Great Texas Balloon Race Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Great Texas Balloon Race
Tethered balloons are illuminated, setting off a spectacular display of light.

According to the official website, the Great Texas Balloon Race in Longview, Texas was “born in 1978 from an agreement between Dr. Bill Bussey, a world-record hot air balloon pilot, and Frankie Parson Riggins and Mary LeTourneau, Longview Mall managers. To advertise the mall’s opening, Bussey draped a Longview Mall banner on his hot air balloon and flew over the city of Longview.

Two years later, Bill Stoudt and Stroh’s joined forces with the Longview Mall and the first-ever Balloon Glow was held on the mall’s south parking lot. Along with other pilots, Dr. Bussey created an evening attraction designed to delight the crowds. Tethered balloons were illuminated, setting off a spectacular display of light. This first-ever event became an instant success. Although various modifications have been made at balloon races all around the world, this crowd-pleasing event originated in Longview!”

In 1985, due to ever-increasing attendance, the launch site was moved to the Stroh Brewery complex. The race was not held in 1987, 1988, or 1989, but when it returned in 1990, the race was moved to the East Texas Regional Airport, just south of Longview. The airport is still the home of the race today.

The most exciting race is known by pilots as the Controlled Navigational Trajectory Event. It’s better known to us locals as the Ring Toss. Each pilot has only one chance in each race to “steer” his/her balloon toward a 12-inch ring atop a 20-foot pole. The Ring Toss is still one of the most popular tasks in the race and has evolved into one of the most competitive.

Please feel free to e-mail us or call us at 903-530-2488 if you have any questions or need more information about Roadrunner Acres RV Ranch. We look forward to hopefully welcoming you as one of our new residents soon!