What is the most important thing I need to know to fly the Air Race Classic?

It isn’t so much what you know, it is your willingness to learn more about being a safe, capable pilot that will maximize your Race experience. As long as you have a current FAA medical and recent BFR, you have the basic knowledge to become a racer.

The Air Race Classic Rules and Regulations spell out airplane and team requirements and responsibilities, required Race procedures, Race emergency management, timing and awards. While we don’t recommend memorizing the ARC Rules and Regulations, it is a great idea to read them carefully, several times, so you understand them.

If you enter the Race, you will be sent a user name and password to enter the "racer only" section of the website, where you can explore to gather additional information and check back for periodic up-dates.

Pre-race safety briefings held at the Start go a long way toward answering any other questions you may have. Attendance at these briefings is required, and covers such things as fuel planning, weather, flybys, emergencies and more.

Does it matter what kind of airplane I fly?

Yes, and no. Air Race Classic Rules spell out what airplanes are eligible to compete: “Airplanes are limited to STOCK and minimally modified STOCK airplanes, certified in the normal or utility category with normally aspirated engine(s) of not less than 145 horsepower, nor more than 570 horsepower, rated for CONTINUOUS MAXIMUM OPERATION”.
It is important that your airplane can fly a complete leg without needing to stop for fuel, taking into consideration that racing uses considerably more fuel than ordinary cross-country flights. More than anything, you should be well acquainted with, and comfortable flying, your Race plane. For more information, contact airplane@airraceclassic.org

Do I have to own the plane I race?

No. You may rent or borrow. It is up to you. The Air Race Classic has been won (more than once) by a team flying a rental airplane. The key is to have your airplane ready to perform at its peak, and that you know how to maximize its performance. We highly recommend that the owner know how the airplane will be used.

I don’t have very many flight hours. Should I wait until I have more hours to consider racing?

Waiting is up to you, of course, but if you have a private pilot license, you are qualified to be part of a Race team. Cross-country racing is a great way to build your experience. For safety reasons, Air Race Classic requires that one member of each team have either an instrument rating or 500 hours as pilot in command.
Our Mother Bird program helps you too. We match first-time Race teams with experienced teams who have volunteered to guide new teams through their first Race.

Is racing expensive?

It isn’t cheap, but neither was getting that pilot’s license in the first place, right? Sharing the Race experience with a number of other female pilots is priceless. Talk with a pilot who has flown the Air Race Classic, and you will hear why it is one of the most exhilarating learning experiences a pilot can have. Mother Birds can be really helpful with calculating Race expenses.
Here is a hit list of the areas that will require money: airplane and team preparation; Race Registration; Start Registration; Terminus Registration; transportation to the Start; four days of Race expenses; transportation home from the Race. Let’s take each one separately.


Airplane and Team preparation: How much money this costs will vary with each team and airplane. Read the Rules, carefully fill out the Airplane Entry Form, and outfit your team and airplane. Ideally, you want to fly with your Race partner enough to have a good working relationship. As partners you will want to decide how to split the costs. The initial pre-race costs are for your application fees, your Start and Terminus registration fees, and any Start and Terminus event charges that you wish to sign up for. For a team of two, these will run about $850. Some of the other items needing attention are: ordering charts, making Start, enroute, and Terminus motel reservations, estimating fuel costs, having your airplane annual done, arranging for a fresh oil change, making sure all log books are in order, and detailing your airplane with a fresh wash and wax. Understanding the rules and carefully preparing will mean your airplane and your team will pass Start Inspection, Handicapping, and Registration with flying colors.
One more thing about team preparation – there is a long tradition of teams wearing matching outfits, from Start through the Terminus Banquet. It is not a requirement, but it’s a wonderful way to spot your partner across a crowded room. This is an area where Mother Birds can help.


Race Registration: The Race Registration Kit, which costs $30, includes the paperwork for your race application. The $425 you send in with the Race application goes toward Air Race Classic operation costs and Race Awards.


Start Registration: Start events are sponsored, planned and carried out by volunteers at the Start city. Teams are required to attend some, but not all, of the events planned. Required events are a welcome reception, the safety briefing, a Start Banquet and Start Breakfast. You will be required to send money to the Start to pay for the required events, for any optional events you have scheduled and for (optional) shirts, caps or other commemorative items you ordered. The registration fee typically is about $200.
You must make hotel reservations for your team in the Start city. This cost is not included in the Start Registration. Both the Start and Terminus cities do their best to negotiate a reduced rate at the hotel of choice. The hotel will have enough rooms for all teams and provides space for additional Race events.

Terminus Registration: Like the Start, the Terminus has volunteers who plan events for Race teams and handle money for required and optional costs. Required events usually include a welcome reception, a breakfast or luncheon and the Awards Banquet. Again, the registration fee typically is about $200. Also, as at the Start, you will make hotel reservations for your team at the Terminus. These reservations are not included with the Terminus Registration.

Transportation to and from the Race: This cost will vary for each, depending on where each team member lives, where the Start and Terminus cities are, whether you come in the same airplane and so on. Racers should budget for normal airplane costs (rental, fuel, etc,) and for the time you need to fly your airplane from your base to the Start and from the Terminus back home.

Four days of Race Expenses: Four days are set aside for the Race. You may finish the Race in fewer days. Nevertheless, you should plan for feeding you and your airplane, plus your motel costs, for all time between Start and Terminus.

Are all racers part of a team?

Yes. It takes two pilots to be an Air Race Classic team. There are LOTS of things to do before, during and after the Race, and two people make it easier, safer, and much more fun. You can even bring along a passenger – a woman with a student pilot license or higher – to further split up the work and add to the fun.

Does the pilot do all the flying?

In the “old days,” that might have been true. These days, it is common for team members to alternate flying legs during the Race. In fact, current Race teams trade and share other duties, such as researching weather, monitoring leg timing and cleaning bugs off leading edges. Doing so maximizes the learning experience for everyone.

How do we decide who is pilot and who is copilot?

Sometimes, the woman who owns the plane is the pilot. Sometimes, the woman with the most experience is the pilot. More important than what you call yourselves is being able to agree on the division of duties and having a good working relationship.

Does that really work – trading duties?

Yes, as long as you communicate regularly, and often. Just as airplane checklists are a must, racing checklists are good practice. Checking and double-checking who is doing what, out loud, will keep you out of trouble.

Will my Race fuel consumption be different than during normal cross-country flights? How much different?

This is an “it depends” answer. The competitive spirit emerges in a big way when the starting flag drops.
Airplanes flying the Air Race Classic must be rated for continuous maximum power – for a reason. Winning depends on maximum power. Maximum power gobbles fuel. The altitude and temperature have some impact on how much. Practicing this kind of flying is a good idea. To be safe, expect your airplane to use as much as 50% more fuel while racing. This is another area where your Mother Bird can offer advice.

Will fuel be available at every Stop?

OH Yes! Absolutely. Sometimes, a fuel discount will be available to racers.

With four days set aside for the Race, how many legs should I plan to fly each day?

It depends! Things can happen – that is one reason this Race is such a great learning experience. Mechanical problems can surprise the most meticulously prepared airplane (and racers). Pilot fatigue can surprise you and should not be ignored. The speed of your airplane is another factor. BUT, Mother Nature (the weather) holds the trump card for all flight planning.
Some years the wind and weather favor flying three or even four legs in one day, as long as both you and the airplane can be at a Stop at official sundown. Other years, it makes sense to hang back and complete the Race on the final day just before the deadline. It takes strategy, planning and adjusting to conditions as they develop.

What about motel reservations for the nights of the Race?

There will be a list of recommended hotels for each Stop available on the ARC website. Some racers make reservations at each stop as soon as they receive this information. . Although motels can be flexible and considerate regarding cancellations, racers will benefit from having a reminder system. The more you do beforehand, the more you can concentrate on flying safely and well.

How can I keep track of all these details?

One way we recommend is to put together your personal team Race notebook, with sections for each category of information, such as: Registrations/Reservations, Schedules, Flight Plan, eFlybys, Timing, Financial Record, Rules and so on.
One person might be responsible for the content and keeping it up to date, or the duty could be shared. It doesn’t matter, as long as you agree and someone knows where the notebook is at all times.

I don’t know any other women pilots. What do I do if I want to race?

Send a message to info@airraceclassic.org. ARC may be able to suggest ways to locate a partner. Although there is no "matchmaking" done, there are lists of pilots and copilots seeking a partner with associated contact information that can be shared. Or, call your local 99s chapter about potential partners.

Is there someone I can talk to about racing?

Yes. To begin with, read everything on this website. Second, you can send a question to info@airraceclassic.org.
Third, if you and another first-time racer submit an application to race, you will be assigned a Mother Bird – an experienced team who will mentor you through the preparation and Race. You will become their Baby Birds, with an invitation to ask any question.

I don't see my question, whom do I ask?

We did our best to include the most common questions in this list. If you still have questions, please email info@airraceclassic.org. We'll get back to you as soon as possible. Please remember that everyone supporting the Air Race Classic is a volunteer; it may take a few days to get a response. If we see questions often enough, we'll add them to the list!


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