Spouses take to track at Alberni’s Thunder in the Valley

A number of husband-and-wife teams are making their presence known at Thunder in the Valley 2011 this weekend.

Annette Clement and her husband

Annette Clement can’t help grinning when she walks closer to her race car, a 1967 Acadian, parked on a freshly-cut patch of grass on her front lawn. “It’s my grocery-getter,” she says of the car, the sun reflecting painfully off the shiny paint job.

This weekend, the only thing Clement hopes to get with her car is speed. She will make her debut in the street class at Thunder in the Valley, Port Alberni’s annual drag racing event held on the runway at the municipal airport. Racing takes place Aug. 6–7.

Clement is one of a growing breed of drag racer: husband-and-wife teams. While this is her first year racing, her husband, Rick Robertson, has been racing since 1987.

Both come from a racing background: his mother raced powder puffs in Vancouver in the 1950s; her father used to take her to crash-to-pass and demolition derbies when she was growing up in Chemainus.

“He comes and watches every year,” Clement said of her father. “This year he’s going to get to see his daughter race.”

Robertson has taken his 1969 Dodge Dart 340 Swinger to Western Speedway in Victoria and once to Saratoga Speedway in Black Creek. He has raced Thunder in the Valley since 2006, and both he and Clement have volunteered at the event for several years.

His best run was 13.22 seconds in 2009 at Thunder in the Valley—and the car delivered what he likes best about racing: speed.

Robertson said he’s looking forward to watching Clement compete in her first race. He thought about moving back to street class so she could make her first run beside him, but decided to stay in the modified class.

“She’ll be all right,” he said.

Ron and Elaine Mani have been involved with Thunder in the Valley almost since its inception. Ron has raced right from the beginning, and served as vice-president, looked after site preparation and parking, and this year is taking care of the timing system.

Elaine started helping out with racer registrations nine years ago, and has since become the main person doing that job. In 2008, she decided to leave the registration tent and enter the event herself.

“I’d been around it for a long time. I just decided they couldn’t have all the fun,” she says. “I found a car.”

She will be racing her 1991 Ford Mustang with a 351W-block engine for her fourth year. This year she has stepped up to the modified class.

Ron races his 1964 Ford Fairlane in the modified class too.

July and August are busy months for the Manis, who are part-owners in M&D Auto Parts in Port Alberni (their colleague, Darren Rai, also races in the mod class). Ron works on both of their own cars, although Elaine is not simply a bystander. She calls herself a “gear-head” and says she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty working on her own motor.

“It’s kind of nice because I get all his old stuff,” she says. “Every time he upgrades I get an upgrade.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Port Alberni Black Sheep fall to Surrey Beavers in rugby action

Three tries late in the second half cemented the win for Beavers

Addiction should be treated, not criminalized, say health professionals

Port Alberni Shelter Society forum talks opioid crisis

‘Hello, 911? There’s a horse in my living room’

Sproat Lake firefighters called to ‘rescue’ quarter-horse from Alberni Valley house

Drivers’ bad habits on Port Alberni RCMP’s radar

Seatbelt, cellphone violations handed out in distracted driving campaign

City of Port Alberni takes over McLean Mill pond project

Alberni Valley Enhancement Society received grant for work that went sideways

AFN national chief suggests moving Trans Mountain pipeline route

Perry Bellegarde said many Indigenous communities believe in the need to diversify export markets

VIDEO: a close-up look at what you were breathing during the wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Premier John Horgan ponders debate on voting system changes

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wants one-on-one, no Green

Saganash drops F-bomb in Commons over federal approach to Trans Mountain

NDP’s reconciliation critic accused federal government of ‘wilfully’ violating constitutional duties

B.C. cancer patient denied chemo due to condition of homeless shelter

Victoria housing and health advocates say this isn’t an isolated case

Most Read