Over 3,000 spectators came by to take in Thunder in the Valley’s inaugural run down Stamp Avenue earlier this month.
“We had 3,000 spectators over the weekend, 200 volunteers and 161 racers,” said Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association treasurer Caroline Jefferson.
This is the first time the AVDRA has run the drags on Stamp Avenue, as well as the first time they’ve run it as an eighth-mile. For the past 15 years, they’ve run out of the airport but with the runway expansion closing down the faclity till the end of September, they were forced to find another venue.
Preparation began months in advance as barriers were installed on Stamp Ave., medians removed, a burnout box and a new entrance into Catalyst Paper were built and trees were cleared to make room for spectators.
The AVDRA paid for the burnout box and the tree clearing, making for a tight budget.
“We broke even but we didn’t make anything. We still have bills coming in,” said Jefferson.
“It’s going to be close.”
Jefferson is hopeful that if the city agrees to host the event on Stamp Avenue in future years—although no contract has yet been signed—then preparing the site will be easier.
“If we do it there next year then we won’t have the added costs of paying for a burnout box and the tree clearing,” she said.
“This year we were laying the groundwork and next year there will be less problems.”
The problems were mostly to do with layout, Jefferson said.
“The gate entrance wasn’t great and the signage wasn’t clear. There were better places for it,” she said, noting that both that and the location and cleanliness of the bathrooms will be something to address next year.
“It’s a learning curve.”
The rubber currently covering Stamp Avenue will largely wash out with the next rainfall, Jefferson added.
As to whether or not Thunder in the Valley will run on Stamp Avenue again next year, Jefferson said that the AVDRA won’t know until a post-drags meeting is held, likely at the end of the month.
However, prior to the races being held the city had asked the AVDRA for a five-year contract.
“They asked us to sign but we said ‘are you sure?’ And what if it physically didn’t work for us? So they said we’ll do it this year and then we’ll see how it works,” she said.