The people of Quesnel love their sports and many of us have a special place in our hearts for competitions where loud, powerful motors are involved.
We go wild for stock car racing, can never get enough motocross and do not get us started on how much we love Crash-to-Pass.
A couple local gear heads are thinking there is plenty of room for at least one more motor sport in our collective hearts.
Wayne Wark and his friend Charlie Kimmie want to bring lawnmower racing to Quesnel.
This is no grass cutting competition, however. These machines can go!
“It’s a real crowd-pleaser,” says Wark. “Every event we’ve competed in, the crowd is just into it so much.
The retiree says he thinks it is because of how up close to the racing action spectators can be.
Instead of taking your binoculars to the track, audience members can get right up to the fence.
Wark says the ease-of-entry into competition is another major draw.
“If you like to race, it’s a very economical way to enjoy racing.”
He and Kimmie have built two vehicles each and Wark says being retired has helped them devote the time necessary to piece them together.
“The dollars that you spend on them isn’t that much but they take a lot of hours.
“There’s a lot of labour that goes into building one,” he says. “It’s something that takes two or three months of work.
“So that’s why I’m trying to get the word across this winter, so come spring, we’ve got some [tractors] ready to go.”
To further whet the appetite of locals, Wark and Kimmie have approached Alex Fraser Park about holding a test event on their outdoor rodeo grounds this spring.
“When it dries up we want to have a little bit of a play day,” he says. “We’ll get our tractors together and if people want to come by and take them for a little ride just to see how they feel like and how they drive, they would be welcome to.
“It will help give people a little more insight into what they’re getting into if they want to get involved.”
100 Mile House held their first ever lawnmower race event last year and Wark says it was extremely well received.
“They were just blown away,” he exclaims.
“Most people had never been to a tractor race and we showed up with ours that go pretty quick and they were amazed.
“None of them ever dreamt that there was going to be speed like that involved.
“After we were done down there, we know there’s a whole bunch of people building them for next year.
“It’s that first year that you’ve got to get people interested.”
Charlie Kimmie is eager to race in front of a home town crowd.
He says the feeling of pushing the lawnmower to the limit is exhilarating.
“You get out on the track and the adrenaline’s going and you don’t even know what’s going,” he says.
“Even when I rolled it up and off the track, it wasn’t until I got back to the pit that it really hit me.”
If all goes well at the demonstration, the men are hoping to hold races as part of Billy Barker Days this summer.
The one hesitation Alex Fraser Park has is tractors tearing up their precious ground. Wark does not think that will be an issue, however.
“You’ve got to remember they’re running turf tires that run over grass and when we race we disturb about the top two inches of the ground,” he says.
“When horses are barrel racing, they’re going down a foot when taking corners, while we’re just running right on the top surface.
“I understand that there’s a lot of money spent on the rodeo grounds by the Alex Fraser Park Society, so that’s why I’ve said we’ll get a demonstration going and then they can physically see what it’ll do to their dirt.”