Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Dragway becomes part of national track system

Victoria Junction track is now a member of the National Hot Rod Association.

Certification means track could attract drivers from Ontario, Quebec and northeastern U.S.

Cape Breton Dragway has become a certified member of the National Hot Rod Association and is in the process of becoming sanctioned for Division 1 events that will feature drivers from Atlantic Canada along with Quebec, Ontario and Maine. (Submitted by Jamie McDonald )

Drag racing fans in Atlantic Canada should buckle up for more competitions in the region.

The Cape Breton Dragway in Victoria Junction, near Sydney, N.S., is now a member of the National Hot Rod Association. 

The certification means the track could soon attract drivers from Ontario, Quebec and northeastern parts of the United States. 

Jamie McDonald of Reserve Mines has been a fan of motor sports for most of his life. 

"The noise, the power, the smell of rubber … I mean there's something there for anybody. If you're a gearhead this is where you want to go."

Will help put Cape Breton in the map

McDonald said the track will help put Cape Breton on the map, as competitive drivers spread the word about the island on the racing circuit. He said their presence could fuel growth of the sport on the island as well. 

"For the Cape Breton drivers to be able to compete with some of the best on the East Coast is very big," he said. 

"I think it's going to be tremendous. I honestly cannot wait to see where this goes."

Drag racing originated in the United States and usually involves two people in automobiles or motorcycles who race side-by-side aiming to be the first across the finish line.

Both elapsed time in seconds and final speed per hour are recorded, but for most events the winner is simply the first person to cross the finish line.

Drag racing a decades-long passion in Cape Breton

A group of enthusiasts formed the Cape Breton Drag Racing Association four decades ago. For 15 years, they held races at the JA Douglas McCurdy Airport in Sydney. In 2016, they bought land and eventually started a track of their own. Although the track has been given an NHRA membership, it has yet to be sanctioned for Division 1 events, although approval is expected.

"After 40 years we're still growing," said the group's president Gary Pozzebon. "It feels good to reach that goal. [This membership] is going to be good for attracting more people to come the island in the summer months." 

According to the NHRA, Cape Breton will join the association's Division 1 track group which includes 18 tracks across both the U.S. and Canada.

Racing flames decorate a vehicle used for drag racing at a track just outside of Sydney. (Submitted by James McDonald)

Pozzebon said the drag racing association has been working with the NHRA for several years now.

Currently, there are about 100 people who regularly race at Cape Breton Dragway, including families who often attend events together. The current record at the 201-metre track is held by Blaine Marsh of Millville, N.S., who finished in 3.927 seconds at 288.55 km/h. 

"We have some of the faster cars throughout the Atlantic provinces show up," said Pozzebon. 

"There's regular cars and there's 'souped-up' cars, and there's several different types of chassis." 

Pozzebon said he hopes future Division 1 competitions will bring a boost to the track's finances, which took a significant hit over the last two seasons. 

Instead of operating at a capacity of about 2,500 spectators, Pozzebon said they could only accommodate 250, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Pottie

Reporter

Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at erin.pottie@cbc.ca.

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