There is indeed an annual air-racing event in Reno in September, where part-time pilots race against each other in a variety of circuits and aboard a range of airplanes. SSI recently acquired the license to this event, and it is now developing an airplane-racing game called Reno Air Racing.
The game takes its cue from the real-life event but expands the concept further with more "tracks" and events. The game's producer describes Reno Air Racing as a true 3D racing game, not a flight simulator, although it will have the requisite real-world physics. Those physics will be scaleable, so you can jump in and start arcade racing if you choose. In addition, you will be able to modify your planes with new engines and parts, which are modeled after the real-world parts used in the real air races.
There are four races covered in the game, each dealing with a different tier of aircraft. There is a biplane class, a formula 1 class (consisting mainly of low-cost enthusiasts planes), the T-6 class (with the unmodified stock plane), and the Unlimited class, where there are no standards for aircraft and all manner of planes from P-51s to experimental aircraft can race. Each class has its own planes, tracks, and seasons (they race at different times of the year in the game). When you play the game, you can choose to graduate to the new classes or continue along your current class and race through all biplane tracks and planes, for example.
There will be five areas to race through: Reno, England, Phoenix, the Alps, and the fantasy track in a South American jungle, complete with lava pits, Mayan ruins, and cavernous tunnels. Within each area, the designers will be building multiple tracks, since the tracks themselves are simply pylons on the ground delineating where where you can fly?. By moving the pylons, the designers can create all new tracks.
The planes you can fly will range from mundane biplanes, to weaponless World War II planes, to experimental craft such as arrow-shaped planes with propellers in the tail instead of the nose. The graphics for the game will be full 3D, with 3D cockpits and will require a 3D accelerator to run. The engine itself is new and is not recycled from SSI's own Flanker games. The developer is Victory Interactive, a company that hopes to finish the game by September 2000, just in time for the Reno air races.