The just past off-season has included some rather significant changes for Canada’s premiere “left coast” drag strip….

Mission Raceway Park, located immediately alongside the banks of the scenic Fraser River, just east of Vancouver, is undergoing a reset of sorts for this coming race season.

The long time facility (first established in 1952!) which is owned and operated by the British Columbia Custom Car Association  (B.C.C.C.A.) and sanctioned by the NHRA, has made some moves from both an organizational and scheduling perspective.  

The most pronounced changes are top down — including new management appointments that include Ralph Ehlers — President (replacing Ken Lowe),  Brian Nawyn — Race Director (replacing Wally Duperon) and Kevin Ness – Business Manger (replacing Ron Farmer – who has chosen retirement).  Mission Raceway is retaining the services of local businessman and racer Justin Bond as it’s VP.

This new managing group is shifting it’s priorities on a few fronts with the fan experience, track surface itself and season schedule all being targeted.

“First of all there will be some major new investment into the facility,” revealed Kevin Ness.  “Historically, because the track is club owned — sometimes it’s been hard to get people to volunteer and come out to help out.   So there are some spots around the track that are looking a bit run down.   Cleaning up the facility overall and returning it to more what it used to be is a high focus – because our fan base deserves exactly that.”

While Mission Raceway’s long time reputation for very fast racing surface exists, serving up numerous record quick times during it’s history, that aspect is also being addressed.   

“We do have concrete the entire 1/4 mile,” Ness confirmed.  “But last year we found out the hard way that in fact the track finish was just too smooth — and the rubber was balling up at times.  So we have now sandblasted the first 60 feet to give it more texture.  We are also investing in more “glue”.  Our Mission Raceway track has been extremely fast — at times — but our objective is for it to be consistently fast, whether it’s during race events themselves or for racer test and tune sessions.  Simply put — we owe it to our participants to have a top notch surface to go down each and every time they come to our track.”

Drag racing fans will also see somewhat of a downsizing to the feature race schedule for the 2019 season.  One of the track’s most prominent annual events in the past, the Summer Classic Funny Car feature/NHRA National Open, will not be on this year’s race calendar. 

“We’ve had to rethink our schedule too,” Kevin continued.  “Some people will be upset — but others will get it.  Both those feature races are not necessarily gone forever.   If we can get things at the track back into a good place — they could come back in the future.”

Fans can be comforted however with the fact that Mission Raceway Park will still have numerous major feature races this season including their marquee Lordco BC Nationals – Canada’s only NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Divisional event (June 20-23), “Doorwarz 7” (June 28-29) and Smoke & Thunder (Aug 23-24).

The track plans to also enhance it’s motorcycle drag racing presence with a major new Nitro Bike “gathering” — the inaugural “Intercontinental Push Rod Nitrobike Championships.”   That will take place on the July 20-21 weekend and will feature 16 of the Fastest Nitro Harleys from all over North America and also overseas.

“Overall after this reset — we are very optimistic and excited about the new season,” concluded Kevin.  “We’ve had quite a few meetings and the feedback has been positive.”

Keep in touch with Mission Raceway by linking to there official site:  HERE

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Bruce Biegler – Les Puchala – Gerry Frechette