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Orange drag race proposal idling

ORANGE — With the cancellation of last week’s airport commissioners meeting, the proposal to bring a drag racing car show back to the Orange Airport is stuck in a holding pattern.

In the meantime, Drag Racing Reunion Organizer John Durfee says support for the return of drag races and a related car show continues to build among Orange residents, town and state officials.

State Rep. Denise Andrews said, “I’m very supportive of the return of (drag racing). Historically, it’s been a successful event, bringing hundreds of people to the area to enjoy the day and to understand what we have to offer in the North Quabbin … and support businesses and economic development.”

According to Durfee, drag racing supporters have collected over a hundred signatures on a petition supporting the come-back of these events at the airport.

Durfee said he has so far presented two proposals to airport management, one for a static car show of drag-racing vehicles to be held on the front lawn of the facility. The second proposal would bring drag-racing events back to land on the south side of the airfield.

According to Durfee, the event originated in Orange but moved several years ago to the Fitchburg airport.

He said that Airport Commissioner Len Bedaw told him the airport commissioners would consider the car show event on the airport’s front lawn at their next meeting, but all proposals for using the property behind the airport must be submitted as part of a formal Request for Proposals process.

Bedaw said this formal process will begin at the end of the month following a public posting of the RFP. Bedaw and airport commissioners will consider all applicants for development and use of the land south of the airport.

Andrews said she was aware airport officials are “looking at other options as well (as drag racing) … They have a good process in place for bringing in new business to the airport. I’m looking forward to seeing where they come out.”

Durfee requested a letter of support for the drag-racing car show from selectmen last month. Chamber of Commerce Member Services Coordinator Maria Bull encouraged board members to support the event.

Selectboard Chairwoman Kathy Reinig said she hoped that airport commissioners “would take a good look” at whether or not it is feasible to host the event at the airport as “These big events bring a lot of people into town and that’s very good for (economic development) …”

Durfee said a static car show will draw crowds to Orange, “but if you want to bring the most revenue … the best show … is the one that has racing events … that’s what the merchants and all those other people (supporting the initiative) want.”

Durfee added he will turn to other towns if the idea of drag-racing doesn’t take-off with Orange airport commissioners.

“I think it would be a great thing for Orange to have drag-racing (and the car show) return to town ... I don’t know why (airport commissioners) would put on the brakes but if they do put the brakes on, I’ll take it elsewhere.”

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