FORKS – The Federal Aviation Administration has given the go-ahead for drag races at the Forks Municipal Airport.
“The races are on,” Mayor Nedra Reed said Thursday.
The West End Thunder Club’s drag races, which began last year, were in doubt for this season.
A Federal Aviation Administration policy does not permit those airports that have grant obligations to it to close for non-aviation uses.
City officials had thought that it had no such obligations to the FAA, but discovered in August that it did.
The city and the club have been working since then to acquire an exception to FAA’s rule.
The city is to keep the airport open, except for a maximum of 10 specific dates approved by the FAA each year through 2011.
After that, the West End Thunder Club is expected to find another site for the drag races.
The first public race is scheduled in June, said Phil Arbeiter, president of the nonprofit West End Thunder Club.
Dates that the airport will be closed and racing permitted this season are June 22-24, July 13-15, Aug. 3-5, Aug. 24-26 and Sept. 14-16, according to the FAA.
“People have already been calling and making reservations for dates,” Reed said.
“It really does bring a lot of business into the community,” the mayor added.
“I’ve had business owners say that they made more money during a drag racing weekend than during the Fourth of July, which is our biggest event of the year.”
The FAA’s letter to the city was dated Tuesday and signed by Carol A. Key, supervisor of the Washington section of the FAA.
The agreement was announced on Thursday.
“The FAA has really been good to work with,” Reed said.
“The FAA has made some concessions and we will not let them down.”
Reed said that the races draw spectators and drivers from all across the North Olympic Peninsula and the state.
“I was in Federal Way at a grocery store and the clerk said, ‘Oh, you’re from Forks. We go there to the races all the time,'” the mayor reported.
“It’s really put us on the map.”