The Pemberton Stockcar Association (PSA) got its season underway with a grudge match at Pemberton Speedway on the weekend.
Not only was it a chance for drivers to settle any lingering rivalries heading into the 2017 racing season, where new ones could be formed, but it was the first chance for the newly revamped track to have some new features tested.
Over the winter, Corners 3 and 4 were rebuilt, while new coats of paint were added in other areas to spruce up the place.
As well, the PSA improved its wheelchair accessibility to get people into the stands safely. Some of the seating was also replaced.
"We did some work on the spectator area and the grandstands for ease of access. We've done a major facelift this spring to the track," president Richard Den Duyf said. "We want to create some new enthusiasm and create some new fans."
On the track, vice-president Dave Hennessey explained the corner rebuilding is the continuation of a two-year process to improve the course.
"The two corners were different degrees of steepness, so last year, we rebuilt Corners 1 and 2 to bring it to 12 degrees from about 15 or 16. What that does is provide better racing. It allows us to have two lanes of racing instead of just one lane. It's much easier on the track surface because if it's not as steep, the cars aren't racing as hard on the corner," he said.
"This year, we did Corners 3 and 4. The reasons we did that are twofold, to decrease the track maintenance and improve the racing. We can have more side-by-side racing for the entire event. In the past, it would go down to one-lane racing," he said. "It would be a follow-the-leader sort of affair."
Den Duyf added the changes should result in some racing that's not only more exciting, but safer as well.
"You get more passing and more excitement and it's a little bit safer because you have cars side-by-side instead of somebody getting frustrated in behind, maybe, a slower car and eventually bumping them out of the way," he said.
This past weekend suggested that this year should be an exciting one at the track.
"It was a good test for the improvements on the track. Everything we worked towards proved to be everything we were working for. There was less track damage, and better racing thanks to the track improvement," Den Duyf said.
The track is attracting racers from everywhere between Squamish and Lillooet, including Whistler, Devine and Birken. Later in the season, some drivers from the Lower Mainland and Merritt come up to race.
"I don't know if we can actually say it's grown, but it's shifted," Hennessey said. "It's had a different slew of different executives and different groups of racers go through."
The first official race of the season is on May 13 at 4:30 p.m. There is no admission charge for that race while admission for the rest of the season is $10.
In addition to stock-car racing, there will be four weekends of motorcycle events with the first being May 27 and 28. The 4x4 rebels will be by on June 3 and 4 as the PSA looks to bring a variety of fans to the track. More information is available at www.pembertonstockcars.com.