By Darren Lum
COVID-19 might have caused one racing group to cancel its season at the Minden Fairgrounds, but there is still hope to hear the revving of the engines and smell the burning of rubber with a meeting on Nov. 23 between the Kin Club of Minden and a collective of interested parties made up of two racing groups and a driving school.
The meeting is expected to include a group of racers without designation, the Drive Tech Driver Training school, and the racing series LexusSPORT Cup, which may step in to fill the void left when the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs pulled the plug on their season earlier this month due to the pandemic.
Financial viability is at the heart of the upcoming negotiations, said Tom Prentice, Kin Club member.
“It’s money. That’s what it boils down to because we need to cover our costs,” he said. “That’s what it all boils down to is dollars and cents for the Kin Club.”
He hopes an agreement can be made to salvage a down year in terms of money-making events for the club, which was forced to cancel a major event for the club, the Minden Kin Truck Pull.
Prentice said it will mean a great deal to the Kin Club.
“We weren’t able to pull off a truck pull this year. And then of course the [Minden Hills Bluegrass Festival] was cancelled two years ago. So we haven’t had an event to raise any money since last winter so this is a big issue for us if we can make some money here,” he said. “We’re scared that if they don’t have the COVID under control we might not be able to run a truck pull next year so this is a real big thing. We’re really working with these groups that are interested to try and come up with something that’s doable.”
If there isn’t ice racing this year, it will be the first time in 42 years.
What precipitated the need for new clients started with an email sent on Tuesday, Nov. 3, by CASC ice race director Steve Manol.
“After many hours of consultation with all the parties involved in staffing and administrating the events, it has been decided that the 2021 CASC Minden Ice Race Series has been cancelled,” he wrote.
Prentice said CASC backed out because they couldn’t get enough volunteers, due to pandemic precautions. Manol did not respond to requests for comment following his email message.
Prentice said without the racing there won’t be important revenue being generated for the club other than ILR Car Control School.
“Our only source of income is Super TV bingo, and the truck pull and the ice racing and the winter driving. So when you eliminate the truck pull and eliminate the ice racing we’re down to that driving school,” he said, referring to what amounts to at least 30 per cent of the club’s annual revenue.
Prentice said the ice track will be made starting early in December regardless of what happens in the meeting because of an agreement with the ILR Car Control School.
“That’s been all cut and dried and approved and everything has gone through the township and approved by the township. That’s a one-on-one thing. It’s not a group of people together,” he said.
Without a racing series, Prentice said, a track that isn’t as wide for racing will be built.
The track is usually about 60 feet wide and just shy of a kilometre in distance with five turns.
Ian Law of ILR confirmed his school’s booking, which teaches drivers through theory and practical lessons on the ice track how to control vehicles during the winter. The school also provides instruction to MTO staff, federal and provincial agency employees and police.
Although the school hopes to start late-December, the tentative schedule of classes starts on Saturday, Jan. 2 and continues every Saturday up to March 6. Any overflow will be held on Sundays. Dates are subject to the weather and related to the track conditions. The school will employ COVID-19 safety protocols such as mask wearing, hand sanitizing and restricting access to indoor lessons to only instructors and students. See their website carcontrolschool.com for more information.
Prentice is crossing his fingers the club’s terms are met to book the only CASC sanctioned ice track in the province will be met. He said having other groups step in to book the facility will be a good thing.
“I don’t want to say it’s as good as we’ve had in the past, but it could save our bacon,” he said.