Competitors lay down some rubber and smoke the course Sunday during opening races at Thunder in the Valley in 2018. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)

Port Alberni’s Thunder in the Valley drag races returning to Stamp Avenue

Parking will be a challenge for spectators after site shrinks due to construction

Drag races will return to Stamp Avenue in Port Alberni this summer.

Port Alberni city council voted on Monday, Feb. 10 to approve temporary street closures for Stamp Avenue in 2020 and 2021 in order for the Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association (AVDRA) to hold the Thunder in the Valley drag races.

The AVDRA turned its attention back to Stamp Avenue this year after efforts to relocate the races to the Alberni Valley Regional Airport fell through.

READ MORE: B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

City CAO Tim Pley said that the estimated cost to the city for closing the streets—including traffic lights—would be around $6,000. The Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association has agreed to be responsible for all other costs.

“The economic benefit to the community probably outweighs that by 100 times,” said Councillor Ron Paulson on Monday. “For $6,000, I’m not concerned.”

Mayor and council all expressed their support for the drag races. Tseshaht First Nation also sent a letter of support to council for the drag races in 2020 and 2021.

Dave Beecroft, AVDRA vice-president, says that the association is still working out the logistics for this year’s races. Space is limited now that the San Group has started construction of its manufacturing plant on a piece of property that used to belong to Catalyst Paper.

“This year’s going to be a little tighter,” admitted Beecroft on Monday. “Our biggest thing is we’ve lost all our spectator parking.”

The AVDRA is still looking at options for spectator parking.

This year, Stamp Avenue will be closed from Roger Street to Redford Street starting Friday, Aug. 7. The road will be reopened after the event on Sunday, Aug. 9.

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