Richmond International to discount fuel on NASCAR weekend

Article written By: Mike Collins of AOPA

General aviation pilots visiting Richmond International Airport in Richmond, Va., April 22 through 28 will save 6 cents per gallon on purchases of 100LL or Jet A fuel. The Capital Regional Airport Commission, which owns and operates the airport, is waiving its 6-cents-per-gallon fuel flowage fee for the week.

The discounts, being offered for the first time, were inspired by the spring 2013 NASCAR weekend at the nearby Richmond International Raceway. “We have two NASCAR races in April and two in September,” said Jon Mathiasen, president and CEO of the commission. “We thought it would be a nice gesture, to not only promote NASCAR but to promote ourselves.”

“Race weekend is our busiest weekend,” said Michael Clarke, general manager of the Richmond Jet Center, one of two FBOs on the field. “Every ramp, every square inch of this airport is full of airplanes.”

Despite the expected traffic, Clarke said parking reservations are not required. “We’ve always been able to accommodate them.” However, visiting pilots who want to see the race will want to reserve a rental car; the track is about a 20-minute drive from the field.

“We welcome them,” said Gene McDonough, president of Million Air Richmond. McDonough agreed that NASCAR weekends are the airport’s busiest of the year, although he said the number of aircraft has dwindled over the years as race teams have moved to bigger airplanes—as large as Boeing 727s and 737s, he said.

Mathiasen said the fuel discounts are available to all GA aircraft during the period, whether based at the airport or transient—and regardless of the pilot’s reason for visiting Richmond.

The airport has worked with the raceway in the past with passengers arriving by airline. “In the terminal building, with the airline traffic, you can definitely see the race fans—they’re wearing the clothing of their favorite drivers,” Mathiasen said. “We wanted to do something with general aviation.”

The commission is developing the east side of the airport to allow for more corporate tenants. Mathiasen said a new access road, ramp, and two hangars already have been built, and he expects a new taxiway project to be under construction by June 2014. “We’ve been very blessed with the corporate growth that we’ve had. With the continued growth of the airport, we want to make sure we have the infrastructure in place for the future.”