Three Stettler area residents participated in a unique drag and drive race in August.
The Miles of Mayhem tour, which started and ended in Medicine Hat, had drivers and their cars racing on four different tracks over five days.
However, there is catch; all the cars participating needed to be street legal and reach each drag strip under their own power.
According to Stettler racers Mike Barkley and Steve Dahl, competitors began arriving in Medicine Hat on Aug.13, with equipment testing and tuning taking place the following day.
On Aug. 15, racing started for real, with the drags running all day at the city’s track. Once racing concluded for the day, racer’s and their crew switched tires over to road legal ones and hit the road for the next leg of the journey: Saskatoon.
Aug. 16, racing took place in Saskatoon all day before crews headed to Hardisty, Alta. for the night before racing for the day at Forestburg’s Area 53 Raceway on Aug. 17.
Unfortunately for Barkley and Dahl, they needed to detour to Red Deer for parts on their way to Thursday’s stop at the Rimbey track. As they were on the Q.E. II Highway near Red Deer, a deer ran in front of their truck, a 1981 Dodge D150, which they ended up hitting.
“It destroyed the (radiator) and the power steering,” said Dahl.
According to rules, if the vehicle had needed to be towed they would have been out of the race. However, thanks to the other competitors helping out, the front end of the truck was pulled out, parts were sourced extremely quickly, and Barkley and Dahl rolled into Rimbey around 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 18.
“It didn’t hurt performance at all,” said Dahl, with a laugh.
The pair were able to get their drag races in for the day before heading back down to Medicine Hat for the final day of drag racing.
According to Barkley and Dahl, they, in their second year of competition, didn’t enter the race to win, but for the camaraderie and experience.
The Miles of Mayhem is the only “Drag and Drive” event of its kind in Canada, though they are more common in the United States. Unlike the United States events, in the Canadian event teams are allowed to help each out. South of the border, once the race starts the driver and the crew person are on their own.
“We’re friendlier,” said Dahl, with a laugh.
The pair acknowledges that they couldn’t have done the journey at all without the support of community sponsors like G.T. Hydraulic, WTS, Rally Rentals, Bagshaw Electric, Heartland Auto, Kal Tire, County of Stettler Coun. James Nibourg and others.
According to the duo, around 150 competitors started the week-long race on Aug. 15 but many dropped out. By the time racing was done on Aug. 19, only around 114 racers finished.
Bracket class winner
Another Stettler resident, Norm Johnson, was the winner of the bracket class in the week long event.
Johnson was driving his 1967 Chevrolet Nova. He noted that the car may look old, but it is fairly modern under the hood with a 2005 Corvette engine and an upgraded differential. The only downside, Johnson said, was that there is no air conditioning in the car and it got very warm that week on the road.
According to Johnson, Red Deer Speed Customs donated over 2,000 bottles of water and Gatorade to help the competitors stay hydrated in the heat.
“The biggest fight this year was the heat,” said Johnson.
As far as his win goes, Johnson finished first in one of only eight categories offered to competitors, and in his own category competition was extremely tight.
“If I would have messed up, or if the car had had a failure, I would have lost first,” Johnson said.
“If you want to go, there is just about something for everyone.”
Norm Johnson is the current president of the Stettler Magnetos Car Club.