While we must concede that the first half of Canada’s 2020 drag racing season has been a wash….things seem to be percolating for later.….

As Canada begins to waken from this COVID-19 nightmare — Canadian drag strips are doing their best to find and plan some fits.   

For sure a heavy toll has already been taken this year as some of Canada’s traditional season major races — ie:  Rocky Mountain Nationals (Edmonton) Canadian Nitro Nationals (Cayuga) – have already been deleted.

We did test the water a bit recently about what could be still coming however — with a sample focus on Mission Raceway’s deep routed Lordco BC Nationals – which is the largest annual NHRA sanctioned and Lucas Oil event held in Canada each year.

That race which is categorized as both a NHRA Pacific Northwest Lucas Oil Divisional and Lucas Oil Western Regional race – is still scheduled for September 17-20, along the shorelines of the Fraser River.   We checked in with Matt Levonas – NHRA’s Northwest Division Director from his Washington State office – for the latest information.

“Absolutely we still have (tentative) plans to hold this race on those scheduled dates,” Matt confirmed.  “Right now the planned format is like it has been for the past couple seasons.  It would be a “double header” for Sportsman racers — Thursday qualifying – Friday eliminator for event #1 and Saturday qualifying – Sunday eliminations for event #2.  For the Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Regional event — those cars would qualify both Friday and Saturday with eliminations on Sunday.”

Matt Levonas – NHRA’s Northwest Division Director

Levonas acknowledged however that with still so many unknowns being faced with regards to the worldwide Pandemic — it’s very hard to have a plan that is set in stone at this point.

“It’s obviously hard to know what the future will look like but given this race is still a few months off we’re hoping things migrate forward with less restrictions,” he continued.  “We at NHRA are fully focused on proceeding and are working closely with Mission Raceway on all aspects.  We pay a lot of attention to their viability.  Bottom line — as it can be run within all local and provincial guidelines — if the track’s intention remains to go — our intent is the same.”

DragRaceCanada has received a few racer and fan inquiries with regards to the potential complexion of this major event – given things like the position and policies of local health officials and also the very real possibility that crossing the USA/Canada border will still likely present complications.

“Right now things like social distancing restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods (for crossing the border) have most certainly logistical effects,” Matt added.  “So things do remain rather hypothetical at this point as both Mission Raceway and NHRA continue to monitor things.  Is it possible that NHRA would hold this race without fans — Yes.   Also would it be an all Canadian racer version if our US competitors cannot or choose not to attend the event – Yes.  But that type of final determination would be in the hands of Mission Raceway itself — because again their viability is of a primary concern.”

“In general I would say that in 4-6 weeks there will be a serious discussion at that time about any and all remaining issues,” Matt surmised.  “One of our top priorities is to avoid if we can any last minute event cancellation scenario.  For sure 2020 is and will be a weird year for drag racing – uncharted territory to say the least.  But our intent (at NHRA) is to do our part to get through it in whatever form we can and to reset things and come back even stronger in 2021.”

Prior to September – Mission Raceway is planning a few gradual larger event gatherings that will act as a prelude and experiment for things to come.  That includes a “Social Distancing Test Session” soon (June 27-28) with fast street cars – and including some West Coast Pro Mods.

The predicament that Mission Raceway is facing with regards the presentation of major races is also echoed exactly at other drag strips in Canada.   In the East for example, at both Grand Bend Motorplex and Cayuga Dragway there is now some talk of co-operative plans for some things around the Labour Day weekend or so?  Could Ontario fans be able to experience something significant this season after all? (….more on all that later) 

(Editor’s Emphasis!) — A most important aspect of all this however does fall directly to Canadian drag racing fans and area racers themselves.  If these race events do in fact pan out into existence in accordance with health restrictions (ie: allowing spectators) — your attendance has never before been more important.   Support your local drag strip!

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Les Puchala – Gerry Frechette – Bruce Biegler