If you’re looking to give that special dad something a little different this Father’s Day why not take him to see cars reaching speeds of up to almost 200 miles per hour.
The Clarenville Dragway returns for its 15th season this weekend and organizers hope Mother Nature will provide good racing conditions.
“Our biggest hope for this summer is to get some good weather,” says race organizer Dave Anthony. “Last summer was our absolute worst on record at the Clarenville Dragway. We lost half our dates last year to rain. It was just unbelievable because the weather in the Clarenville area is usually good. We’re not looking for too much. We just need it to be dry.”
Anthony says there is a good indication the dragway will see a lot of support this summer.
“We’ll have some new cars coming out and we have some people coming back after a short hiatus. We’re optimistic we’re going to have a good race season,” he says.
The dragway is a quarter mile strip that uses an airstrip located northeast of Clarenville. The strip opened in 1997 after drag racing at the Argentia circuit ended.
Competitors will see some improvements at the track as well as some familiar faces returning to help run the events.
“We’ve made some improvements to our timing equipment and we’ve got Keith Leo Power, one of our more famous announcers, returning to do the announcing of the races for us,” says Anthony. “He did the announcing for us a number of years ago and was quite popular with the spectators. I’m sure he will be well received again this summer.”
One aspect Anthony says they hope to improve on this summer is to make sure everyone is informed and to let people know what’s happening.
On average there are approximately 35 diehard regular competitors that never miss a race weekend. However, over the course of a season Anthony says they have had up to 120 competitors, just not all at the one time.
“One of the things we’ve tried to communicate is that you don’t have to come out every weekend. If some someone wants to come out for a couple of weekends over the course of the summer that’s fine. They’re more than welcome. If someone wants to come out for just one race weekend they’re more than welcome to do that,” he says.
Anthony says newcomers are especially welcome.
“If you’re a first-timer we’ll help you through it and explain how it all works. Once a person learns the routine it becomes a lot of fun.
“We’re not out to make money. We’re about giving people a safe place to race and to keep racing where it should be, in a sanctioned, safe venue.”
There are a few basic requirements to racing at the dragway. The individual has to have a legal drivers licence. The car has to pass the dragway safety inspection because safety is paramount. Also a helmet is mandatory.
Race weekends usually draw 300-500 spectators. However, the bigger weekends can draw upwards of 1,200 spectators to the stands. One event that draws big numbers is the annual streetcar shootout.
“That’s the one that determines who has the fastest street legal licenced car in the province. We’re full to the rafters for that particular race,” says Anthony. “There are guys whose whole season revolves around that one event.”
And it’s not just cars that speed down the track. There are also racing events for motorcycles, diesel trucks and even snowmobiles.
The next race weekend after Fathers Day is scheduled for June 30 and July 1. The streetcar shootout is set for Aug. 11-12.