The roar of a dragster reverberated from the Campbell River airport Thursday afternoon.
It was all part of a test to determine how disruptive the sound of drag racing at a proposed racing facility at the airport could be.
And although only one car running at less than full speed is not going to replicate a full day of drag racing with two cars in each race, plus others warming up and undergoing race preparations, officials from the City of Campbell River and the Vancouver Island MotorSports Association (VIMSA) said the data they collect from this one car can be used to determine potential noise levels.
“This car’s on the noisy end,” said Otto Schulte, a drag racing driver from Black Creek who provided the test car and drove it on a Campbell River Airport taxiway.
Schulte’s RJ Race Cars 2005 Cavalier drag race car was built from the ground up in Illinois and it has a Texas-built 1,200 horsepower 598 cubic inch engine.
“It’s a very stout car,” Schulte said.
Schulte did what is called a burnout – which drivers do before a race to prepare the tires – and then sent the car down one of the airport taxiways.
The burnout is a noisy process in which the driver revs the engine up and spins the tires to heat them up. The car then drove a length of the taxiway under controlled conditions but not at full speed because the stretch of tarmac is not designed for racing cars.
Schulte mostly races off the Island, although he has raced at smaller venues in Port McNeill, Port Alberni and Victoria but not in a vehicle the size of his current one.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a facility on the Island that can handle a car of this type so we’d really look forward to having a facility of this type here so we could stay here,” Schulte said.
Elle Brovold, property services manager with the City of Campbell River, said the airport has a lot of development-ready land and VIMSA came to the city with a proposal for a drag racing facility.
“This noise study is kind of step one in determining what impacts it may have on its surroundings,” Brovold said. “Any time we impact neighbouring properties, we want to look at what the implications would be so, in addition to the noise study, we’re looking at traffic impact studies and all those other types of things that will impact the area.”
Brovold said that although this is one isolated study and one drag racing car, the city will be able to amplify that data and give then an accurate idea of what to expect.
These types of facilities are frequently located in industrial areas that are not as close to residential properties. Brosvold said the airport is considered a similar sort of location and one that already has a high level of noise, namely the take off and landing of airplanes.
The engineers had recording stations in the immediate area around the airport and one 2.5 km away on Dogwood Street near Erickson Road. The data compiled will be written up in a report for city council.
VIMA president Jim Johnson is excited about what they saw in the test.
“It’s a step. You know, we’ve got a lot of steps to go through to get this process all completed and really make something happen and I think this was a really significant one,” he said.
He said from his preliminary look at the engineers’ data, minutes after the test, it “looks pretty good.”
Johnson did acknowledge that in real race conditions there will be two cars running down the track as well as other engines running at the same time.
However, he said he was surprised at how low the noise level was from the airport’s administration building when the car was revving up near the test site at the north end of the airport property.
Johnson said the proposed facility would be located near where the test was conducted at the north end of the airport property.
VIMA proposes a facility that could be used not only for drag racing but also other races as well as other types of events like concerts and markets.