Drag strip ramps up on Stamp

Preparations for Thunder in the Valley are going smoothly, according to Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association president Bill Surry.

City of Port Alberni manager of operations Wilf Taekema

Preparations for Thunder in the Valley are going smoothly, according to Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association president Bill Surry.

“They’re starting to ramp up. It will be the same as it was at the airport, just maybe not all in one area as we were at the airport. It will be a little bit more spread out along the [Catalyst Paper] mill property.”

“We’ve laid out how we’re going to run [on Stamp Avenue].

“We have all the approvals from Catalyst Paper to use their side of the property,” Surry said.

Part of the preparations will include the city removing the median centring Stamp Avenue, Surry said.

Event organizers are still experimenting with spectator locations, possibly changing them around somewhat.

“We’re trying to use different areas for spectators and fence part of it but overall we’re hoping that everything will stay basically the same,” said Surry.

Working in a much more contained area has presented its own challenges, he added.

“There will be a lot of people around the area because when they come in with their rigs, they’ll be camping on site because they won’t leave their cars unattended,” said Surry.

The site will remain open to the public until approximately 10 p.m.

After that, the site will be closed down until the next morning.

Surry is hoping to bring in some new attractions as well.

“We now have a helicopter pad real close so people want to come and do helicopter rides from the back end of the mill.”

The AVDRA is looking at bringing in junior dragsters as well.

“They are from the ages of six to 16 and we already have four of them lined up,” said Surry.

“As soon as we announce it I’m sure that there are going to be eight to 10 of them that are going to come here. We’re trying to make it more family-oriented this year.”

The reduced eighth-mile length hasn’t turned racers off.

“We’ve had a ton of feedback, we’ve had a lot of people wanting to register already,” said Surry.

“I get e-mails, phone calls, text messages all the time. It’s pretty exciting.”

Registrations open May 1, giving the AVDRA a few more weeks to figure out the logistics.

“What we’re trying to do is decide if we’re going to put a cap on the fastest time or speed because really, until the median’s gone out of there we’re not sure. We want to take a car out there and try it because we’re not sure 100 miles an hour isn’t going to create a problem,” said Surry.

“It shouldn’t, under normal circumstances but with the road being uneven and things like that, there’s all sort of issues that you have to worry about. Then we’re ready to go, we hope.”

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