The Jet Class was inaugurated in 2002 as an invitation-only class, featuring match racing with Czech-built Aero Vodochody L-39 "Albatros" jets, racing at speeds in the 500+ mph range. In 2004, sponsorship and interest had developed to the point where the Class was opened to participation by any qualified pilot and aircraft.
In 2007, the Class was further expanded to allow participation by any non-after-burning jet with less than 15° of wing sweep - aircraft like the Fouga Magister, North American T-2 Buckeye, Lockheed T-33, etc.
Jet Class aircraft generally take off about ten to fifteen minutes before the race start, and follow the Pace Jet, which flies in a sweeping left turn towards Peavine, the large mountain south of Reno Stead Field. Over Peavine heading roughly eastbound, the aircraft assemble in a line-abreast formation to the right of the Pace Jet, as it makes its final left turn northward towards "the chute", an imaginary path onto the Race Course. After the final turn, the formation begins to descend as the Pace Pilot advises the racers to adjust their positions to maintain a straight line abreast.
Once the Pace Pilot is comfortable that the formation is in a good position to start, he makes the call, "Gentlemen, you have a race!" and pulls the pace aircraft into a climbing left turn, separating from the formation. For the remainder of the race, the pace aircraft circles well above the racers unless needed to assist if trouble arises.
As the racing aircraft continue down the chute, they keep the Start Pylon [located between Pylons 3 and 4] to their left, and the east deadline to their right. Reaching the Start Pylon, the aircraft turn left onto the Race Course heading northwest. They continue to fly the course in a counter-clockwise direction, always making left turns around the pylons, keeping to the outside lest they be penalized for a pylon cut, and remaining above the height of the pylons lest they be penalized for low flying.
Having made the number of laps required to complete the race, at the finish line which runs from the Home Pylon due south towards the grandstands, the aircraft generally zoom climb, trading off airspeed for altitude and putting them into a comfortable position to set up for landing.
A typical Jet Class race typically takes from six to eight minutes depending on the number of laps in the race and the speed of the aircraft.