In 2019, a TV producer for The Discovery Channel approached 13 airports throughout the region in the hopes of shooting a pilot program surrounding drag racing at their properties. Twelve of them said absolutely not according to Carmi Airport Manager Greg Brown. He says he was the only one who said, “we’ll give it a try.” That 4 year production has come to an end according to City of Carmi officials and sour grapes appear to be the culprit.
“Every year that we have had this program, there were a handful of not local pilots that rent hangar space from the airports tenants, and they started filing complaints with both the Illinois Department of Transportation Aeronautics.”
Brown says ever since the City started, he has complied with regulations and forms that had to be filed to have a non-aeronautic event at the airport. Brown says one of the purposes of the show was to in fact show that aeronautical events could function together in the same space with non-aeronautical events. In fact, many times planes were able to land while 660 Grudge Street productions were ongoing, according to the facility manager.
The problem came in Brown says when fresh sealant was laid down at the airport runway and taxiway and a complaint came in that the cars had torn up the sealant. Brown says it was a small spot in the “burnout boxes” where the sealant had been scuffed. Brown says what the state didn’t document was, “a 4,500 foot long scrape where somebody dragged an airplane with a flat tire. They didn’t say anything about that.”
Ultimately, the FAA and IDOT told the City of Carmi that if the racing didn’t stop immediately, they would be financially responsible for the full bill of the resurfacing instead of their 5% from the grant, according to Brown.
Dustin Larkin with 660 Grudge Street says, “on behalf of 660, we want to thank Carmi for letting us use their town to shoot our tv show for the last 4 years. The town’s been amazing. The people have been amazing and I think the episodes that we’ve produced are great and we’ve been really delighted that we’ve been able to put Carmi in the spotlight.”
An official with the City of Carmi says, “It saddens me to have to report that the four remaining racing events at the Carmi Municipal Airport have been canceled for the season. This decision has been made due to the fact a small group of pilots and/or individuals have constantly contacted the State with false accusations and issues pertaining to the airport. I would like to apologize to Pets at Risk, Hucks Karing for Kids, Shriner’s Club Childrens Hospital and the Autism Awareness Charity for the loss of donations from each race. Also, I want to apologize to the local businesses for their loss of revenue for the weekends of the races.”
The remainder of the races scheduled for the Carmi Airport this summer have been moved to the Sloan Harrisburg Raceway.