Thunder in the Valley has been cancelled for 2020. This time, it is due to the coronavirus pandemic and a B.C. ministerial order banning large gatherings this summer.
The Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association announced the cancellation on its website on Friday, April 24, 2020, following a Thursday night board meeting.
“We basically came to the conclusion because of the coronavirus we weren’t going to be able to race this year,” AVDRA president Ben VeenKamp said.
This is the second year in a row that the popular drag racing event has been cancelled. The 2019 event was cancelled after the AVDRA and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District were at odds over whether the races could return to the Alberni Valley Regional Airport, where the races had a successful run for more than a decade.
The City of Port Alberni had given permission for the race to run on Stamp Avenue in both 2019 and 2020, and with construction happening on San Group’s plot of land at the corner of Roger Street and Stamp Avenue, new ideas for public parking were in the works for this year’s event.
“We have Stamp Avenue for two years. We’re definitely going to race there in 2021 unless there is another virus (outbreak),” VeenKamp said.
British Columbia’s provincial health officer announced April 18, 2020 that she won’t be giving the OK for large events this summer because of the threat of COVID-19.
“Realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
VeenKamp said parking had been sorted, and bleachers were going to be set up on the east side of Stamp Avenue, with the Paper Excellence and San Group properties being reserved for race cars and trailers. Handicapped parking and an admission gate were also in the works.
“We are also talking to the city about a more permanent place,” he added.
“We’ve been talking to a couple of different groups and the city. There are definitely groups interested in helping us out, trying to find us some land where we can have a one-eighth or a quarter-mile drag strip. It will probably be one-eighth.”
The AVDRA was hoping this year’s Thunder in the Valley would help raise funds to put into a permanent facility. “That’s what we will do next year,” he said.
“We’re not giving up.”