Multi-sport race track proposed

Local enthusiasts want to build drag racing facility

Campbell River could be such a drag.

A drag strip, that is.

Local drag racing enthusiast Eric Harper says he’ll be asking city council for its support in securing a multi-sport racing park for Campbell River.

Harper is in pursuit of funding for a National Hot Road Association (NHRA)-sanctioned facility – an event that would put Campbell River in the forefront of drag racing in British Columbia. Harper said he has private investors interested in the concept and will be going before council March 22 to outline his plans and secure city support.

“What we need is help from the city,” said the owner of Harpers Performance Tuning in Campbellton.

Harper envisions building a facility west of the airport on land currently owned by TimberWest.

“We’re already in talks with TimberWest to purchase 1,000 acres near the airport,” Harper said.

The facility would bring 35,000-50,000 people to an event, which would equate to up to $9 million of economic activity per weekend for the community.

A Campbell River facility would be similar to Mission Raceway in the Fraser Valley which is hosted by a community of 35,000 – similar in size to Campbell River.

Harper and his partner Andy DeRoover built a website (www.crdrags.com) and in it they say they have gathered information from the Port Alberni drag race weekend “Thunder In The Valley” from 2004. The economic impact to the community, hotels/motels/restaurants / gas bars etc., was $731,250-$1,250,000 and these numbers have grown every year.

“We have contacted Mission Raceways and were told they bring in over $4 million to the community per year but could have brought in substantially more for the community if they could have held national events,” Harper says on crdrags.com, “but they do not have enough property for the parking for the racers to come to the event with all their trucks and trailers. The city of Mission has a population of around 35,000, similar to ours.”

Crucial to the plan is the “multi-sport” concept.

“One-venue parks don’t survive,” Harper said. “We’re trying to make it work 12 months a year.”

The proposed facility would involve more than just racing. It would include an amphitheater for local bands, as well as big name concerts and for local schools to use for plays and music. It would also include a drive-in theatre, a state of the art series style go-cart track and general cart rentals, motorcycle road race course, a small water/amusement park for kids with a possible drop off and daycare/fun care center.

The main facility would be a NHRA or IHRA (International Hot Road Association) legal quarter-mile drag strip to include Friday night drags to keep street racing off the streets. There would also be a dirt style oval track, auto cross, BMX/moto cross track, rock climbing for 4x4s, quad track and hill climbing, off roading area and eventually a junior drag school for up and coming young racers.

Why Campbell River? Harper is a born-and-raised Campbell Riverite and wants the facility here. But, he said, if it can’t get done here he knows he can make it work somewhere else on the Island like Port Alberni or Nanaimo.

The sport is popular on the Island, Harper says. Vancouver Island has the highest amount of NHRA licence holders per capita in North America with no track to service them, he says.

Harper expects some objections to the racing facility but says they may be built on misconceptions, one of them being noise.

But the track will be built with noise in mind, i.e., it will have sunken tracks and angled sides so the sound goes up instead of out.

And being on the far side of the airport takes it away from the main population of the city.

As for pollution, race fuels will be either ethanol, alcohol, propane or electric.

“So this is far cleaner than pump gas,” Harper says.

He also envisions the track being a facility to test and promote alternate fuels, bringing the alternate fuel and energy industry to Campbell River.

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