Drag event safe for 2015: Surry

Alberni Valley drag racer Dyan Lover is worried that the annual Thunder in the Valley drag racing event won’t be considered.

Alberni Valley drag racer Dyan Lover is worried that the annual Thunder in the Valley drag racing event won’t be considered in any of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s runway extension decisions.

But Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association president Bill Surry said the fate of this year’s race is secure.

“We have put a fortune into [the ACRD’s airport] infrastructure” yet that work isn’t acknowledged in the business case study,  Lover said.

Regional district airport manager Mark Fortune said that conducting the annual summer drag race at the AVRA is still part of the plan, however, the configuration may have to change if the extension is completed. Allowances would have to be made for the construction phase as well, he added.

Surry says the 2015 Thunder in the Valley event will go as planned.

“We have concerns, not knowing exactly what is happening at this point in time,” he said.

“We want to keep going and we’re not sure if we will be able to.”

The ACRD and the drag racing association have had preliminary talks about the extension proposal, Surry said. The AVDRA has also considered a new location but no concrete plans have been set, he added.

Tensions between the Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association and the airport started when the rubber was removed from the runway in May 2014 and again in March 2015, Lover said.

The first cleaning was conducted by an ACRD contractor while the second was done and paid for by Coulson Aircrane prior to bringing in their C-130, Fortune said.

“The runway’s surface, because we had such a mild winter or other unknown reasons, it had a really aggressive moss buildup and lichen/slime buildup so it was really slippery,” said Fortune.

The ACRD was already in the process of removing the slime but lacked the equipment to complete the job.

“It was a big benefit for us.”

Lover doesn’t believe that the rubber, which she said made the race dangerous for the faster cars at Thunder in the Valley, needed to be removed.

“They’ve left it alone for 13 years, why do it twice in one year? I can’t see why they can’t just leave it alone. It’s not broken.”

Fortune said that when he joined the ACRD as airport superintendent in 2013, he found the condition of the rubber buildup on the runway to be “unacceptable,” citing 3/8s of an inch of flaking rubber that could make landings more difficult as well as clog a plane’s engine, leaving the ACRD liable.

Fortune said the rubber is now scheduled to be removed every five to seven years.

Surry said the AVDRA has a new compound they will use this year to ensure there is enough traction for the racers.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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