M.D. approves drag race on de-commissioned airport runway

By Rob Vogt
The Municipal District of Willow Creek has approved a request from the Lethbridge Street Wheelers Car Club to hold a drag race on the de-commissioned runway at the Claresholm airport in September.
At its May 22 meeting, M.D. council heard from Raiden Higa and Lauren Vander Woude from the car club making the request.
Higa said they would like to hold a drag race over Sept. 6 and 7.
Approximately 250 are expected, including drivers, spectators and organizers, with about 80 competitors.
Vander Woude noted in the past the club has used airports at Fort Macleod, Vauxhall and Warner. Now they want to move further north to Claresholm to entice Calgary drivers who no longer have a drag strip.
Moreover, the club wants to help get drag racing off the streets into a safe environment.
Coun. Glen Alm asked if there was one day of racing.
Higa responded that Sept. 6 will be used to set up the race, with the event happening on Sept. 7.
Vander Woude later added there will be overnight camping for the set-up crew.
Higa also explained the race will run from east to west, taking a turn right to return to the pit.
Vander Woude added the advantage of the Claresholm airport is it has a built-in return road already.
Higa stressed the club has never had an incident, but this makes the race even safer.
Vander Woude noted the club does not allow standing burnouts, as cars must be rolling, adding the sport is not about speed but driving skill.
Higa also pointed out the club will go out and sweep the runway.
Before council made a decision, they wanted to hear the opinion of Craig Pittman, the M.D.’s director of infrastructure, on whether drag racing would damage the runway.
Cindy Chisholm, the M.D.’s manager of planning and development, said Pittman has had discussions with the car club, and agreed a rental agreement will be signed.
Alm asked how the new seal coat will stand up to drag racing.
Pittman said where the club is proposing to race is de-commissioned runway. Where there is contact with the new seal coat, racing will help seal the coat.
Vander Woude said they are trying to grow their sport, so they have a talk with prospective drivers long before they hit the track.
Reeve Maryanne Sandberg asked about the noise the event will generate.
Chisholm suggested the car club run ads in the Local Press two weeks prior to the event to make people aware.
Pittman said the only other matter is ensuring the car club is responsible for repairing of any damages. He added it is important to document the airport condition before and after the event.
Council then approved the request by the Lethbridge Street Wheelers Car Club to hold a drag race at the Claresholm airport on Sept. 6 and 7.