Williams Lake’s Donny Kunka (No. 3 car) races in the Wescar Late Model Touring Series Stop in the lakecity last season at Thunder Mountain Speedway. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake’s Donny Kunka (No. 3 car) races in the Wescar Late Model Touring Series Stop in the lakecity last season at Thunder Mountain Speedway. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Auto racing season idle amid pandemic

"We're not cancelling the season just yet" - TMS president Kane Fraser said

Auto racing associations in both Williams Lake and Quesnel are feathering the gas cautiously as they decide whether to go ahead with their respective seasons this spring and summer.

Thunder Mountain Speedway in Williams Lake, and the Gold Pan Speedway in Quesnel, are both taking a wait and see approach after already cancelling their first races of the season due to the ongoing, evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re not cancelling the season just yet,” TMS president Kane Fraser said.

“It just depends on what the province does and decides. We’re not lobbying for any special permissions, or anything, but we’re keenly watching all the updates so we can determine if and when they’re going to open it up to larger groups so we can have some fans at the track.”

Gerry Brown, president of the Quesnel Auto Racing Association, echoed Fraser’s sentiments.

“We’ve cancelled our first race, and Billy Barker Days isn’t going to happen, but we’re hoping things might open up later in the year — maybe August, September — we can get a couple events in. It’s basically a holding pattern and there’s nothing we can do.”

QARA secretary Mallary Hyshka, meanwhile, said while it is disappointing, they are still holding out hope to salvage part of the season.

“Billy Barker Days is our big money maker and we won’t get to do that, which is disappointing because we have such a great fanbase that comes out,” she said.

“We’re hoping we can make something happen for late summer.”

READ MORE: Thunder Mountain Speedway Hit to Pass a crowd pleaser

Fraser said before they are able to get back to racing several issues will need to be addressed.

“The first piece is attendance, then there’s the cleanliness piece,” he said. “We have all these spaces where people are travelling through — figuring out how often to clean things and everything else. Until the government says this is what we want you to do, or have a reasonable plan, we’re kind of handcuffed.”

He noted even if, somehow, they are able to host races without fans in attendance, more problems present themselves due to restrictions on gathering spaces.

“We run into the 50 person limit just in the pits, alone,” he said.

“One race team can be 10, 15 guys. All of a sudden we’ve got 400 people in the pits so, we’re not cancelling, we’re just not giving the go ahead until we’ve been given the go ahead.”

While drivers are keen to put the rubber to the pavement, Fraser said it remains to be seen how many cars will be competing should a season go ahead.

READ MORE: Westwick repeats as Thunder Mountain Speedway street stock champion

“Financially some guys are ready to go, and I think so are not because of uncertainty of everything,” he said.

“[Some companies] are not even bringing in the volume of tires they normally would because they don’t know if they can sell them — so there are all these little problems that come up.”

The always popular WESCAR Late Model Touring Series, meanwhile, is slated to race in Williams Lake June 13.

In an update posted on social media May 19, the WESCAR board said it is working with partner tracks, as well as tire suppliers and all involved, to do whatever it can under the current government restrictions to crown a 2020 series champion.

“With layoffs and business closures it is understandable that not everyone may be able to compete this year,” the update states.

“WESCAR would like some feedback on potential car counts for any upcoming events that may take place.”

Any feedback can be posted on Facebook at the WESCAR Late Model Touring Series page.

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Williams Lake Tribune