Three drag races this year, all in sunshine, and all insured and COVID-authorized. Sechelt Airport saw the year’s final race on Saturday, Sept. 5 occur without a hitch, with the drag club even accommodating the safe landing and takeoff of a local plane. In descending order of speed, here are the results from the four classes.
Hot Rod: Two racers named Shawn met in the thunderous final. Delta visitor Shawn Gerak in a thousand-horsepower jet-black Chevelle SS challenged Shawn Boyd, with our “Kenmac man” taking the win.
Street Rod: Vancouver racer Brian Hinada comes over for every race with his white Mustang, and came out on top, beating the nitrous-oxide boosted car of Tyler Muryn. Incidentally, this compressed N2O liquefied gas, commonly known as laughing gas, was also used by Yancey Bromley in her Malibu, and by Norm Robertson in his deafening F250 pickup. Nitrous can stimulate an instant 100-to-200 horsepower boost for a few seconds, but it can also blow an engine to pieces. You will know if a racer has N2O on tap, because at the start line white vapour shoots up from the hood, “purging” the pipes – it’s not the windshield washers.
Super Street: In his well-known green Mustang Mach 1, built 50 years ago, Mike Van Der Linden defeated Madeira Park’s Tom Sealey who drove a 50-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix. Don’t get the idea that drag racing is only for new cars.
Street Machine: Youth versus age in this final race, and Chatelech grad Jordan Engler’s modest Nissan defeated a series of rivals to meet veteran Jack Charboneau from Gibsons in his Jeep Grand Cherokee – and “youth” won the prize this time.
Motorcycles: Friends and workmates Jack Field and Grant Weyman brought two big V-twin motorbikes to the track. Jack’s Harley Davidson, the 100th Anniversary model, weighing 850 lb., surprised fans with its velocity. Grant Weyman’s stripped-down 1500cc Suzuki is a “work in progress,” racing for the first time, and in a best-of-three series, Jack’s Harley took the crown. The Sunshine Coast Drag Racing Association (SCDRA) hopes to see more motorcyclists racing next year; where else can a rider crack open the throttle on a safe and empty track?
To round off the day, race marshal Colin Stracker paired up the four different class winners for a last “gamblers” competition; again, Mike Van Der Linden smiled the winner’s smile.
I took a break from announcing to have my annual adrenaline checkup, by riding as passenger with Dan Keen in his all-out Camaro from Surrey. THE NOISE, THE VIOLENCE, THE SPEED. Imagine standing quietly on the tarmac, and a B.C. Lions fullback charging into your back – and that initial force builds until you fear you might take off. During the last 20 years, a few lucky invitees have taken these rides and never forgotten the experience. My thanks to Dan Keen, who unfortunately suffered engine damage during his runs on Saturday. But he’ll be back. They always come back.
Unusually, the popular Powell River band of racers took home no trophies this time; but they too will be back.
Who they are
Who are these people at the drag races? Here are just a few. The race starter, Lorne Mackie, was an owner/operator in the trucking industry for three decades all over North America. He has drag raced at Sechelt airport for 14 years, sitting out only when his Plymouth’s powerful engine blew apart at the start line a few years ago. Jay Walls has been a high school teacher for over 15 years at Pender Harbour and at Elphinstone, teaching shop and organizing school drag race clubs. Jay races a pretty little Pontiac Astre stuffed with a monster engine and racing gears. Brenda Masich too is a high school teacher, at Chatelech, and has chaperoned student racing trips to B.C. and the States, as well as handling the SCDRA’s treasurer duties. Richard Austin’s hotel management career, organizing large staffs and budgets, is a blessing for the SCDRA’s admin. Cavin Crawford and family member Tegan volunteer many hours on site maintenance. Cavin was operating every kind of heavy equipment in different and dangerous work sites, ever since his early teens. David Timmins, the staging-lane marshal, has been a production designer, copywriter, and graphic artist in the commercial industry; he was able to explain to me how Vital Signs and Sechelt Signs created the club’s plaques and posters. And from dawn to day’s end, John Jefferies and William McDonaugh from Gibsons set up and ran the PA system, the safety equipment, patrolled the track, and monitored COVID compliance by everyone at the event.
Where were those three racing Stanley-Clarkes, Peter, Levi, and Becca? Absent on this occasion because they were at Rebecca’s wedding rehearsal on the nearby family farm in Wilson Creek – but to the cheers of the assembled racers, Peter, the father of the bride, suddenly arrived for one quick blast down the runway before hurrying back to the rehearsal. That’s the appeal of drag racing!
– David Kipling, Contributing Writer