Cumberland Times-News

December 17, 2013

Airport motor sports brought money to area

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— It was very sad to see staff writer Elaine Blaisdell’s report about the National Road Autosport’s request to hold autosports events at the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport being declined.

It’s somewhat interesting that the airport needs to spend $2 million to resurface the runways that don’t have planes landing or taking off on them.

That’s $2 million that will benefit only a handful of airport employees and contractors, while the loss of outside funds coming into the community as a result of stopping the events on that pavement will hurt a lot of local folks.

I’ve not been up there for any events for the last few years as my racing efforts have taken me to other venues. But I have attended many events up there in the past.

About the only air traffic was the Maryland State Police helicopter (it certainly doesn’t need a $2 million runway), and a few private planes that could easily have used the grass as a landing strip.

I guess the people on the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority board (who get the majority of their money directly from the federal government) are overlooking the fact that more then 7,000 racers and their crews have come to town, stayed in hotels, eaten in restaurants, purchased gasoline, paid for other local entertainment and otherwise funneled money into the local economy that primarily would probably have been spent in the Baltimore/Washington or Pittsburgh areas.

Consider the fact that by the time a driver tows his race car from the Baltimore/Washington area or Pittsburgh, puts the crew up for the night in local hotels, feeds them at local restaurants, entertains them at local entertainment facilities, gasses up for the ride home at local gas stations, and purchases parts and supplies from local retailers, many of them are spending around $1,000 for that weekend.

That translates into $7 million that have been pumped into the local economy directly as a result of these events.

Maybe National Road can find another venue, but until they do, that money is going to be spent in the Baltimore/Washington and Pittsburgh areas, not locally.

While many of the local people may have forgotten the motor sports history that was made at the airport, the racers have not. And that history alone is what keeps many of them coming back. If the events are moved to the fairgrounds, the fairgrounds just do not have the same history to pull auto sport enthusiasts from out of the area.

If the auto sports events are moved from the airport, I expect this situation is going to keep a lot of outside money from coming into the local economy this summer.

Fran Honeywell, Ph.D


president, Allied Motor Sports