Thunder in the Valley will be roaring down Stamp Avenue this summer—pending final approval on Feb. 9.
Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association president Bill Surry was up in front of city council to ask for their approval to host the now eighth-mile event on Stamp Avenue after having their contract with the regional district terminated.
“We the Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association would like to proceed with your proposal of having the Thunder in the Valley event in the City of Port Alberni on Stamp Avenue,” said Surry. The event will span the August long weekend from Aug. 5-7, 2016.
The AVDRA had their contract with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District terminated due to the airport expansion building season this summer.
Fearing losing the event altogether, the city offered up a solution—Stamp Avenue. The AVDRA is in negotiations to use part of the Catalyst Paper site for parking and the pit area.
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“So we were told we could have some areas in town and so we progressed with that,” Surry said.
“The organization has had our safety crew go over the area and they feel that we will be able to host the event in a very safe manner with some modifications.”
The modifications include shortening the race from a quarter-mile to an eighth-mile strip, putting up barriers and removing part of the Stamp Avenue median.
Speaking the next day, streets superintendent Wilf Taekema said that the city didn’t yet have any concerns about the impacts of the race on the city’s streets but that his and city engineer Guy Cicon’s meeting with the AVDRA was at a “fairly high level” and that no costs had yet been discussed for the removal of sections of the Stamp Avenue median.
“It was a portion of it mostly by the south access to Catalyst where they would start the runs. There was an island just south of that and an island just north of that that they were looking at having removed,” he said.
Fire Chief Tim Pley said that he’s confident that any fire risk “can be mitigated.”
Coun. Sharie Minions said that while she’s happy to have the event in the city, liability, safety and logistics still need to be worked out.
While Surry said that plenty of work remains, he’s excited about the event.
“We think that it is a very exciting time in the community and that the economic spinoff will fully exceed our current operations at the airport.”
As another first, Surry said that the event will feature a junior dragster division and people living in the immediate vicinity will get free passes to the event.