Youngsters tear up the track at Alberni drag races

Four junior dragsters took their inaugural runs down Stamp Avenue at this year’s Thunder in the Valley.

Junior dragster Colson Netwon, 12, races his alcohol-fueled Billet engine at races across B.C. and Alberta—and most recently, here in Port Alberni.

Junior dragster Colson Netwon, 12, races his alcohol-fueled Billet engine at races across B.C. and Alberta—and most recently, here in Port Alberni.

Colson Newton made one of the fastest passes in the newest division at Thunder in the Valley on the weekend. He made a 7.2-second pass on his second run, and 7.8 on his first run on Saturday.

And he’s only 12 years old.

Newton, a Grade 8 student at Aspen Grove School in Nanaimo, races in the junior dragster division. He started racing in 2010.

This was the first year junior dragsters were invited to compete at Thunder in the Valley, AVDRA president Bill Surry said. Four cars registered and three ran up to five passes over the weekend.

“One kid qualified for the wakeboarding nationals so he didn’t come and race,” Surry added.

Newton’s dragster typically runs a 7.9-second eighth-mile course. He runs an alcohol-fueled Billet engine and competes at Mission Raceway in the Fraser Valley as well as Edmonton.

Colson gets his racing genes from his father Lyle, who brought his top fuel nitro bike to Thunder in the Valley to display it (the eighth-mile course on Stamp Avenue was too short for the nitro bikes to race).

Lyle spent three years racing the IHRA circuit in the United States. The bike he brought to Thunder in the Valley is a record-setting bike: Jay Turner set a national record of 6.24 seconds in Bradenton. Fla. last year.

“Now we’ve come back to Canada and we’re going to ‘drag’ Cole around Canada and race,” Lyle said.

Colson started wrenching with his father, and says that’s one aspect of racing that he loves.

“I like going fast, I like the people and I like the wrenching,” he said.

He does his own “monkey wrenching”, changes his own oil, does the fuel and tire checks at the races.

Lyle Newton appreciated the fact Colson was able to compete an hour away from home.

“Usually where we go is where we run our nitro bikes, and they run the juniors. We go to Mission because it’s so close,” he said.

With room to accommodate 16 dragsters in a full class, Surry said the AVDRA will host them again.

“Most definitely, they’ll be in the full event from now on,” he said.

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