A drag racing event planned for this summer is entangled in federal red tape, according to Mike Trautman, president of the Jamestown Drag Racing Association.
“The airport loves having us out there,” he said, “but the FAA has been getting really strict on us every year, more and more so. They decided they’d rather not have us out there.”
Katie Hemmer, director of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority, said the local authority had approved a drag racing event for this summer contingent on approval by the FAA.
Hemmer said the FAA denied the event because it had spent about $2.2 million last year on upgrades to the runway where the drag races would be held.
“From the regional airport’s perspective, we charged a fee to cover any extra work that might occur around the races,” Hemmer said. “The drag racing association did maintenance following the event including replacing any crack sealing on the runway.”
The drag racing event uses about half of the cross-wind runway at the airport. This runway is not used under most wind conditions. Drag races are halted when commercial aircraft are approaching the main runway but commercial operations at the airport are not disrupted while the drag racing is held.
Hemmer said the FAA has not issued a formal denial of the request to hold the drag races. She anticipates that within the next week the agency will issue a formal decision or request additional information.
Trautman said his group just learned of the denial and hadn’t formulated a way to proceed this summer.
The Drag Racing Association is in the process of acquiring 501c3 status as a nonprofit corporation. Once that is accomplished, they could begin fundraising for a track of their own west of Jamestown.
“As far as the actual (construction), it just depends on the fundraising,” Trautman said. “We’re hoping in three to five years, because that’s a lot of money to raise for just a small group like ours.”
The Drag Racing Association had been using a runway at the Jamestown Regional Airport for 18 years.
“We’ve never had a problem with drag racing but didn’t want to risk our relationship with the FAA,” Hemmer said.
The FAA provides funds for the Jamestown Regional Airport and also regulates the airports operations.