The Alberni Valley Drag Racing Association is going ahead with the Thunder in the Valley Charity Cruise this Friday, Aug. 6. The cruise has been organized in place of the annual drag races.
“COVID has made things tough for everyone and this is our way of still having some fun, providing the citizens of Port Alberni with some entertaining and raising money for two great causes,” AVDRA vice-president Dave Beecroft said.
The first is the Tseshaht First Nation’s residential school fundraiser. “They have gone through tremendous sorrow with the stories coming out about the residential school tragedies. We would like to help them out with their project to create a monument to commemorate those who attended these schools and those who never made it home.”
The second charity is the West Coast General Hospital Foundation’s emergency room expansion.
The AVDRA received approval from the City of Port Alberni in late July to hold their event, as long as certain conditions are met: such as alerting emergency services and BC Transit, consulting with affected businesses or residents, implementing a traffic plan, providing liability insurance and having a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.
Drivers wanting to participate in the cruise are being asked to pay a fee of $30 per car, which will be split between the two charities. Drivers will receive a Thunder in the Valley Charity Cruise T-shirt (for the first 300 registrants) and an event decal.
“You don’t have to have an old car to participate; it is for charity, bring what you drive,” Beecroft said.
Members of the public will be able to buy special orange T-shirts from the Tseshaht First Nation at the beginning and end of the event (Alberni Athletic Hall and Boston Pizza). Anyone wishing to donate toward the event can do so in person at Speedy Glass (3599 Third Ave.), by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the GoFundMe page, Thunder in the Valley Charity Cruise.
There has also been a challenge put out to all racers to match the “General’s” pledge of $100.
“We hope that the citizens of the Valley come out to support this great cause and cheer everyone on,” Beecroft said. There is a map of the route on page A4 of the Aug. 4, 2021 print edition of the Alberni Valley News.
Drivers are asked to arrive after 6 p.m. to register and line up. The cruise will start at 7 p.m. from the parking lot at the Alberni Athletic Hall and end approximately 45 minutes later in the Boston Pizza parking lot at 3550 Johnston Road. The route was chosen to take drivers all through the city and past the former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) site, Beecroft said.
Drivers are asked to be particularly mindful when they are driving through Tseshaht First Nation land and around the AIRS site. “Please be respectful as we circle past the site of the old residential school and do not do any burnouts or squeal tires,” he said.
Burnouts and stunting are not permitted anywhere along the route.
The drag racing association intends to start planning a racing event for 2022 “very soon,” Beecroft said.