Sport Pilots In Arlington Brace For NASCAR Invasion

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Pilots who frequent a Washington State airport known as an incubator of grass-roots aviation say it's on the verge of losing its innocence. Arlington Airport (among the first to have dedicated facilities for ultralights and sure to be a Sport Pilot hotbed) could soon be filled periodically with the Gulfstreams, Challengers, Citations and Hawkers of the rich and famous as they converge on a new NASCAR track planned next door. "Arlington is a rural, recreational, general aviation airport and that's gonna change and that's too bad," pilot Bruce Angell told The Seattle Times. In fact, the proximity of the airport is a key factor in International Speedway Corp.'s preference for the Arlington site. Spokesman Lee Combs said that although the drivers and their teams make their living on the ground, private air travel is fundamental to the sport. "The only way to move those guys around the country is to use ... private aviation," Combs said. Many fans also fly to races and the result is that airports close to NASCAR events are usually clogged with bizjets. Arlington would also be close enough to the track that operations would be banned during large events because of TFRs that would be imposed. The management at airports near existing tracks told the Times that the Arlington pilots' fears are well-founded. But they also said the events are a boon to airport businesses. "It does a lot for an area," said Dick Lewis, who runs Concord Regional Airport in North Carolina, near Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. "There is an inconvenience, definitely, to the [local] pilots." However, the airport sells so much fuel on those weekends that it has to have trucks standing by to keep refilling the tanks.