A second weekend of drag races at the Campbell Hill raceway took place on Aug. 24-25, and organizer Dwight Toews of Thunder in the Valley Raceway says that even though there weren’t quite as many cars as anticipated, the event went very well.
“We had about 55 to 60 cars, but there were a lot of other events that weekend,” says Toews. “Everyone I talked to was impressed by the layout, and liked it even better than the event in June. The volunteers definitely stepped it up.
“The racers thought everything was a lot more organized, and the spectators thought so too.”
The weather was fine on Saturday, but some rain blew through the area on the second day.
“Unfortunately, we had a little rain on Sunday, and that kind of dampened things, but you can’t control Mother Nature.” Toews adds, however, that there were a lot of spectators taking in the races over both days, and he thinks that a lot of locals were there.
“I want to add something to the range of entertainment that’s here for families. I think a few more locals came to this event than the one during Graffiti Days.”
One of those spectators was Ashcroft’s Barb Gyoba, who says she is a longtime drag race fan.
“I like anything that goes fast,” she says, adding that for many years she was a regular attendee of races at the nearby Eagle Motorplex, which closed in 2016.
“I’m glad to see drag racing back in the area,” she says, noting that it’s a great use of the airstrip at Campbell Hill. “The work put into the venue is huge, and it will just get better. I think more people will come out.”
Gyoba says she knows lots of people in Cache Creek and Ashcroft who have cars in their garages that they haven’t got up and running because a drag race site wasn’t up and running, and that the new track might encourage some of them to get their vehicles fixed up so they can take part.
One of the racers this past weekend was newcomer Sylvia Gosselin of 83 Mile House, who won the street category in her 1965 Mustang automatic.
“It’s a 289 four-barrel stock vehicle, all original,” she says. Gosselin took part in her first ever drag race at Campbell Hill in June, and says she was inspired by her boyfriend Hank, who participated in the weekend’s races in his 1971 Dodge Demon nicknamed the Screamin’ Demon.
“I’d never been to a drag race until I met Hank two years ago,” says Gosselin. “On our second date we went to the drag races in Mission.
“After watching him race all last year I thought ‘Why should the boys have all the fun?’ I thought I’d start slow, and I had a fun time in June. Maybe I’ll get a faster car for next year.”
Gosselin says she was shocked to win her category. “I just wanted to run and have fun.” She adds that the way drag races are set up means anyone can take part on a level playing field.
“You can take what you drive every day and have fun.”
Toews says that the only dampener on the event — apart from the scattered showers — was a police roadblock set up on Airport Road on the Saturday afternoon, where drivers leaving the site were stopped.
“I felt a little offended by that. It kind of put a damper on the racers. Some people thought it was good, because people shouldn’t be drinking and driving, but people were being stopped for lots of nitpicky things like having a taillight out.” He notes that there was no beer garden or alcohol sales at the site, because of safety issues.
Despite the roadblock, Toews says the event was a great success. “We did well financially and ended up in the black. We’ll be donating money to the Sage and Sands Pony Club, the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department, and the ambulance service because of all the volunteer time they put in.
“There were no emergencies, absolutely zero incidents, but having them [emergency services] there is the safest way to be. And the pony club members retrieved and bagged garbage for us, which we disposed of.”
There are no more races scheduled for this year, and Toews says he wants to meet with Cache Creek council.
“I also want to do interviews with local store owners, gas stations, and motel owners to see what sort of revenue they had on the same weekend last year compared with this year, to see if it’s a viable product to continue with. If it’s not viable for the Village and the surrounding area then maybe it’s not the right thing.”
He adds that he’ll also be talking with the Mission City drag race organization, to make sure the venuess don’t have race events going on the same weekend.
“Keep checking our Facebook page [Thunder in the Valley Raceway] to see about more events in the future,” says Toews. “If there are some, then we’ll have a schedule of events there.”