Thunder in the Valley lures drag racing enthusiasts to Port Alberni

The 2015 drag racing event kicks off Aug. 7 with a show n shine at Harbour Quay and racing Aug. 8–9 at the regional airport.

Larry Hopps of Port Alberni takes his 'Home Brew' truck for a 'spin' at a test and tune night at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

A familiar rumble and roar will greet Alberni Valley residents when Thunder in the Valley hits the throttle this weekend at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

“We have 16 door slammer cars coming,” said Alberni Valley Drag Race Association president Bill Surry.

“Those are our high powered cars and we’ll have a pretty good field.”

That’s not the only class Surry is excited for.

“Everything’s going real well. We had a couple of test and tunes and laid down some rubber.

“We have a nitro-dragster coming and a couple other dragsters.”

While rumours about whether this year’s race would happen or not slowed down early registration, Surry said it’s almost back to normal.

“We’re at about 225-230 right at the moment and we usually run between 240-260,” said Surry.

“So it’s down a little bit but we might get them before we’re finished. There was a lot of apprehension.”

The details of how the event will run in future years is still up in the air—negotiations for a new location haven’t amounted to anything, Surry said.

“It went nowhere,” said Surry.

“Until they give us a spot and say ‘this is yours now,’ we can’t do much so at this point in time we’re still operating from the airport.”

Surry said that the AVDRA will have to wait for the results of the alternate approval process—which finished on Aug. 5—to  figure out their next steps.

“We don’t know what the expansion will do to us,” he said.

“We hope that there’s some way around it and that we can maybe make something a bit different at the airport and still be running.”

One of the options offered up by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is moving the race strip to the western end of the runway.

“That’s the latest of the possibilities because there’s about 500 feet or more at the other end that’s all flat and graveled,” said Surry.

“If we pave it or put concrete into there we can run from there.”

It would be the most convenient move for the drag race.

“We just move our bleachers, our safety stuff and everything else to the other end,” said Surry.

“That way we can still use some of the facilities at the airport even if we have to make changes.”

If the race moved to the western end of the runway, there would be no more issues with laying rubber or degrading the runway in any way.

“It’s off the end of the runway at the opposite end of where the expansion’s going,” said Surry.

“The only thing that will be on the runway is the shut down area… we won’t be tearing up any of their stuff. It’ll be our own area and it won’t bother anybody.”

But despite any future concerns, Surry is focused on making sure that this year’s event runs smoothly.

“We’re all ready to go. We’re going to start at noon on Thursday (Aug. 6) and start setting up and be ready to go,” Surry said.

With a new sticking compound being used this year, Surry said there will be a few test drives on Friday night to make sure that it’s all working the way it should.

“When we’re all set up with all our timing gear in place we’re going to take a few runs on it and see what happens and how the cars react,” he said.

Surry’s hoping that the preparations will draw a crowd even before the event gets going on Saturday morning.

“We’d love people to come and see what we’re doing. We turn that airport into a little city and people don’t see exactly how much work goes into getting it ready,” said Surry.

Thunder in the Valley officially kicks off with a car show at 4 p.m. at the Harbour Quay on Friday, Aug. 7. Races start at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8. and continue till 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9. Gates will open at 8 a.m. and tickets are $20 per day or $35 for the whole weekend. For more information please visit www.albernidragracing.com.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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