Street stock, bone stock and pro mini auto racing provided fast-paced entertainment Saturday at Thunder Mountain Speedway.
The event featured TMS’s Christmas in July — a food collection and fundraiser for the Salvation Army and also fan appreciation night at the track.
Wendy Frederick was on hand to represent Dairy Queen, who sponsored fan appreciation night by handing out free, refreshing Dilly Bars — a cool treat on a warm, summer evening.
Chip Schick from Williams Lake Forestry and NAPA Auto Parts, meanwhile, sponsored Christmas in July.
“The Salvation Army helps out people who need it, and we like to help them do that,” Schick said. “The community supports us, and we like to support the community.”
At TMS, fan appreciation is very important, said president Bob Lowen.
“Without the fans we’re a bunch of rednecks having fun,” he said.
“It’s so cool to look out and see a big crowd enjoying the entertainment and the excitement — it adds an extra kick and makes it all worthwhile.”
Something else that makes racing meaningful at TMS is how racing can be carried from generation to generation, Lowen added.
One example is the Fisher family, where four generations took to the track: great grandfather Wade, grandfather Greg, father Jesse and now son Damien.
“It’s not unusual,” Lowen said. “It gets in your blood.”
It’s also not unusual for a fan to turn into a sponsor, something deeply appreciated by racers and the speedway.
“For a lot of sponsors it represents a direct tax write-off and good advertising, but it’s more than that,” he said. “It’s cool, and they often have some connection to racing or just really enjoy it.”
The next race at TMS is the Doug Larson Memorial, West Coast Vintage Racing and Mini Special on Aug. 10.
Lowen said Larson, who passed away a few years ago, was a huge supporter of the open wheel or super modified class.
“Back then there was the CAMRA series (Canadian American Modified Racing Association), and this upcoming event will feature cars that formerly raced in that series,” he said.
“All those vintage cars lying around forever are being brought up and restored by retired guys. We wanted to hold this event last year in Quesnel, but the fires happened.
“This year it’ll be a two-day event: Friday night here and Saturday afternoon in Quesnel — a total blast from the past.”
He said currently there are 25 vehicles registered, with 30 expected by race time.
Racing fan Sunny Dyck, meanwhile, has turned a long-time love of auto racing into a highly-satisfying volunteer experience.
For the past 10 years she’s been helping out at TMS, enjoying every moment, every adventure and every new connection with people at the track.
“This is a very family-focused sport,” Dyck said. “If you’re here, you’re family.”
For her, it isn’t summer without racing.
“That opening race is the start of summer: I love it. Our whole family volunteers up here.”
Racing fans mean absolutely everything, Dyck said, who added they are the key factors.
“I’m involved with a lot of sports with enthusiastic fans and the track is no different,” she said. “We have some of the best fans in the world at the track … it’s so awesome to see people up here who’ve been coming for years, and now their kids come, too. These aren’t just people who bought a ticket and came for a race. Fans are part of the track: they’re the reason things keep going and the reason things are fun.”
Dyck, who is a prolific volunteer in the community, said the track is definitely among her top three favourites.
“If you’re looking for somewhere to volunteers this is it,” she said, adding that it’s a great opportunity for families.
“My son, now 16, started helping out when he was 12. It’s priceless for a mom and son to volunteer together — especially today. It gives you something amazing in common and is so exciting to watch the amazing skill development.
“He went from a bit shy to someone who can take charge and be confident in conversations with people of all ages. That’s a life skill. His communication skills improved, he got a feel for how business runs and saw real-time management behind the scene.
“The track is a good summer of ‘feel good,'” she said. “Come be a fan; stay and be a volunteer.”
Christmas in July and Fan Appreciation Night Race Results (top three)
1.) Gord Bettles – best lap: 18.370
2.) Damien Fisher – best lap: 18.784
3.) Brian Bettles – best lap: 19.391
1.) Gord Bettles – best lap (18.329)
2.) Damien Fisher – best lap (18.882)
3.) Brian Bettles – best lap (19.606)
1.) Mark Grant – best lap (20.647)
2.) Ryan Grant – best lap (20.390)
3.) Steve Panta – best lap (20.139)
1.) Tristan Waslen- best lap (19.715)
2.) Tim Taylor – best lap (19.313)
3.) Evan Fontaine – best lap (19.698)
1.) Tristan Waslen – best lap (19.413)
2.) Tim Taylor – best lap (19.633)
3.) Steve Panta – best lap (19.567)
1.) Tim Westwick – best lap (17.347)
2.) Darren Lemky – best lap (17.613)
3.) Kane Fraser – best lap (19.030)
1.) Darren Lemky – best lap (17.784)
2.) Tim Westwick – best lap (18.021)
3.) Kane Fraser – best lap (18.106)
1.) Darren Lemky – best lap (17.864)
2.) Tim Westwick – best lap (17.859)
3.) Gord Bettles – best lap (18.297)
1.) Kane Fraser – best lap (17.518)
2.) Darren Lemky – best lap (17.728)
3.) Tim Westwick – best lap (18.129)