Mud racing cruises into Merritt for possible annual event
The array of local summer events will get a jump start on Saturday when the North West Mud Racing Association brings some of the fastest cars in Canada to “Merritt 2012” for a two-day family event.
“We have wanted to host this event in Merritt for a long time now,” said Track Co-ordinator and racer Curt Morben. “We’ve been focused on Merritt and now we finally have a piece of land. Merritt is the most central place in B.C.”
He said cars will reach 2,000 horsepower, some able to travel 200 feet in just over two seconds.
Sand dragging pits are side-by-side for the high-powered show, with vehicles worth up to $80,000.
“The only place where you’d get to see power like this is if you went to a drag strip somewhere,” Morben said. “Many of these drivers spend years and years putting these cars together.”
Between 50 and 70 drivers are expected to attend, along with a slew of spectators.
“There is a lot of excitement in the community,” said Morben, who has been in town building the track for several weeks. “A lot of people are talking about this and everyone, including the City [of Merritt], has been extremely supportive.”
NWMRA has hosted events throughout B.C. since the late 1980s. Like its five other races throughout the province, the event will be for points in the association’s professional racing series.
Winners will also receive a trophy and money.
“It’s our intention to make this an annual event, as long as we can keep the land,” Morben said.
The event features a 1968 SSL El Comino, a rare breed. Even rarer due the the fact that it’s been lifted and modified to include tractor tires.
The fastest vehicles will race in the sand pit.
“We also have the mud racing pit for five more competition classes,” Morben explained.
“This ranges from street stock right up to modified nitric oxide racing classes, including a class for vehicles that have tractor tires on them.”
The newly created Merritt track is now the only B.C. location that offers the various tracks, as well as a bog pit.
“That’s for people who really want to get into a mud hole, but that is not part of the competition race.
“Some kids like to go into the woods and find a mud pit. We’ve built one of those at the track.”
The stock class will feature vehicles that can compete as long as they are legal on the road.
Morben will race with Jack Maunu, the only local racer registered.
He’s hard at work getting his two vehicles ready.
“We’re trying to get another car going,” he said on Tuesday, noting he’s been waiting for the event to come to his home turf for a while. “Everyone’s been really excited about it coming here. This is going to be good.”
Maunu has been racing these events since 1991.
Races will be held at the West Gate Lower Bowl on Midday Valley Road, the former location of Mountainfest.
People can bring lawn chairs, which they can place on the terraces to watch.
Races start at 2 p.m. Saturday, and noon on Sunday, running for between four and five hours each day.
A concession will be available.
Ticket prices weren’t released by press time.
NWMRA is also scheduled to host events this year in Quesnel, July 21-22, Valemount, Aug. 4-5, Chilliwack, Aug. 18-19, and 100 Mile House, Sept. 1-2.
The association has featured races on BCTV, now GlobalTV.