The Summit Motorsports Park has fallen back into the crosshairs of the Ohio state government in what could soon become a court battle with major ramifications to the future of the world-class racetrack, according to a report published by the Norwalk Reflector on Friday.
Per the extensive story written by Cary Ashby, Ohio DOT Director Jerry Wray informed Summit Motorsports Parks’ Bill Bader, Jr. via certified letter that three light poles on the far north end of its property “penetrate the civil airport imaginary surfaces” of the Huron County Airport, per Federal Aviation Regulation. The ODOT’s stance is that the poles, some 60 feet tall that provide lighting for racers and safety officials at the final turnout and the sand trap (the sand trap is located with permission on airport property), raise “safety concerns that far outweigh any economic and technical factors,” and as such, they’ve denied a legal appeal by Bader to drop the motion.
One of the three poles in question has been standing for two decades, while the other two were added during the winter of 2015/16 as part of an upgrade in the track’s lighting. The pole closest to the airport is 280 feet from the south end of the landing strip, and while Bader has offered to install flashing beacons atop the poles — a move that the airport president and independent airport consultants have agreed would be suitable — ODOT has remained steadfast in their stance that the poles must be removed.
Key to the outcome of this battle is the fact that the poles were installed to meet the requirements of the NHRA for national and divisional event sanctioning and that of its FOX Sports broadcasts, both of which are also tied directly into its naming rights agreement with Summit Racing Equipment. Thusly, should ODOT win out, Bader stands to lose his successful mid-summer national event along with his NHRA sanctioning and insurance, and the track’s lucrative naming rights deal.
As such, Bader says he plans to fight the decision, going so far as to say, “I will bankrupt my company fighting them, but I will not take those (expletive) poles down. It’s a very critical part of the track.”
You can read the story in its entirety on the Norwalk Reflector here.