County council to discuss contribution to CARS

Ponoka County council is debating how much money to contribute to the paving project at the Rimbey Kinsmen Motorsports Park Project

Ponoka County council is debating how much money to contribute to the paving project at the Rimbey Kinsmen Motorsports Park Project: Central Alberta Raceways. The request came in the form of an update presentation at a recent meeting.

By the end of the presentation council had decided on two courses of action. The first, to pursue a contractor and come up with reasonable costs for the asphalt project. The second was their financial discussion.

“It’s (the park) just been a package that’s come together with the community and the county like you wouldn’t believe. We’ve had stepping stones we’ve had to get to, and we’ve come across them all,” said track manager Rod Schaff.

Schaff reported on the status of the projects within the park and outlined what still needs to be done before the season opens in June. “Our major mission…is to provide a safe and exciting motorsports facility,” said Schaff.

He feels having the motorsport park at Rimbey will help keep kids off the street and keep both the town and county in the spotlight of Western Canada. “This facility is going to do that. It’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to have such as snowball effect when we get things going.”

Schaff is receiving letters of support and interest in the track, which he believes will attract new business to the area while encouraging current citizens to stay, especially younger families.

Bob Ebertz, president of Top Eliminator Edmonton, expressed in an email to Schaff that they are interested in the track. “They would like to support our track in any way they can, plus they would like to have us in their events…This is a real crowd pleaser. These cars, they’re basically all 6.9 seconds and faster,” said Schaff.

Chris Klassen, president of the Canadian Motorcycle Drag Racing Association, has also expressed interest in the park for the 2014 season.

“They can only go to certain tracks. They have to be dead smooth, as you can appreciate on two wheels. They have to have lots of run out and our track fits the bill,” said Schaff. The association’s events generally have 100 bike entries as well as other groups, such as the Nostalgia Funny Cars.

Schaff says, in central Alberta there are 50 known junior dragsters, starting with 12-year-olds, who have no place to race. “That’s the start of this. You get these kids involved and they tell their friends, now they’re not racing on the street.

“I’m seeing a problem right now, our summer might not be long enough,” said Schaff with a laugh.

One of the biggest projects of the park is the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) sanctioned track.

The first 660 feet have been completed, including the concrete launch pad. “That meets the specs of the top tracks in Canada and the United States,” said Schaff.

He said the NHRA was willing to allow a 150-foot launch pad, however, the larger one provides more safety. “But they said the big tracks, the guys who want to get the big sponsors…660 feet. So that’s what we did.”

The balance of the track’s strip is asphalt-ready, with grading and compaction. When the snow is gone a grader will come with a laser level to touch up the surface.

A pit area, where contestants would park, has been sloped for runoff and is ready for base gravel.

“That’ll be a work in progress over the years. Our major hope on that for sponsorship is a lot of guys will come in and want to purchase a pit area,” explained Schaff.

The staging area, where cars enter onto the track, must be asphalt but the roads leading to the staging area will start out as gravel. “The guys with the really low vehicles will need real good gravel, maybe Chinese pavement,” said Schaff.

Eventually he hopes to have the whole area paved and feel this is a realistic goal.

Recently a motocross track was added to the park.

“They had a professional track builder come up and lay everything out so that things were done properly and safely,” said Schaff. “They’ve been getting calls from all over Alberta to hold events for this.”

The park also holds mud-bog pit racing events and in the future Schaff wants a sprint boat racing area developed.

To entice sponsors to the park, Schaff says they need to get the asphalt laid down at a cost between $500,000 and $700,000. Ponoka County CAO Charlie Cutforth is concerned these numbers are too high. He believes TBL Construction should be looked at for the project because they do more specialized jobs.