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Closure of Garfield Ave. for racing trials gets approval

A proposal to close down a portion of Garfield Avenue for racing time trials got the green light today. Ryan Kern, whose company organizes the Duluth Air Show, proposed the event as part of classic car show and said he spent the last two months n...

A proposal to close down a portion of Garfield Avenue for racing time trials got the green light today.

Ryan Kern, whose company organizes the Duluth Air Show, proposed the event as part of classic car show and said he spent the last two months negotiating with city and police leaders to come up with the necessary safety measures before they would approve the closure.

Kern said police chief Gordon Ramsay and City Administrator John Hall signed off on the permit to close the street, which will be done from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14.

Neither Ramsey nor Hall could immediately be reached for comment.

The road will be closed from the intersection of Garfield and Railroad Street all the way to the Goodwill Building near Nelson Road for those who have been invited to race their cars as part of a time trial. Kern said that the course will be blocked off with concrete barriers and that spectators will be allowed to watch only from the starting line.

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"The time-trial is not meant to be a spectator event," he said. "It's meant for a driver and their car to put their car in a time trial at an eighth of a mile."

While police will be on hand to ensure public safety, Kern said all of their costs in addition to other safety precautions will be paid for his business, Kernz & Kompany, as well as the events' sponsors.

"Taxpayers aren't paying a penny," he said.

In order to participate in the "KIA of Duluth Car Show and Time Trials in Lincoln Park," Kern said drivers must have previous racing experience, the car must pass an onsite safety inspection and be fully insured, and all drivers will be required to wear safety gear such as helmets and appropriate safety belts.

When Kern proposed the idea, he said because his was a for-profit company he needed permission from the city council to simply apply to close the street. Once his company got council approval, Kern said he filled out the information and took it to the police department. They suggested increased safety precautions that Kern said were so expensive that he debated whether or not it would be possible to hold the event at all.

If businesses need access to Garfield that day, Kern said they should contact his company at 628-9996.

"We have the ability to put event on hold and let people get in and out," he said.

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