City wants to study drag strip proposal

Two Campbell River men who want to build a community multi-sport park may have to wait up to two months for council to give them the green light

Two Campbell River men who want to build a community multi-sport park may have to wait up to two months for council to give them the green light.

Eric Harper, owner of Harpers Performance Tuning, and his business partner Andy DeRoover want to build a quarter-mile race track to host National Hot Road Association (NHRA) sanctioned events and possibly even NASCAR.

“We’re asking the big boys to come in – like NASCAR and Spring racing,” said Harper.

The two men presented the concept to city council Tuesday night, looking for a letter of support from the city in order to secure an option on the property they intend to purchase.

Harper and DeRoover say they are already in talks with TimberWest to purchase 1,000 acres of land west of the airport.

Andy Laidlaw, city manager, said he had questions about potential land, servicing and traffic issues and would like to meet separately with the two men to get more information.

Council agreed there were more questions that needed to be answered before it could lend its support.

“I’d like to get confirmation from staff to see what’s involved in this,” said Coun. Ziggy Stewart.

Laidlaw said he could get a report back to council but it likely would not be until early May because of upcoming financial deliberations and the Easter holiday. Laidlaw noted it could be earlier if the the men are able to provide him with the information needed.

Harper and DeRoover seem to have done at least a large chunk of their homework, studying the economic benefits the annual Thunder in the Alberni Valley drag race event has on Port Alberni.

That community brings in on average $9 million the week before and after the event. In Mission, a community similar in size to Campbell River, the raceway generates $4 million for the community each year.

Harper believes just one NHRA event could bring 20,000-35,000 into the community and generate between $731,000 and $1.25 million.

Harper and DeRoover’s vision is to build a $200 million facility that would include three to four drag race events a year to get drag racers off the street. It would also include a dirt track for BMX/motocross events and a quad track.

But that’s not all. In order to be successful Harper believes it would have to encompass the “multi-sport” concept.

“We are proposing to build a multi-sport park for the purpose of having multiple revenue streams from several businesses within the park that will all contribute to maintain a quarter-mile track as it is too costly to sustain just a quarter-mile race track on its own revenue,” said Harper.

The men hope to attract families to Campbell River and would like to add an amphitheatre to host concerts and other entertainment, a go-cart track and possibly an amusement park.

“It is a multi-business venture and our developer is determining what we could put in to the track,” said Harper. “None of this is set in cement, we’d do a study on it and see which would be best for our park.”

Harper said the consultant he and DeRoover have hired has designed the Las Vegas and Kentucky Speedway and several amusement parks in the United States.

For more information on the proposed project, visit Harper and DeRoover’s website, www.crdrags.com