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100 Mile airport runway to be converted into drag strip for races this summer

The District of 100 Mile House has lent support to the organizers of the B.C. Drag It Challenge
Mark and Dianne Boutilier have gained the District of 100 Mile House’s support in bringing the B.C. Drag It Challenge to 100 Mile House this summer. (Photo credit: Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)

100 Mile House will host the B.C. Drag It Challenge this summer, after council approved a request from B.C. Drag It Challenge organizers Dianne and Mark Boutilier to use the 100 Mile House airport as a drag strip on June 17. The event will run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We are so excited to bring drag racing to 100 Mile House,” Dianne says. “We have been asked by the 100 Mile Cruzers Club to bring a drag race to the community.”

The Boutiliers have organized drag races for several years, with Mark serving as race director in Port Alberni, Mission, and most recently Cache Creek. He says they had originally planned to run the races to coincide with Hot July Nights, but decided the town would be too busy to host both events. He estimates the event could draw about 100 racers to 100 Mile.

Coun. Ralph Fossum asked if there was enough space near the airstrip to allow for spectators. Mark said they have already secured permission to use the South Cariboo Rec Centre’s parking lot as a spectating area and will have access to their washroom facilities.

“I’m delighted to hear of the possibilities of people bringing events to our community,” Fossum said. “When I think of drag racing I think of squealing tires on our airstrip, and I’m wondering if it would be a disfavour to our airstrip?”

Todd Conway, district director of community services, said 100 Mile’s airport manager and members of the 100 Mile Flying Club share similar concerns about the impact the race could have on the airstrip. He noted that several cracks mark the runway and that they are sealed every year with tar. He did not know the age of the airstrip, but said it was very old.

“Another concern we had was access to the hangars for all the people who store their planes there. We are going to make sure those pathways are open,” Conway said.

Mark said the drag race will not damage the airstrip, adding that the most that could happen is the build-up of rubber on the asphalt from the cars “burning out.” If this happens, he said they will use a tiger torch and a metal scraper to remove the rubber.

“There will be black marks left because of the racing but it will not be detrimental,” Mark said. “Drag racing does not grab the pavement and throw it away.”

Coun. Donna Barnett said she reached out to the Cache Creek Regional Airport, where the Boutiliers ran a drag race in summer 2022, and they confirmed there was no lasting damage.

The Boutiliers will provide specialty insurance to cover the racing, on-site first aid, security, and parking attendants, and will follow safety standards set by the National Hot Rod Association. Dianne said she plans to approach local non-profits for the concession and garbage disposal, while Mark hopes to use local high school students to help manage security.

Conway noted that District staff will not be available to help with the event, as they will be facilitating the 2023 Grad Parade. The Boutiliers said this will not be an issue.

Following the presentation, council voted to approve the request with conditions set by the District.

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