Events at the Pemberton Speedway's "Don Blundell Memorial Race" this weekend will feature at least two pro teams - and both local teams to boot.
Pemberton's Cale Brooke, who races sprint cars out of the Skagit Speedway in Washington, is putting on a display at the Memorial to increase exposure for the team in the corridor, as well as to thank their local sponsors, to promote the Pemberton Speedway and Pemberton Stock Car Association, and to familiarize people with the world of sprint car racing.
"It's absolutely and totally different (than stock car racing)," said Brooke. "For starters, sprint cars are lighter and have more horsepower, so the horsepower to weight ratio is quite a bit different. It's also an open wheel car, so any rubbing (between cars) on the track generally equals all those flips you see on television."
The vehicles have a distinctive shape, roll cages and distinctive wings up front and on top that provide downforce and stability around corners, and cushion drivers in the event of a rollover. The cars have no transmission, no batteries or starter motors, and run on four tires at just three to 13 pounds per square inch. They are a different breed from most forms of auto racing and quite often a pre-requisite for many pro drivers in NASCAR and Indy.
Brooke and Paul Hopkins of Squamish, the only sprint car drivers in the area, will be putting on a demonstration race at the Pemberton Speedway this Saturday, September 26 and possibly during a break in racing on Sunday as well. They have to bring in a supply of methanol fuel to race their sprint cars and it may run out after the first day.
Brooke says he has been in racing since the day he was born into a racing family. He participated as a youth working in the pits before moving to Pemberton, and only started racing on his own three years ago when he and his wife purchased a vehicle and started a team.
"That's when everything came together. I got the green light from my wife, I was able to afford a team, and there was a good deal at the right time and we jumped on it," said Brooke. "I also got a lot of encouragement from Marty Hopkins, Paul's father that made a lot of difference."
Brooke and his team, Brooke Racing/CMB Industries, are currently ranked ninth out of 24 teams in the Northwest Sportsman Sprint category at Skagit Speedway, with a full time crew based in B.C. and Washington and a list of a dozen sponsors from Sea to Sky and around the province.
The series is serious but the range of participants runs the gamut from family teams like the Brookes to pro teams with million dollar vehicles and support. "We are not one of those teams," laughs Brooke.
The Don Blundell Memorial takes place this Saturday at 2 p.m., and on 11 a.m. on Sunday. Tickets are at the entrance and there is lots of parking available at the Speedway, located beside the Motocross Track off Highway 99.