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Photos: Over 1,500 cheer drag racing's return to Sechelt airport

It was a spectacular return of drag racing to the Sechelt Airport tarmac as 80 competitors raced in the company of record crowds. This was the Sunshine Coast Drag Racing Association's first race since the pandemic and since the airport's recent renovations.

It was an “adrenaline rush” for Sabrina Samy to race against her brother-in-law in front of more than 1,550 drag race fans at Sechelt airport on July 10. “Both of our times were quite impeccable, but I was able to just beat him, which was awesome,” Samy, who was competing in her second Sunshine Coast Drag Racing Association (SCDRA) event told Coast Reporter. The young mother is from a “household of racers and car fanatics” with her husband, father, sister-in-law and others participating in the sport.  Also included is her young son, who was a few weeks old and at the track when Samy competed in her first SCDRA event in 2019 and was on hand to watch his mom again this year. Samy exudes enthusiasm for the sport, stating “after last weekend my husband and I were talking about making it [racing] a professional hobby. It would be cool to be out there representing the Sunshine Coast.”She said her times behind the wheel of her husband’s 2020 Dodge Ram 5.7 litre Hemi pickup kept improving through the test and tune day.  “I was able to get people's attention with my burnouts,” she said with a laugh noting that she is looking forward to even faster times and more tire smoke at the association's next racing event, booked for Aug.7.

A 'perfect storm' day

SCDRA president Colin Stracker described the group' first public race since the COVID-19 pandemic halted those events as a success and a “perfect storm."  “There was the right weather, there have not been many events since the restrictions lifted and people were happy to get back to the airport to see the races… it was so busy, we had a hard time accommodating spectator parking,” he said. 

As he is anticipating just as many, if not more, attendees for the group's August event. He said plans are already in the works to identify and mow additional vehicle parking areas and to have more volunteers assigned to assist with traffic management. 

Racing results

On July 10, 80 competitors raced, including 14 motorcycles, according to group spokesperson Richard Austin. Some results from race day included Jay Walls placing first in the “Street Machine” category with Jack Charboneau coming in second. In the “Super Street” class, James Florance led the pack, followed by Jesse Edwards. First place for the “Street Rod” group went to Todd Lancaster with Gerry Diggins taking second and Shawn Boyd was first in the “Hot Rod” division followed by Bob Baxter in second.

James Florance of Roberts Creek’s Powerhouse Racing was named as the driver with the best reaction time and fastest time of the day recognition went to Peter Schober, also of the Creek, who was driving a Tesla. Austin noted that the SCDRA will be adding an electric car class to its August event. He noted they are still looking for a sponsor for that division and those interested can reach out via the group’s website

2022 Ted Meldrum Memorial Awards were presented at the event to local secondary school students Drayden Ashley from Elphinstone and Myles Davis from Chatelech. Those awards are presented annually to youth who demonstrate mechanical aptitude and dedication to motorsport.

Austin was impressed with the event turnout, stating “I joined the club in 2012 and don't recall an attendance count over 1,000.”  On behalf of the association, he issued “a big thank you to the community, volunteers, participants, sponsors and spectators.”

Working with others

One set of volunteers that was part of the event as gate coordinators was the local “Pulling Together” canoe journey group. Their spokesperson, Kerry Mahlman was grateful for the opportunity, as the association provides compensation to the groups that help them out.“This gives us an opportunity to raise some funds for local Pulling Together canoe activities. After almost three years the Northern Dancer canoes are finally getting back on the water this summer through the shíshálh Nation, School District and Paddle Club youth programming… we need a few hundred dollars to complete fundraising for a new boat trailer and we are hoping this will add to the funds for a 'Pulling Together Reconciliation Scholarship' for the descendant of a Sechelt or Kamloops residential school survivor,” Mahlman said. Stracker said the association would be reaching out to the District of Sechelt to review the event with a goal of making possible future events even better.  One thing he would like to see included in the upcoming 2022 events would be on-site camping for out-of-town racers.  He explained that this had been permitted prior to 2019 and that it is a practice used at many events at other B.C. locations. As for Samy, she would eventually like to see “night racing” at Sechelt airport. “Wouldn’t it be great to have the community come out and see that? I would be so stoked to race under lights.” Coast Reporter contacted the District of Sechelt for its comments about the resumption of drag racing at the airport. They were unable to provide a comment prior to our publication deadline.