TRURO - Colchester County's drag racing fans won't have to travel for a dose of tire-burning action if a group of local racers get their way.
A group headed by Crowes Mills resident Sam Ward is trying to hold an event this season at Debert Airport. Currently the closest quarter-mile drag strips to Colchester are Greenfield Dragway in Greenfield, Cape Breton Dragway in Sydney and Raceway Park in Oyster Bed Bridge, P.E.I.
"It would be nice to have something local," Ward, who races on the Atlantic Drag Racing Association (ADRA) circuit with his 1969 Camaro Z28, said. "There could be big economic spinoffs for the area."
Ward said typical ADRA events attract more than 1,000 spectators each weekend and more than 300 race cars from across the Maritimes and beyond.
The Colchester Regional Development Association (CoRDA) is now working with Ward to help make the event happen, but the biggest challenge is finding a date that works for both the airport, racers and fans. The event would have to be run on a date when the airport could shut a runway down while also making sure the date didn't interfere with the ADRA schedule to allow more racers to attend. Right now, it looks like the only weekend to fit the bill is Oct. 20 and 21.
"That's a little late in the year for drag racing and Mother Nature could play a role in that," Ward said.
But he isn't fazed by holding the event that late in the season. He's been getting a lot of positive feedback from the ADRA racing community with plenty of racers saying they would still attend.
He's also encouraged by the feedback he's been getting at home. Ward and his fellow organizers held a meeting at Colchester Legion Stadium in early April and about 150 people attended. He also fielded calls for several days afterward from others looking to see how they could support the venture. The club now has 200 members.
"That totally blew me away," he said. "My phone was ringing off the wall. When you get a response like that it just recharges you and helps you get over the hurdles."
Ward said this year's event, which would likely be open to both full race and street legal cars, would be a feeling out process for the club.
The group hopes to eventually hold multiple events each season at the airport and possibly a joint drag race and car show, which have become popular festival-like events in the United States attracting several thousand people.
"But the big thing is to make ourselves self sufficient and get a timing system and everything else we need," Ward said.
That's going to take the help of some corporate sponsorship, which Ward is actively seeking.
Ward said if the club can make the event a success, everyone stands to win.
"People are going to see some good racing and the businesses are going to get the rewards of the spinoffs," he said.