happy with the size of our airport and our air space,” said Moore. “Reno is just growing too much and there is not going to be a whole lot of growing out here, so I think it’s mostly facilities is their concern for a Wendover location.”

Having enough hotel rooms is one concern about Wendover being chosen.

The National Championship Air Races is an annual week-long event that brings in about 100,000 people and millions of dollars.

“It means we would be really busy. But we could do this,” said Petersen while looking at a map of preliminary plans. “We would set aside a spot for a lot of cars to park there.”

Funding will go a long way

That extra money will not only help with restoration but also awareness of a site crucial to American history.

“Wendover is the one site of all six that really has that historical significance to it,” said Petersen.

The five other towns being considered are Thermal, California; Buckeye, Arizona; Roswell, New Mexico; Pueblo, Colorado, and Casper, Wyoming.

The committee making the decision is expected to have an answer in the next few months.

The races would begin again in 2025.

KSL 5 TV Live

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National air show considering Wendover as future site, money needed for repairs