The thrill and adrenaline of revving cars down the asphalt of the old Clarenville airstrip was experienced by drag racers all summer long.
The Clarenville Dragway hosted its final runs of its 15th season on Sunday, Oct. 8, with Dean Anthony of Paradise declared champion of all three series titles; the Atlantic Grocery Gamblers Fast Five, the Auto Parts Network Race Series, and the IBEX Fuels Top Driver.
Organizer, Dave Anthony of Mount Pearl said it was one of their most successful seasons to date. They welcomed drivers and spectators to a full season of eventful races, missing only three days of racing due to unfavourable weather.
Last year, unrelenting rain played havoc with their schedule and caused about half their events to be cancelled.
"It was the worst year in Clarenville, period, as far as the weather goes," said Anthony of the 2011 season. "So this year was much better...we lost one Sunday throughout the year and two Saturdays, so out of 14 possible Saturdays we raced on 12.
"We also had great fan support and had some new racers come out this year, as well, so it is still growing," he added.
At various times throughout the summer, there were as many as 50 drivers and their machines at the strip.
"We had some big days," said Anthony. "The Street-car shootout is always the biggest event of the year and there was good local support as always, particularly on Sundays."
Highlighting the season, were some very close races among competitors, and some exceptional wins by local drivers.
Shoal Harbour resident Derick Martin was very successful in the Pro division of the Auto Parts Network Racing Series. Martin, who races a Mustang, placed first with 270 points.
Dave Anthony, who has been racing for close to 35 years, also did well himself in a number of races including the Gamblers Atlantic Fast Five, in which he placed second. He currently holds the record for having the quickest Dragster in Atlantic Canada, which can accelerate to a speed of 200-miles an hour.
He says the Clarenville Dragway is one of four such drag racing venues in Atlantic Canada, and is growing in popularity.
"A lot of the racers are from the St. John's - Mount Pearl area, and metro St. John's. There are some from Bay Roberts the Grand Falls-Windsor region as well, and several from Clarenville," said Anthony.
"We even had a racer come down from Sydney, N.S., this year, so we do get people from time to time from away."
"Hopefully we will continue to grow on what we've been doing there and keep trying to attract more drivers," he said. "Spectators come out and they seemed to be really happy with what they see, and they can get up close and personal with the cars and get their pictures taken with them and things like that, so we're just hoping to keep growing it that way and keep having a very safe place to race, and to keep drag racing off the streets."
Promoting public safety is of great interest to the Clarenville Dragway, Anthony noted. They hold classes each year to introduce new drivers to the track.
"It's a safe, controlled venue and we really try to encourage people who want to see how fast their cars are to come out there and not do it on the street," he said.
"We do have what's called a 'hobby class' for guys and girls who want to come out and see how fast their cars are. They pay a small fee and come out for one day and make time runs. They're not in competition as such, but that is what we do to encourage those with racecars to come out."
The 16th racing season is expected to begin next June. The opening races normally kick-off on Father's Day weekend.
Anthony says they are very grateful to the community for their support and for attending the races.
"Quite a number of businesses support the racers by sponsoring them and things like that," he concluded. "I would really like to say thank you for that. I appreciate all their support and we look very much forward to doing it all again next year."
Top Five in all classes were:
Gamblers Atlantic Grocery Fast 5:
1. Dean Anthony - 255 points
2. Dave Anthony - 230
3. Jim Powell - 205
4. Paul Power - 200
5. Doug Strickland - 190
Auto Parts Network. Race Series
1. Dean Anthony - 305 points
2. Paul Power - 280
3. Dave Anthony - 270
1. Derek Martin - 270 points
2. Ed Murrin - 200
3. Rob Dawe - 170
IBEX Fuels Top Driver Awards
1. Dean Anthony - .559 win average
2. Paul Power - .552 win average
3. Dave Anthony - .483 win average