Online exclusive - Commissioner Tom Dunlap responds to Bader's comments

Raceway owner wants Huron County Airport property.
Scott Seitz2
Jan 24, 2013


One could say the pressure has been turned up a notch on the Huron County commissioners.

Bill Bader Jr., president of Summit Motorsports Park, said recently he's tired of playing the waiting game. Bader wants to expand his business and the direction he could be headed is north.

The only obstacle with that concept is "north" means the Huron County Airport property.

Bader added if he can't do business here, he'll find a place he can.

Commissioner Tom Dunlap knows the importance of Summit Motorsports Park to this area.

"We don't want to see him go anywhere because of the economic impact his business has on this county and on Erie County," Dunlap said. 

Dunlap said the commissioners have the chance to end the airport drama with these upcoming appointments to the airport board.

"And then establish a good, working relationship with the raceway," he added. "That will be part of the process when interviewing airport board candidates. I know it will be one of my questions."

"Bill Bader is very important to this county," Commissioner Gary Bauer added. "Really, Bill Bader is very important to two counties and that's the truth. Erie County might even benefit more from the raceway with all of their hotels and restaurants."

To read what else was said about this subject, pick up a copy of Wednesday's Reflector. Or you can subscribe to the e-paper for less than $1 per week and read it now.


Brock Lee

this is old

Whiskey Tango F...

I am calling his bluff. Go ahead and bulldoze everything you and your family built. Or sell it and face competition. What does Summit want to do? I think he and his track are a great draw and asset, but he is pouting because he finally heard the word no. I think Norwalk has been very accomodating and supportive over the years. If we give him the airport, he will move onto the next demand. Go ahead, Billy, It has been a good run, but go ahead and leave if you must. The grass is always greener right?


I'm with you!! Call his bluff. He don't have the money to go elsewhere and no one has the money to buy him out.

Estrella Damm

How many commercial flights go in and out of Huron County airport a month?

black crowe

bill bader is very important to bill bader.


Where is the 'like' button? I agree with you Black Crowe.

Whiskey Tango F...

hopefully his new facility will have extra wide doors so he can take his ego with him.

Most Wanted

Tom Dunlap...finally, the voice of reason and thinking about his community!


How hard do you think it would be for him to buy 20 acres in the middle of nowhere, throw down some asphalt and put up some metal bleachers? The racing will come to him regardless of where he is. Sell him that dumpy little airport that no one uses, and make some additonal real estate taxes of him, and cut out airport expenses from county budget.
Seems like a win all the way around.


Bader didn't spend the money to buy the track in Mansfield. For him to purchase the airport then remove the structures in his way and then build what he wants.He backed out of buying the other track at $775,000 and to do what he wants with the airport(if the commissioners doen't just give it to him) would excede $2,000,000


where in the hell do you come up with these numbers, and how do you "know" what he wants to do with the airpot property? Bauer has it right though, Erie co. probably profits more off the strip than Huron co. unless people really like the econo lodge and bob evans. You know what, forget it, I hope he does leave cuz he'll never have it as good as he does here in Nowalk. Maybe the airport should buy him out so they can expand to accomodate all the "businesses" flying in. Anytime I've ever mentioned that I live in Norwalk, usually the next thing brought up is "oh, that's where the racetrack is". That track is the only thing that puts Nowalk on the map. I understand that the airpot is somewhat necessary but, there is one in willat, and one in waketucky. Throw up some more pole barns and slap down some asphalt. Crop dusting will never die in Huron Co. but, if it's gonna take 2-3 mil to buy that airpot, that thing will last forever cuz ain't nobody ever gonna buy that thing. He will leave though. I've never met a person with money that doesn't do what they say they will do. Might not happen quickly but he'll pack up the bleachers and go, which is utimately what will probably happen, he ain't gonna buy the airpots debt. He would've bought Mansfield too, if it were on the southside with quick access to I-71. That'd be worth 2-3 mil plus bleacher relocation and new ashphalt for the 1/4 mile. He is backed by Summit Motorsports you know.

swiss family

sorry "propman" but you keep throwing out all of the information as though you know what is going on in Mr Baders head.. well guess what, you don't. You keep saying proudly that he didn't but the Mansfield track and do the improvements, which would essentially be building an entire complex, so somehow in your logic, (I am sure NOT Mr Baders) you seem to think that because of that .. he wouldn't buy the airport, and pay to remove and renovate the land, and say it would cost over 2 Million....I admit I do not know what is going on inside his head too, BUT I can see how buying and renovating property adjacent to his already thriving show case, would be way more appealing to him, than the Mansfield property.... so Please "Propman" why don't you let Mr. Bader speak for himself, instead of your interpretation of what his actions mean to you... thanks


Methodman and swiss, Bader has stated many times what he wants, all you need to do is remember the other articles and piece together his statements.
With the airport appraised at 1.5 million for land and structures before any work on preparing it for his circle track, hotel and restraunt, things Bader has claimed to have planned.
Have either of you ever been around construction or have any idea of the cost of excavating, construction, cost per cubic yard of concrete/asphalt and the pouring/installation of it? My knowledge of those costs are out of date but it would still be very high. My best qguess is a circle track of asphalt (just the track) could aproach $500,000 or more for a 1/2 nile track.
At $100 per yard of concrete a 1/2 mile track with 4" thick 45' wide would require $440,000 worth of concrete. Then you have the excavating of it,how much for the gravel and tile under the trackfor drainage.
How much for the stands?
Oh, and asphalt is about 80% the cost of concrete, material only.

swiss family

I Have seen that Mr Bader is a smart businessman.. so I am sure he has figured in the costs such as you have.. He took a small, scale little local drag strip, and turned it into something that draws people from all across the country, So I am sure that he does not need any accounting suggestions from you or me.. he does pretty well on hiss own If he sees the benefit of buying the airport property, I am sure he has a vision of making what he already has built up, better, and a way to create a better "campus" out there which will undoubtedly create more jobs and more national draw , which should benefit any local business who also ,sees and seizes the m opportunity, to work with him, instead of against him, as so many seem to be..


His Dad built the track up, many have posted on this and other articles how JR IS NOT doing well at keeping people happy who race or spectate.


I thought your concern was what he would have to pay for the airpot property. What does it matter to you what amount he invests. Also, if he plans to build a circle track, hotel and resturant why would that be a bad thing. you seem to have gotten off your point. But, yes if he would want to accomplish all you are saying then, 2 mil is a drop in the bucket. 2 mil might pay for pipe and stone. Stone is what we use here up north. Grey in color with pointed edges. Gravel is typically used in southern part of the state where there are no "stone" quarries, vary in color and rounded. Gravel also doesn't compact very well so they probably won't use it under a 4" thick (not recommended either) circle track. I'm sure dauch concrete would love to sell half a million dollars worth of concrete. Not to mention the excavating and asphalt. Sounds like alot of work. But, we don't wanna run the crop dusters (which are seasonal) outta work cuz, then they'd have to fly all the way outta waketucky. You're helping yourself lose ground. You can't make everyone happy all the time, I'm sure that's not a problem you have though. Once again, that track puts Nowalk on the map. Well, it and the REFLECTOR.


Here's a question that hasnt been ask yet. How much would it take to buy the airport. I don't want some off the cuff price, The real price. Would the Fed grants have to be paid back? Whats the land worth? What are the buildings worth? The County own all the buildings? The County own all the land that Bill wants to buy? Would it be cheaper for Bill to build another airport and offer a land swap?


@Dusty, here is the info I could find. It's from 2011 but should help answer your questions.
The airport land & buildings are valued at approx. 1.5 million. The neighboring businesses generate (impact revenue) about 1.5 million a year from the airport.
Over the years, the FAA has provided grant funding (approved by the county commissioners) for the airport in excess of over a million dollars.
Because of grant funding regulations the commissioners are unable to sell the airport unless they wait approx. 17 years (it was 20 at the time) or reimburse the FAA approx. $980,000.
So for me, it looks like Mr. Bader would have to pay well over 2 million dollars to buy the airport.
Why hasn't Mr. Bader tried to purchase the homes at the end of the race track on 601? (I know he hasn't talked with the homeowners)
Why hasn't he tried to purchase the farm land near the corner of 20 and 601? ... because the owner WON'T sell to him. His only option then is the airport and he feels as though he can bully/trick/connive/persuade/tantrum to get his way with the commissioners.

As Mr. Bauer stated earlier this week; "to remind county residents that if, somewhere down the road, the county puts the airport up for sale, that doesn't mean Bader automatically gets it. There would have to be a legal sale. Bader might not be the highest bidder."


That's what I was looking for I'm sue he wouldn't pay 2 million for the airport or he would have already made the offer. You Probley couldn't build a air port for loss than a million. So looks like he has no choice but to deal with what he's got. Buy the houses to the north of him. (This would Probley be his best option) Sell his track (I doubt he'd do that). Or abandon the track and go elsewhere.


I agree with Bader. He has proven he wants what is best for his business and then pays appropriately for it. I helped build that airport in the late 60's and it was the only place available when the state/feds gave money to move the airport out of Norwalk. It is time to be moved. It looks like good alternatives are available and should be supported by everyone involved to improve the entire area.


I worked for Leon Riley Escavating at the time

former local

Is it really an ON-LINE exclusive if it's also in the print edition????


Personally I am sick of hearing about this. This is enough bickering about this. Read the blogs. People are tired of hearing I’ll leave. First off I agree the track does bring in business to some degree to local merchants. With that being said they do not bring in the business locally like they did say 8 years ago. I use to be one of the biggest supporters of the track but not any more since they have tried every way they can to take away business from the locals in Norwalk. This I know for a fact.
Now go to map quest type in that you are coming to the track from Toledo or Cleveland and see the route the race fans are getting directions to the track. It is not thru Norwalk but Milan. They have been made aware of this issue years ago by a few people and have showed no desire to get this changed. They want Norwalk support well how about supporting Norwalk.
Second it has already been stated that the tracks motel choices are in Sandusky.. That is not Huron County the last I checked. His own racers and racer fans have been told that he is hoping to build a restaurant and a hotel out there. Some have told me they have seen blue prints. So this might be county tax dollars but sure is not Norwalk or Norwalk schools. This will hurt what business that city does get from the track. Motels, restaurants, gas stations just to name a few. I heard he charges now 50 cents or dollar more a gallon for racing fuel out there now over the stations in town.
You say he provides jobs for kids. Sure does but they do not work them in the labor law rules either. Let a local business try to get away with that.

Also someone needs to talk to these racers that have been going there for years and says it has changed and not for the better. (They have lost that family touch.) (They have got way to pricey.) (That they have become good at giving a cold shoulder not as friendly) These are just comments I have heard directly from the racers and fans. I have never heard one bad comment from racers about Bill Senior. They all loved the track when he was there. Mr. Personality he has been called and still could keep you wanting to come back and enjoy your time there. First class operation then.
I would hope these new commissioners think about what they are doing here because it could be their last time sitting on that seat. I do believe there was a time Norwalk should have done more for the Norwalk Raceway but not today. They only truly care about their pockets and no one else’s. It is sort of sad that Bill Senior worked so hard for this complex to watch the positive things disappear in a matter of 5 or 6 years. I think the down fall of this whole business was when Summit got involved. To them we are stomping ground. Bill Bader Senior had class and ran his business first class and one was proud to mention Norwalk Raceway Park was in their city. Not today. No class and way to much my way or the highway attitude with the county, racers and fans and businesses.
Think commissioners and do some real foot work on this and talk to the business and ask them if things have not changed and what their customers are telling them about the Raceway Park. I think the airport will be standing a lot longer than the track at the way the tracks attitude is now.
You might be in for rude awaking with some good old fashion foot work.


I love the fact that not a single thing has been said about how important the airport is to local businesses. I know for a fact that the airport is a huge asset to farmers in the area. I have seen the planes that crop dusts for farmers making hundreds of landings on the runway throughout the summer. If the airport disappears it will cost farmers thousands of dollars more to have their crops sprayed. I think the airport is more important to the county that Bader.... I really don't think he will leave anyway.... he is just trying to threaten people into doing what he wants. if he wants to expand so bad why doesn't he go west or south on the other side of 18?

Swamp Fox

Drive out to the airport today, its snow covered and no one using it, how important can it be? Does all of those alleged business users not use it in the winter? A few private plane owners want their private play space..


It's snow covered because the commissioners are trying to defund the airport little by little. They haven't given the airport the money they have appropriated for it's upkeep in almost 3 years.
What do you think our county roads would look like today if the commissioners stopped funding the county engineer?

Kottage Kat

Swamp fox
The raceway is all cleaned off and cars are racing up and down the track



""We don't want to see him go anywhere because of the economic impact his business has on this county and on Erie County," Dunlap said." OH NO!!!! Dunlap is drinking the Bader kool-aid. Darn, I voted for him too!! UGH!! GET A CLUE DUNLAP!!


Whitebuffalo, here is what the article said-
Bauer also doesn’t want to watch Bader take his business elsewhere. “Bill Bader is very important to this county,” he said. “Really, Bill Bader is very important to two counties and that’s the truth. “Erie County might even benefit more from the raceway with all of their hotels and restaurants,” Bauer said.
Notice it is Bauer that said it.


Bader is demanding the airport compromises with him but how can someone compromise with him if ALL HE WANTS IS EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!