A competitor in the modified class does a burn-out to get traction on his tires before a race on Sunday afternoon at the 2012 Thunder in the Valley in Port Alberni.

Thunder in the Valley feels the heat in 2012

Temperatures of 37 Celsius thinned the crowds at the 2012 Thunder in the Valley in Alberni but the event celebrated another successful year.

Temperatures of 37 Celsius thinned the crowds at this years Thunder in the Valley but the event celebrated another successful year, Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association President Bill Surry said.

The numbers are still being crunched but the crowds topped out at approximately 4,500 this year, which is down from the 6,500 that attended last year.

Spectators split their time between the Tlu-Piich games and wakeboard/wakeskate championships, which were both held in the Valley last weekend.

Lower attendance impacts the bottom line as well and Surry estimates the event made between $50,000 to $60,000 before expenses, he said.

But blistering temperatures, which on Saturday measured 37 Celsius (60 Celsius trackside), kept fans out of the stands and someplace cooler. “We were down by 500 to 700 people on Saturday. It was pretty dam hot,” Surry said. “We had to do extra track prep too before races because of the heat.”

From start to finish the event went off without a hitch, Surry said. “The racing was good, everything finished on time and we’re even almost finished cleaning up,” he said. “It’s almost an airport again.”

More than 280 racers competed in six different car classes and there were some notable race times, Surry said.

Brent Harris recorded a 7.13 (seconds) at 200.46 miles-per-hour, Surry said. Harris drives a 1933 Willies Gasser in the exhibition class. Lyle Newton ran 193 m.p.h. on a top-fuel Harley Davidson motorcycle. And Parksville’s Brent Murray, who drives the car Damn Yankee, clocked consistent seven second times, Murray said.

A race on Saturday pitting Harris against Chilliwack’s Dwayne Grosart stood out. “They were neck and neck at 190-plus milers-per hour,” Surry said.

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