NASCAR puts brakes on new track

Pilots at Arlington Municipal Airport (AWO) in Arlington, Wash., no longer have to worry about a NASCAR track being built near the field. On Nov. 22 International Speedway Corp. and the politicians of Snohomish County put the brakes on negotiations.

The ISC wanted the community to put up $250 million for construction of the track. The politicians said no.

The ISC, which is still looking for a location in the Pacific Northwest, is reportedly considering property near the Bremerton International Airport (PWT), approximately 50 nautical miles southwest of Arlington.

“The ISC has shown interest in our area in general terms,” confirmed Tim Thomson, chief operations officer for the Port of Bremerton. “They are looking at property that is near the airport but does not belong to the Port of Bremerton.”

Thomson said he was not aware of any opposition to the track in the Bremerton area.

“We’ve all been watching what has been happening in Snohomish County for the last 18 months,” he said, adding that the port’s emphasis is on increasing utilization of the airport, which, in theory, could happen if a track is built. “We’re interested in a recreational venue like this as long as there is compatible use with the airport,” he stressed.

Chief among objections to the Arlington location was the creation of TFRs over the track on race days. Because the proposed track site was within a few miles of the airport, the airport would have to close when the track was in operation.

TFRs are nothing new to pilots at the Bremerton Airport. Since Sept. 11, pilots have had to contend with restricted airspace over the Navy’s mothballed fleet in the Port of Bremerton and the submarine base at Bangor.

ISC officials note that part of the criteria for choosing where a track will be built is whether a community welcomes the track. They also note that tracks bring a lot of money into a community, starting with jobs during construction, to an inflow of cash on race days.

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