Photo of Bradley McPherson and his truck, named “Emma,” at the Burnouts in the Sky charity event held at Cloverdale Fairgrounds last summer. (File photo: Kieran O’Connor/Black Press Media)

Memorial car show on move from Cloverdale Fairgrounds, where burnouts aren’t wanted

Burnouts in the Sky event organizers are looking for suitable site elsewhere

Organizers of the Burnouts in the Sky memorial car show, held at Cloverdale Fairgrounds over the past six summers, are searching for a new location to hold the annual charity event.

They’re also gearing up for a name change, to avoid a perception of “young hot-rodders being silly” at the gathering.

Susan Simning, whose son Bradley McPherson was killed at a Newton house party in 2011, said she’s frustrated that the event can’t be held at the fairgrounds next August.

“We have worked so hard these last six years to build this event and location, and to now have to start over is seriously breaking our hearts,” she told the Now-Leader on Tuesday.

“It’s putting a lot up in the air for us, and it’s kind of disheartening, it really is.”

One roadblock initially, she said, was the construction of a road through the fairgrounds – work that Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum put a stop to a month ago, on 177B Street from 62nd to 64th Avenue.

• RELATED STORY: Surrey mayor-elect vows to stop road being built through Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

With the lot ripped up and the road project in limbo, Simning said caretakers of the fairgrounds then told her that Burnouts in the Sky couldn’t be held on the site next year – with road construction there or not.

“They told us they wanted to steer away from car shows for more family- and festival-type events,” Simning said. “We are actually quite upset because seriously, how much more ‘family’ can you get with our event and festival? But they don’t want to be involved in car shows from now on.”

Mike MacSorley, general manager of Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, said the nature of the event has caused some problems at the fairgrounds.

“I have had some issues with the way they conduct their show,” MacSorley said Tuesday. “I don’t want to get into it but they are getting better every year, which is great, but it’s been a five-year process of them not doing burnouts – we don’t want burnouts on our lot.

“So when the road was coming through and we still didn’t know what it was going to look like, we said, ‘You can’t do Burnouts in the Sky if there’s a road there, period,’ so we told them to look for a new location. And if they don’t find a new location then we’ll work with them to try and get them here, but they can’t do burnouts. I think that’s pretty fair. If they can’t find a spot, we will probably accommodate her if we don’t have something else booked.”

The Burnouts event, which includes live music and a beer garden in addition to close to 200 polished vehicles on display, raises money for a scholarship in McPherson’s name. The money is reserved for high school students who struggle with attention-deficit disorder, like McPherson did, and also for budding mechanics.

The event that features the kind of cars and trucks loved and appreciated by McPherson, who was fond of doing burnouts in a charcoal-coloured truck he called “Emma.”

• RELATED STORY: For her murdered son, ‘Burnouts in the Sky’ returns to Cloverdale, from August 2018.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

At age 28, McPherson was shot to death in the early hours of Christmas Eve in 2011.

Last April, Russell Bidesi was given a life sentence for the crime, and isn’t eligible for parole for 15 years.

In years following McPherson’s death, Simning and others have planned Burnouts in the Sky as an annual memorial event for her son.

“We had the higher number of cars last year, and I think we hit just over the 200 mark,” Simning said.

“One thing is, it’s not just another car show,” she added, “and some of the car clubs have suggested we need to focus more on getting not only more cars out there but more sponsors, to help our cause. I’m told that for people with expensive hot rods who invest a lot of money in their vehicles, the name ‘Burnouts in the Sky’ is kind of a deterrent a little bit – that the perception is that it’s just a bunch of young hot-rodders being silly and not taking it seriously. So the suggestion is we play more on the Bradley McPherson Memorial Show and Shine, as a name, so we’re going to rebrand a little bit, aka Burnouts in the Sky, just to see if we can get more attention from the major-player car clubs.”

As for possible new locations for the event, suggestions have included Langley Events Centre, the raceway in Mission, Holland Park, Twilight drive-in theatre in Aldergrove and the Adesa auction lot in Richmond.

“We’re looking to stay primarily in the Cloverdale, maybe Langley area, or maybe even out to a place like Aldergrove,” Simning said. “We’re not overly fond of having it Surrey, and we’ve had a few people suggest various parks and other places there, but I’m not overly fond of that because that’s where we lost our son, right, and other people have said go to Mission raceway, but it’s such a far drive for people to go.”

Back at the fairgrounds, MacSorley said his association is “in a holding pattern” now that construction of the through-road has been halted.

“We don’t even have a place to put our work stuff, because they took our maintenance building away,” he said. “That area, they say they’ll return it to the way it was, but they removed some services, so I don’t know what that means in their eyes.

“We have people working with the city to make sure it will be usable for the rodeo, and I’m confident it will be usable – it might look a little different but I don’t think it will hurt the rodeo at all. The area is our food court, so we have to figure out to make sure we have enough power and services for the vendors pulling in. The power is still there, they’ve just unhooked some of the pods, so it’s a matter of hooking them up and seeing what they have, and if not we’ll have to bring in some generators to make sure it works. It’s a much safer place without the road going through, though.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Five Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures, including another at Panorama Ridge

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read