The sound of engines roaring in the distance, and the sight of lights glowing from garage doors into the wee hours begin weeks before Thunder in the Valley in Port Alberni. Racers have been busy finetuning their cars in anticipation of the annual drag racing event, which takes place this Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.
A car show hosted by the Valley Street Rods on Friday night at Harbour Quay kicks off festivities.
“It’s going to be huge,” says Bill Surry, the man in charge of a large contingent of volunteers who manage to pull off this event every year. There are 270 cars registered in several different classes, and waiting lists were filling up weeks ago.
The two-day event—celebrating 14 years in 2014—usually draws 2,000 spectators over the weekend, Surry said. Enviable numbers in the drag racing world.
“The amount of spectators we get here is huge compared to anywhere else except international events,” he noted.
Surry anticipates there will be 50 cars from the area, with the rest coming from out of town. There are a number of specialty cars slated to attend, including Brent Murray and his Damn Yankee funny car and Phil Ruskowski with his nitro burning top fuel dragster.
Greg Dolling of Port Alberni will be there with his 1993 Beretta, one of more than two dozen Canada West Doorslammers expected to attend.
Dolling switched to the Doorslammers last year after racing a homebuilt Mustang in the pro class for a number of years. “It was a city car we made into a drag car,” he said.
“I’m hoping for high sevens, to break the eight-second barrier,” he said. “It’s pretty much ready to roll.”
For more info, check out the AVDRA website at albernidragracing.com.