Races at city airport up in the air

FAIRMONT – Drag races at Fairmont Municipal Airport were nixed a few years ago, with city staff citing concerns about safety regulations, but this week a similar proposal got a much better reception.

Danny Breitbarth, with the Borderline Cruisers car club, has been making the rounds, first talking to potential sponsors and now Fairmont City Council about a drag race at the city airport. He described the event as an old-time scenario, with just two drivers at a time testing the speed of their vehicles in a short sprint to the finish line.

Proceeds from the races would benefit Fairmont firefighters, and Martin County Relay for Life would benefit from food sales.

“The club just wants enough money to cover insurance,” Breitbarth said.

City administrator Mike Humpal hesitated on giving the OK for the drag races until getting input from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Councilman Chad Askeland was excited about the prospect of local drag races. He’s been to similar events at two nearby Iowa town airports, Estherville and Spencer.

“It’s just nuts,” he said. “The community goes crazy for it. I think this is an opportunity for the firefighters.”

Mayor Randy Quiring also voiced his support for the idea.

One holdup could be the airport’s summer construction schedule. If approved, the drag races could take place on the taxiway, but improvements to the runway will require pilots to use the taxiway as a landing area. The car club would like to host the event sometime in August or September.

“If there is an issue with scheduling, you could certainly do it next year, no matter what,” said Councilman Terry Anderson.

Anderson and Askeland are two new faces on the council since the idea of drag races was last proposed, and Humpal is new as city administrator.