Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A different roar of engines at Friedman

Airport managers in Hailey are finding other uses for their tarmac. Those uses now might include an auto race.

Friedman Memorial Airport and the Boise chapter of the Snake River Sports Car Club of America are teaming up to produce an autocross—a race of smaller, specifically modified cars to achieve the best time on a closed course of twists and turns between traffic cones about two-thirds of a mile in total length.

The event is tentatively set for Saturday, Oct. 3.

Friedman manager Rick Baird has worked out a deal whereby the car club foots all the costs, including an insurance policy with $10 million coverage.

At a time when revenues from aircraft operations have been in a slump because of the national economic pinch, Baird said he was looking for an event that could be staged annually during the traditional slack period at Friedman and that could eventually lead to revenues to offset operations costs.

Baird said he sees the potential for a significant economic shot in the arm from the autocross if it is staged yearly.

The airport-owned parking ramp south of Atlantic Aviation will be used to stage the event.

According to Chuck Christopher, a Wood River Valley autocross car owner and competitor and spokesman for the SNSCCA, up to 120 competitors might enter the October race, including men, women and perhaps a 12-year-old girl driving a low-powered scooter.

Christopher said he believes that if the event is successful, it could lead to more entrants and a two-day race, and attract a large audience of spectators locally and from out of town.

He calls it "a sport of doing."

He explained that entrants have eight runs to set the best time, usually in the 45- to 60-second range, for a single run. The cars can reach 70 miles an hour on their solo runs.

Christopher said the car club stages 3,000 autocross competitions across the nation, including several in Idaho.

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