"The last year has been a true test to our organization, our fans, both the northern Nevada and aviation communities," said Mike Houghton, president and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association.
"We will truly never forget the incredible display of courage that was shown in a moment of tragedy last year by the first responders, victims and fans," he said.
A tribute for first responders was planned for today, and the victims and family members will be honored during an event on Sunday.
Advance ticket sales for the races have been off, but Houghton said he's heard a number of people are making last-minute plans to attend and he expects swift walk-up sales.
Dr. Anne Coatney, an emergency-room specialist from Seattle who was at the races last year and helped treat the wounded, didn't think twice about returning.
"We are going to be sitting there in our same box seats we've been in now for the last 20 years. It's kind of like a big reunion. I have no apprehension whatsoever," she said.
Coatney was in her seat on the edge of the tarmac about 4:15 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2011, when Leeward's Galloping Ghost surged into the air, then turned over and slammed nose first into the box seats on the edge of the grandstand.
Despite the changes, critics remain dissatisfied with what they call continuing safety deficiencies at the air races. One of the most vocal, Mark Daniels, wants the pilots in the fastest planes to be required to wear anti-gravity suits like they do in the military to keep them from blacking out, as Leeward did.
The former Army helicopter mechanic and air traffic controller also thinks it would be safest to have the grandstand in the infield because the centrifugal force of planes sends them toward the crowd when they lose control.
Daniels has been banned from the grounds and believes it is because of the criticism - something he's suing over in federal court.
Houghton said the ban is based on threats Daniels has made to him and others and has nothing to do with the criticism.
Daniels said he understands why last year's tragedy hasn't dampened many fans' fascination with the only event of its kind in the world.
"They don't think it could happen again - that lightning could strike twice," Daniels said. "And they love air racing. It's the air racing bug. When it bites you, there is no quitting it."