Will Boyne City’s drag races continue?

drag race webBeth Gohs

Staff Writer

The Memorial Day drag race was discontinued this year … and the Labor Day drag race may follow suit.

Boyne City Police Chief Jeffery Gaither told the Boyne City Gazette last week that he is working with a group who could potentially take over the drag races, as the police department is retiring from race duties it has served in years prior.
“We’re directly working with some people that are trying to continue the drag race for Labor Day,” Gaither said. “At this point I’d say we think it’s still going to go. It won’t be the Boyne City Police Drag Race, but it’ll be the same thing basically.”
He added, “We’re still in the organization phase of this and trying to get it together.”
Started by former Boyne City Police Chief Randy Howard, the event has been a fundraiser for both the police and the Boyne City Municipal Airport.
According to Gaither they raised $10,000 for the last race they had.
The loss of that money would also impact he Lions Club.
Oral Sutliff, member of the Lions Club, said they sell concessions at the races, and the money they raise helps.
“From the Lions’ standpoint it just gives us more resources to give back to the community,” Sutliff said. “And the people that are doing the drag racing they really like it. It’s too noisy for me but people who attend seem to like it.”
The manager of the Boyne City Airport, Michael Cain, said the police department told the airport board about the changes a year ago.
“It will definitely make the budget tighter,” Cain said of the potential loss of fundraising to the airport. “We prepared our budget this year assuming there would be no revenues from the drag race. We know they are in transition and uncertain as to where they’re going moving foreword—we prepared for the worst case scenario.”
He added. “We’re hoping the Labor Day Drag Race will go on and know they’re working on that, looking at other options for having that continued.”
With the drag races being a community tradition, the police department is trying to work with a group of volunteers to continue the races. Cain talked about the potential group, stating the airport would partner with them if they follow safety procedures and are qualified.
“One thing that’s important to us is safety and the public,” said Cain. “This isn’t something that anyone can take over or that we would allow to take over. If a group of volunteers came foreword but we didn’t think it could be done safely or properly—it won’t be happening at the Boyne city airport.”
He added, “As much as we like the event and all the great times we’ve had with the police department we’re not just looking at the money, we’re looking at a safe fun event for everyone involved—it’s gotta be good for the community all around.”
Edward Dunn, of Boyne City, unaware that the races would be put on hold until the police department found a replacement, expressed dismay at the absence of a Memorial Day event.
“I’m always a spectator and was planning on attending,” Dunn said. “My friend called and said no one was at the airport.”
He added, “I was angry and very disappointed. I look foreword to the event all year. The one year it was rained out after about an hour and they said we could get a refund. No way, the money went to a good cause.”
Gaither said the department just doesn’t have the resources to continue hosting the event.
“We’re done putting on drag races because of the amount of manpower it takes,” Gaither said. “Officers have been volunteering their time and they are getting burned out.”
The Boyne City Gazette will provide an update on this matter as soon as information is made available.