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Support grows for prospective drag strip at airport

VIMSA president Jim Johnson tells the crowd Sunday afternoon at the Sportsplex that he is very confident the proposed drag racing facility at the Campbell River Airport location will eventually be a reality.  - Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
VIMSA president Jim Johnson tells the crowd Sunday afternoon at the Sportsplex that he is very confident the proposed drag racing facility at the Campbell River Airport location will eventually be a reality.
— image credit: Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Jim Johnson and the rest of the Vancouver Island Motorsports Association (VIMSA) board seem to be gaining traction off the starting line when it comes to their proposed drag racing facility out by the Campbell River Airport.

That's if the attendance at Sunday's information session and first annual general meeting is anything to go by.

The meeting, held at the Sportsplex Sunday afternoon, saw a gymnasium filled with supporters, people wanting to buy membership in the association and those who had questions about the proposed project.

That project would see a $5-million-plus drag racing facility constructed on a chunk of currently-unused land at the airport. Johnson has been working on this proposal for well over a year, and says that a track will be built somewhere on Vancouver Island in the near future, and he's hoping it will be here, because it would be a great benefit to the region's economy.

"That's the only reason we're ever going to get a drag strip," Johnson says. "It's not going to be because you guys want to go racing, it's going to be because it's good for the community. The combination of your desire to go racing and the people who want to go watch racing is what's going to make it happen."

Johnson says the economic benefit felt by drag strips is well documented and studied, and points to many profitable endeavours around North America, saying the money they bring into their communities would be a huge boon for Campbell River.

"We've pretty much got a captive market. That whole BC Ferries thing is a bit of an issue and with 750,000 people on this Island, we have an audience and enough participants to do the job," he says, pointing to Port Alberni's Thunder in the Valley – an annual event which brings millions of dollars to that community in just one weekend per year – as proof.

A few Campbell River city councilors were there to listen to the presentation, as well, including Mayor Andy Adams, who says the city has been working productively with VIMSA and he looks forward to continuing the process, because they, too, see the possibility of such a facility being of great benefit to the region.

"We really see this as part of the economic diversification of not only Campbell River but the whole North Island," Adams says. "It's a big vision, but we thank you for all your hard work and want you to know that you have our support."

The current step in the process is having a sound attenuation study done to establish the possible impact from the additional volume of the cars racing out at the track, but Johnson says he's confident it will be found to be negligible and they will be able to continue on with the process.

"We will succeed," Johnson says. "There's no doubt about it. I hope it's here in Campbell River. We certainly want it to be here in Campbell River."

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