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Bader sets the record straight

Scott Seitz2 • Jul 13, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Bill Bader Jr. wanted to set the record straight on a number of issues Wednesday.

"First off, Bill Bader Sr. and Bill Bader Jr. are the owners of Summit Motorsports Park," he said.

Bader said a comment made by a former airport board member in a Reflector article on Wednesday could have led readers to believe he and his father did not own Summit Motorsports Park.

Once that was clarified, Bader addressed a number of other business and airport-related concerns.

Bader disputed the number of vehicles which actually used the airport runway as an exit over the July 4 weekend.

Doug Arnold, airport secretary, said at Tuesday's board meeting 2,955 vehicles exited the raceway via the runway during the weekend.

Bader said there's no way that's accurate.

Bader said, by calculating the acreage used for parking at the Wilson lot and the amount of vehicles on that acreage and which direction those cars were sent to exit, between 2,500 and 3,000 vehicles used the runway as an exit each day.

"I didn't know I had to keep track of this to defend myself," he said.

He said he can also play that numbers game.

"I'll put a friggin' camera at the end of the runway and video the number of planes that take off and land each day," Bader added.

Bader said he's tired of dealing with the airport.

"I'm not going to sit quietly anymore," he said. "If they want to play dirty pool, so be it."

Bader indicated he has little use for the Friends of the Huron County Airport group.

"Why is it so important to them to present Summit Motorsports Park in a negative light?" he said.

According to Bader, the Friends Facebook page showed pictures of empty stands at the raceway, trying to indicate attendance was down.

"We had a tremendous weekend -- a great weekend," he said. "The weather was beautiful and we had a packed house. It was a great event."

Bader said the raceway's battle with the airport dates back to 2006.

"From the early 1990s to 2006, we had a contract and used the runway with no issues," he said.

Bader said in 2006 a sewer easement was granted by the county commissioners, which upset a former airport board member, and it's been a battle ever since.

Bader addressed the local future of the raceway.

When his father bought the race track in 1974, he couldn't have imagined how much it would grow.

"Now, we have outgrown our campus," he said. "And, that's nobody's fault. We need a minimum of 500 acres. I am actively looking for a 500-acre campus."

Bader said the current facility is about 225 acres.

Bader said he knew it was time to look for a new facility when he read on the front page of the Reflector the headline, "Access Denied."

That headline referred to the Federal Aviation Administration's denial of Bader's request to use the airport runway as an exit during May's Cavalcade of Stars.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," he said.

"I just want to grow my business," he added. "That's why I'm looking at other parcels of property."

Bader said he's had meetings with officials in Erie and Lorain counties.

"I love the city of Norwalk," he said. "My kids got a top-flight education here and it is a great town. We've just outgrown our space."

Purchasing the airport property would help ease the raceway's space needs, but Bader knows selling and/or buying the airport is a complicated process.

"I think the reality is starting to set in that may not be a possibility," he said. "That's why I'm looking in a 30-mile radius."

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