When it comes to a need for speed, Ponoka’s Bob Ronnie of Ronnie Racing has what it takes to win.
Ronnie sped his way to a trophy at Castrol Raceways on Aug. 15 during the Hot August Night event, which usually fills the stands to a capacity, about 15,000 people. He’s been racing his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro for some years now and it’s always nice to chalk up a win.
How fast does the Camaro go on a quarter mile? About 140 mph. “It goes fairly fast.”
“We also have the S10 truck, which runs about 165 mph,” added Ronnie.
It’s a fun and somewhat legendary drag race event in Alberta that spectators enjoy coming out to. “I don’t know that we’ve missed one in the 20 years that they’ve run it.”
There’s a wide range of drag vehicles that compete at this event and there is very little room for error.
“When they get into the elimination program, it’s a situation that you win, and you carry on to the second round,” said Ronnie. Or you lose and that’s it for the day.”
It took five rounds to win and Ronnie said it was exciting to win in front of capacity crowds.
“The racers are real good. It’s not entry level,” he explained.
Among the vehicles showcased are jet cars, top fuel racers, plus there are some pro and super pro cars. “We run what they call a super pro car.”
Both the Camaro and S10 truck ran in the super pro category with Ronnie’s son Justin making it to the third round of five.
Racing such high performance vehicles wouldn’t be possible without the skills of Ponoka racing legend, and expert race engine builder, Frank Kirchner.
“I certainly have to thank him because if you haven’t got a real dependable engine you’re not going to go real far,” said Ronnie.
The addition of running on race fuel that is about 116 octane — gasoline at the pump has an octane of about 88 to 92 — Ronnie is able to push his Camaro to the limit.
These races are fast, and close; some races can be as close as a few thousandths of a second. “You’ve just beat the guy by two inches,” said Ronnie of the competitive nature of the sport.
One thing is for certain, he loves his Camaro. “We’ve been campaigning that particular car for over 20 years.”
Ronnie adds this win to his many other ones but also managed a few wins earlier in the season at Castrol Raceways.
To give the racers some support the staff from Rowland, Parker and Associates rented a bus to watch Justin and Ronnie race.
Friday night street races
Something that Ronnie enjoys about Castrol Raceways is the fact that organizers host a street legal race night on Friday evenings.
He says it’s a way to get motorists who enjoy racing off the streets and into a safer environment. Usually RCMP bring their race cars down.
“The cop cars are actually pretty quick so you may not beat them,” said Ronnie.
For the love of racing
For the last 30 years Ronnie’s been racing, and he loves it.
He developed a love of the sport when he first raced in the 630 CHED high school show down at the old Edmonton International Raceway back in 1976.