Mission Raceway Park is speeding out of their COVID slump by expanding operations. The aim is to become a multi-motorsport facility, offering more variety beyond the classic drag race.
For years, the raceway has been running the same programs focusing on the drag strip, but for the upcoming season, more road course and drifting events will be added, and autocraft races are coming back, said Jessica Armstrong, the new marketing spokesperson for the racetrack.
“We have a full calendar,” Armstrong said. “It’s just really cool to see it filled every single day of the week and have the facility being used to its utmost potential.”
Because the events at the park are fueled by spectators, the public health restrictions during COVID pandemic severely hurt the non-profit’s operations. They were limited to having as low as 10 people on the grounds at various times, despite being an outdoor facility.
That changed on Canada Day, when the provincial government gave notice that spectators were allowed to return.
“People just came in droves. It was unbelievable,” Armstrong said. “We had some club members that said … that they hadn’t seen people lined up like that since 1994.”
Mission Raceway Park is trying to keep that enthusiasm going for the upcoming season.
Every second weekend will hold drag racing, but the weekends in between will be filled in with other motor sporting events, Armstrong said.
She added the facility has the ability to hold two events at the same time, and they hope to introduce their audiences to different motor sports.
“If you come to our facility for the hot rod show, you can probably watch the road course guys doing what they do best,” Armstrong said.
Drifting was introduced to the track several years ago, and now a number of associations run programs out of Mission.
Many of these drifters double as stunt drivers in the film industry, such as Gaston Morrison, the owner of Hard Knox Stunts, and Zandara Kennedy, who has won championships. Other motor sports celebrities expected to make appearances include Chelsea Denofa, a Formula Drift driver.
Drifting and autocross events are growing in popularity in the Lower Mainland, and have the added benefit of being able to run the rain, according to Armstrong.
“That’s proven to be really successful,” Armstrong said. “We’ve got pretty good car counts for all of them.”
She said one of the corners Mission Raceway Park has to turn around is the loss of the U.S. attendees during COVID. Before the pandemic, visitors from Washington, Oregon and as far away as California would come to race at the track.
Armstrong said she’s sat in on a meeting with the National Hot Rod Association to let them know things are getting back to normal.
“I specifically told them that we don’t want to be forgotten up here,” she said. “We are a world class facility, we’re just north of the border.”