While there is a slight upside – it won’t be all the news that Western Canadian drag racing fans have been hoping for….

Reality will bite Alberta’s drag racing scene once again this season with the forced cancellation (again) of some major season highlight races at Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway for 2021.

For drag racing, we can now confirm that the 2021 edition Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals as well as the Hot August Night events will not be on the track season calendar this year. That will mark the second consecutive year that both those tradition rich/feature car orientated shows will be absent.

“Officially announcements for the cancellation of Rocky Mountain Nationals, Hot August Night (and also Monster Truck Throwdown) will be made later this week,” said Kim Reeves, who with her husband Rob are Castrol Raceway’s exclusive owners. “We have been lobbying long and hard to the AHS (Alberta Health Services) but with less than 40 days before the official start of racing for our season — we have deemed it necessary to make these exclusions. The ongoing unpredictability for spectator capacity limitations (per AHS) have made big speciality events like that unfeasible for us. At this point, if things were to even go our way — with say 25-35% allowed spectator capacity — the events still would be unviable for us. They need to be at 100% fan capacity to make financial sense. Thus they all will be suspended once again until 2022.”

But for 2021, Castrol Raceway’s drag racing schedule does include some more positive trends with return of and the amplification of some of it’s regular racing on a more frequent basis. There are also some plans being drawn up for a couple larger but tempered events which may possibly proceed — with limited fan capacity.

Castrol Raceway’s marquee Top Eliminator Club (featuring Top Dragster and Top Sportsman cars) will return in 2021 with 5-6 races as will “Cash Is King” with three races. The area’s ET bracket racing base will have a season long track championship chase to pursue and the CMDRA will host an all motorcycle drag race event in late August.

On a positive note – after sitting out all of 2020 – Castrol Raceway’s dynamic home product – Top Eliminator Club – will return with a 5-6 race schedule this coming season.

Kim and Rob Reeves also did confirm that a NHRA National Open race (featuring some NHRA classes) is again in a discussion stage (in lieu of the Rocky Mountain Nationals weekend) — however that exact format and presenting sponsor is still under review with NHRA’s Division Six office.

Another NHRA Division Six National Open date for 2021 is a strong possibility

“In the event we are granted permissions to enhance the existing AHS Guidance (currently only 200 Fans) we would host race centric events,” Kim continued. “That could be a scaled down “show” – possibly including a few Pro Mod, Funny Cars or Jets. In lieu of Hot August Night we would host a NHRA TV and KOTT “Wally Weekend” — a “Saturday night special.”

Some limited opportunity for local Funny Car and Pro Mod racer appearances is also being examined.

Castrol Raceway track management has been very involved and diligent with regards to communicating with and adhering to AHS guidelines. All their staff and services support are designed for safe re-opening and operations this season within what will be allowed.

And Castrol Raceway continues to work with the Alberta Coalition of Motorsport Facility Operators and motorized recreation event organizers within an appeal process to the Alberta Government and AHS. Simply put — the argument is that they should be aligned with existing AHS guidance and protocols for outdoor recreation – which would allow theoretically social distanced up to 35% capacity for grandstand areas. But so far, that group does remain frustrated with the Alberta Government’s response or reaction within that education process.

“It been a bit of a nightmare,” Kim added. “We are currently labeled as “racing” for an industry sector — but that’s mixed in with historical industry guidance for “racing” being exclusively for horse racing and casinos. We’re arguing that Motorsport facilities “should” be classified as outdoor “Events & Recreation” — and that has been and remains a tremendous uphill battle. But we are making every effort to move forward.  Our vast outdoor space, seating capacity, public amenities, and professionals proficient for hosting produced events does give us some optimism.”
As of today — a big hurdle and sticking point remains within the staunchly enforced AHS hospitalization benchmark. In Alberta opening is NOT permitted until a 300 hospitalization benchmark is achieved combined too with a downward trajectory.

Castrol Raceway track owners — Kim and Rob Reeves

To keep abreast of the latest news and drag racing event scheduling at Castrol Raceway visit their official: HERE

Posted by Bruce Biegler