Options to be discussed as West End drag racing deadline nears

FORKS — Members of the Forks city staff, West End Thunder, Sen. Patty Murray’s staff and the Federal Aviation Administration will discuss Thursday whether an agreement can be reached to allow drag racing to continue at Forks Municipal Airport.

The races, which draw thousands to the West End during race weekends in the summer, are now at Forks Municipal Airport, but the Federal Aviation Administration has said they must relocate after this year’s season.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Olympic Natural Resources Center, 1455 S. Forks Ave.

No decisions are to be made at the meeting.

The meeting will be open to the public and was set up as a meeting for the city, the FAA and the senator’s office to discuss possible options for the airport, Mayor Bryon Monohon said.

An FFA policy prohibits airports with grant obligations to close for nonaviation uses. The airport has accepted grants from FAA.

The city of Forks, which owns the airport, and the racing club were granted an exception in August 2006.

It allowed the airport to be closed to aviation for a maximum of 10 FAA-approved days through 2011.

Close permanently?

“The FAA is giving us an all-or-nothing answer; they are saying that if we close the airport these 15 times per year, we have to close permanently,” Monohon said.

“But to us, that doesn’t make sense. We have two airports, so we can just use the other airport if someone had to land during that time.”

The Quillayute Airport would not be feasible to be used for drag racing because it would be too expensive to bring the runway up to the point that cars could race on it safely, Monohon said

A Port of Port Angeles study determined it was not economically feasible to build a new race track, so the organization is still searching for a new home.

Two-year extension?

Cary Bourum, president of West End Thunder, said there is a possibility of a two-year extension but that it is still up in the air.

“I think there are maybe three or four options for the city,” he said.

“We are hoping we can get one.

“The congressional staff didn’t bring it up, but they did say we might be able to get an extension while we deliberate through this mess.”

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Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

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