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Group of Stettler racers take part in Canadian summer drag, drive event

Event was in its third year
A pair of Miles of Mayhem racers stopping for fuel along the way. (Tavis MacDonell photo)

Four groups of racers set out from Stettler at the end of July to take part in a driving event that would see them racing on five different tracks over five days in two different provinces.

Drivers from around Western Canada began congregating at Edmonton’s Rad-Torque Raceway on July 23 to begin testing and tuning their rides prior to the week-long drag-and-drive event.

According to Stettler Magnetos president, and winner of his class, Norm Johnston, things went “Super.”

“Everyone was pretty happy,” said Johnston.

The 2023 event was the third year for it, and Johnston has taken part since its Canadian inception.

Miles of Mayhem is based on similar events which occur throughout the United States and has proved popular north of the border.

According to Johnston, the popularity of the race was no exception in 2023; Miles of Mayhem had sold over 200 spots within 20 minutes of registration opening.

“The site didn’t get shut down in time,” said Johnston, with a laugh.

Potential racers were even added to a waiting list.

When the start of the race approached, 165 teams started a journey which took them around 1,800 kilometres from Edmonton to Saskatoon, from Saskatoon to Medicine Hat, Medicine Hat to Redcliff, Redcliff to Rimbey, and finally Rimbey back to Edmonton.

By the time the racers worked their way back to Edmonton, only around 150 remained in the field.

What sets a drag-and-drive event apart from normal drag racing is that the vehicles that take part must be street-legal; they must all get to the race venues under their own power.

While tires can be changed and other modifications can be done to increase the vehicle’s speed for actual racing, all those modifications must be changed back prior to heading for the next destination. Depending on the modifications, changes could eat up over an hour or more of time before and after each race.

Racing at each site began around 10 a.m. each morning; racers were able to hit the track as many times as they wanted to try and get better times, however, there was a trade-off to running multiple times.

“The longer you stayed to make passes, the later you got on the road,” said Johnston.

After five days of racing, Johnston says that only .0024 seconds separated the top three in his bracket; his overall time was based on 27 passes.

“It was closer than it was last year by quite a bit.”

Second-year racer Steve Dahl agreed with Johnston that things went “pretty smooth” this year.

“I finished it again,” said Dahl, with a laugh.

Despite having to rebuild the engine of his truck literally the week before the Miles of Mayhem was to start after a bearing let go during the Stettler Drag Races, which took place July 15 and 16, he says he “made it work.”

“I don’t know that it’s all nice and proper, but it works,” said Dahl.

Finishing 17th of 21 racers in his class, the results were “not spectacular,” but Dahl was happy that there were improvements every run he made.

A turning point on the road was when he discovered the tune of his build “was out to lunch.” He connected with some other racers with electronic expertise who attached their computer to his truck and did a custom-tune on his engine, allowing him to shave nearly a second off between day one and day five of racing.

This help speaks a lot about why racers take part in these events, according to Johnston.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” said Johnstone.

While the 2023 event did not have as many challenges for Dahl as last year, it still through a curveball his way when the power steering pump on his truck “blew up.” Fortunately, he was able to quickly source parts and hit the road again.

SEE ALSO: Three Stettler racers take part in Miles of Mayhem Drag, Drive event

Taking part in their first race was the team of Tavis and Ken MacDonell.

“It was a hot, long, week,” said Tavis MacDonell, in a recent interview.

“It’s definitely a marathon.”

MacDonell says he and Ken were driving a 1930 Ford Model A.

While “not the most comfortable” ride, the Ford was not stock either, says MacDonell.

MacDonell noted that he agreed with Johnston and Dahl about the camaraderie.

“Tons of guys are willing to help out.”

While not a stranger to the race track, this drag-and-drive style event was the first for MacDonell.

“It’s a different style of racing,” said MacDonell.

“I can see how guys get hooked on drag and drive.”

All three racers interviewed noted that they are definitely looking forward to taking part in the event again; Dahl as he slowly rebuilds and restores his truck and MacDonell with his other racing vehicle.

Additionally, a racing group in B.C. has announced a drag-and-drive style event in the mountains in 2024 which Johnston says he is interested in checking out.

Tavis MacDonell raced his 1930 Ford Model A in the 2023 Miles of Mayhem. (Tavis MacDonell photo)

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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