By Nikki Jamieson
A street race may be taking place near Vauxhall this fall, but don’t worry — it’ll be perfectly legal.
During their regular Feb. 28 meeting, the Municipal District of Taber council received a letter from the Street Wheelers Car Club, accompanied by an unusual addition: the club’s treasurer, Dean Parker.
According to Parker and the letter, Street Wheelers is a non-profit group of 32 volunteers who love cars and giving back to the community. Founded in Lethbridge, for the past 41 years they have been hosting events around southern Alberta for car enthusiasts so that everyone can have fun safely and legally. Their major event is the three-day Street Machine Weekend in Lethbridge, and they have also done drag racing days in Medicine Hat and Fort Macleod, and for the past two-years, have hosted a ‘heads-up’ styled drag race in Fort Macleod.
This year, the club wants to host a drag racing event at the Vauxhall Airport, and are asking for the M.D.’s permission to do so. The club already has the necessary supplies, volunteers and insurance for the event, and will hire security, toilets and fire services for the site.
“First of all Dean (Parker), I appreciate what your group does in trying to do this legally, and not go off to some spot. You still have your fun, but it’s not being done on the streets,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D.
M.D. CAO Derrick Krizsan said that the dates they would prefer — Sept.23 or Sept. 30 — was “good timing” and remarked that the Vauxhall airport was less busy.
“We would do an eighth-mile drag race, so that the drag strip has plenty of length for the cars to slow down,” said Parker. “We wouldn’t use any traction compound at all, we would have what we would call ‘water boxes’, for the cars to do burnouts. We would put water down so they would be able to spin their tires, and we would be able to do rolling burnouts, just so that they’re not just sitting there in one spot. And yes, we would start at the very end of the airstrip, to minimize impact.”
Brewin asked what would happen if a car goes off track. Parker said that there woulds be designated spectator areas, adding that in Fort Macleod, it would start at the starting line and make a line of pylons out from there, so the spectators wouldn’t be able to get close to the track at all.
“We would clearly mark out where spectators are allowed, and that’s why we would have security as well, to enforce those policies,” said Parker. “And of course, security would enforce a zero tolerance policy for alcohol as well.”
Brewin wondered if they could use concrete barriers as well noting that thy would have to consult with the airport committee and bother Bryan Badura, director of co-oporate service for the M.D., and Brian Peers, director of municipal lands and leases, about insurance. Although the club has their own insurance for the event, Brewin wanted to be sure the M.D. was covered, adding “it’s better safe than sorry”.
Parker added that there have been other drag races at airports, saying that in 2016, the Lethbridge Airport held one for the Le Barons Car Club, which it will be hosting again this year. They could talk to the Lethbridge Airport to get recommendations to do one in Vauxhall. There was also one at the Edmonton Airport, ‘Want to go Fast’, which is a “different style” from the ones the Street Wheelers put on.
Any vehicle can drive in the race, as long as it is safe to drive and meets the National Hot Rod Association’s specifications, such as vehicle being under 5,000 lbs.
“If a car was to show up, we would do a full look over it, make sure it’s safe to run, the battery’s tied down, everything is safe as far as the car itself and also helmets are required and have to be within a certain spec,” said Parker.
As the majority of cars that turn up for these races are one that can be driven down the street, they have no kill switch. However, “if a car of that caliber does come”, there is a shut off switch on the back of those cars, said Parker, and they’ll have the necessary fire equipment and safety for their car.
“Those types of cars are more of a dragster style. This type of event is geared more towards street cars,” said Parker. “There might be one or two guys that bring out their drag cars, but for the most part, we’re dealing with street cars where we’re not hitting too crazy of a speed.”
Council passed a motion to grant the request, conditional that the airport committee and operators out of the airport approve and insurance liabilities come back OK.