A doorslammer completes a run at Alberni Valley Regional Airport during Thunder in the Valley 2012. The airport will close to air traffic and open to quarter-mile drag racing Saturday morning (Aug. 10

Thunder in the Valley comes to Alberni Aug. 10-11

It's away to the drag races in Port Alberni this weekend, as the airport transforms into a quarter-mile drag strip.

The weather promises to be hot and the cars even hotter as the 13th annual Thunder in the Valley kicks off Friday, Aug. 9 with a show ‘n shine at Harbour Quay and culminates in two days of quarter-mile drag racing at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

As happens every year, the racing classes filled quickly and there is a full slate, event spokesperson Darren Willis said.

This year’s race features the largest contingent of doorslammers—about 25, Willis said. Raising the prize money helped boost numbers  in the popular category.

Other classes of cars that run include street cars, mod, pro, super pro, doorslammers and bikes. They will run in that order, Willis said.

This year’s feature car is Alaska-based Derek Snelson’s jet-powered funny car, Warhawk. “That’s likely going to be the fastest thing we’ve ever had run out there,” Willis said.

The car can top out at 483 kilometres per hour (300 miles per hour), and Willis expects the thrust-powered car might reach 435 kph (270 mph) on the quarter-mile strip.

“With the jet car, because it’s all thrust he can run as fast as he normally does,” Willis said.

Some of the past feature cars rely on traction, and with Thunder in the Valley only running once a year—and being used as an airport runway the rest of the time—there isn’t much traction on the track.

Warhawk will run in the late morning on Saturday, after all the classes have run, then again in the late afternoon.

Willis said he hopes Snelson will run a similar schedule on Sunday.

◆ GATES OPEN 8 a.m. for tech; racing starts at 9 a.m.; gates close at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

◆ TICKETS available at the gate: $20 for adults. Kids 12 and under admitted for free.

◆ SHOW ‘N SHINE Friday, Aug. 9 at Harbour Quay; gates open 4 p.m., show starts at 5 p.m.

◆ MORE INFO at www.thunderav.com

Something new this year that racers will appreciate is the event website: www.thunderav.com. “We’re going to be able to automate the registration process,” Willis said.

Elaine (Mani) Blight has been handling the registrations by hand every year until 2013; now that the system will be automated, Bight is retiring as registrar.

“The automated system will allow (racers) to know how many cars are registered in a class,” and racers will receive immediate confirmation of whether they are registered.

(Registrations open in May and are always full by June. There is always a waiting iist, Willis said.)

After 13 years of holding the drag racing event at the airport, the Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association finally completed its return road.

The 10-foot-by-1200-foot road connects the end of the drag strip with the existing taxiway of the airport, and eliminates the need for racers to return via the dirt.

“A lot of people stepped up and made big contributions for the return road,” Willis said.

Those donating more than $2,000 to the road project included the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, Catalyst Paper, Bowerman Excavating and Holtzman Construction.

TECH TALK…Lordco is the title sponsor for Thunder in the Valley…Casler Ventures created the new website, www.thunderav.com.

editor@albernivalleynews.com