NORWALK, Ohio – Summit Motorsports Park President Bill Bader Jr. is continuing to fight a recent ruling by the Ohio Department of Transportation that could put the future of the drag strip in jeopardy.
Recently the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration ordered the removal of three light poles on the park’s property that are in proximity to the small Huron County Airport, including one which has been in place for nearly 20 years.
“The closest light pole is 280 feet, nearly the length of a football field, away from the southern edge of the airport runway,” said Bader, Jr. “The Huron County Airport is a visual approach airport. As such, no pilot is permitted to drop his or her aircraft below 600 feet unless the runway is in plain sight. Our light poles are 60 feet tall, which means that an airplane is 540 feet above our poles. For an airplane to hit one of our light poles, a pilot would need to violate approach rules by dropping 540 feet below the required minimum of 600 feet and be off course by missing the actual runway by nearly 300 feet.”
According to Bader, if implemented, the ruling would threaten the survival of Summit Motorsports Park, as the lighting system is required for several of its annual events, including the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
That, in turn, would threaten the $100 million in economic impact the park has been determined to have on the community. It also could mean the loss of jobs for 30 full-time employees and 428 seasonal employees at the park.
As word of the ruling has spread, supporters of Summit Motorsports Park have been calling, emailing and writing to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, state Rep. Dick Stein, R-Nowalk, state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray and other officials to urge them to present to Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration alternatives to the ruling to remove three light poles on the park’s property.
“Our family has been committed to the motorsports industry for nearly 45 years,” said Bader. “Everything we’ve worked to build is on the line and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to fight for it.”