The America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race was founded by the Balloon Fiesta in 1995 due to the vision and efforts of Mark Sullivan, former Balloon Fiesta President and recipient of the Montgolfier Diplome (one of ballooning's highest honors), who saw the need for America to be identified with the world's most prestigious ballooning sport.
The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, but it differs from the older event in allowing balloons from all countries, without limits on the number of entries from each. The team that travels the longest distance wins.
The America’s Challenge will not be held in 2018, because the distance gas ballooning world championships (Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett) overlaps the Balloon Fiesta, making it impossible for teams to compete in both races. The America’s Challenge is scheduled to return to the Balloon Fiesta in 2019.
Weather permitting, it is possible that some U.S. gas teams may launch exhibition flights from Balloon Fiesta Park during Balloon Fiesta week.