Changes are afoot at Saratoga Speedway.
After 40 years under the same ownership, the Black Creek racetrack was sold in June, changing hands from the Hargrave family, to Rob and Lee Leighton.
While the pandemic stalled this summer’s racing, newly hired managers Pat and Carol Monsigneur say there’ll be wheels on the track over the Labour Day weekend.
The Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick GMC Dash for Cash Shootout will see drivers racing against the clock for cash prizes.
To follow provincial health guidelines, Pat says there’ll be some COVID-related wrinkles.
“We’re going to do this in a couple of different sessions, if you will,” Pat said. “So we’ll do two sessions a day for two days and possibly the third day. That’s all COVID-related, 50 people, nobody in the stands, no spectators.”
However, they’re looking to work out some technical kinks in order to live-stream the racing on Facebook.
Pat said it’s a way of getting drivers back on track.
“If you, yourself, have built a race car, and you’re getting ready to race at Saratoga Speedway, you don’t know what your race car’s doing yet. You need to get it on the track, you need to tune it in, you need to fix things, you need to test things, you need to test the driver, if you’re going to drive it (yourself), you need to find all your marks on the racetrack and find out what your car is doing so that when racing happens, you’re ready for it. You know what’s coming, and you know what you might have to change or do during the race.”
After Labour Day, a transformation begins.
“We want to do a full season next year, but it will be on a slightly different track,” Pat said. “The track’s going to undergo some changes, mostly safety orientated. We’re (also) working closely with the (Comox Valley) Regional District to create an RV Park at the Speedway so people from all over Western Canada can come and join us and camp, and gain access to everything that the Comox Valley has to offer touristically.”
Other new features in the works include a revamped kids playground, a potential splash park, new time clock, and a reimagined, purpose-built go-kart track separate from the main track.
The infield should look different, in a few months, too. They’re looking to build at least 60 pit pads for the racers and a safety barrier both in the infield and outfield of the track.
The hope is that it’s full speed ahead by next spring.
“As many classes as we can get in, we’re working to see if we can get the monster trucks back, some of that kind of entertainment, some of the novelty races, but we’re working on those things and we want to do a full season next year,” Pat said.
Racing school for kids and big kids
Meanwhile, Carol said their racing school is open for business.
“We start as young as 10 years old so they can still do that on the track if they want to come out,” she said. “We have the cars, they’re on the track. We have the instructor. They just need to go on our website and register.”
Pat said it’s open to adults of all ages, too.
“We’ve got fathers and sons, moms and daughters, 10 years old to 70 years old.”
You can find out more information here.