CONCORD – A charter jet carrying NASCAR officials and race team members on their way to this weekend’s race in Dover, Del., taxied off the runway at Concord Regional Airway Thursday and got stuck in the turf. Nobody was hurt, but officials were forced to close the runway on an unusually busy afternoon.
Workers were not able to tow the jet back onto the runway, and officials closed the airport to incoming and outgoing traffic. Airport officials were not available for comment Thursday afternoon. A woman answering the phone there said all were busy working on the incident. Race team members said they hoped to have an update by 7 p.m.
The 737-800 charter jet was taxiing and preparing to turn onto the 7,400 foot runway when its right wheels got stuck in a soft grassy area, according to Chris Chidgey, who works for BK Racing and was on the plane preparing to take off.
He said as the jet was turning the corner to go onto the runway, the wheels got stuck. “The pilot tried to power it out, but he couldn’t do it. Then they tried to use a tow vehicle,” he said. When that failed, workers showed up with shovels to try and dig the wheels out.
Passengers were taken off the plane and told it could be 7 p.m. before they have a clearer idea when they’ll be able to take off.
The incident caused delays for other teams in private jets that also were lined up for takeoff. “It shut down air traffic,” Mr. Chidgey said. “We have friends on the Hendrick and Penske planes. They were all in line behind us. Now they’re mad at us. Everyone just wants to get out.”