Penticton Speedway’s biggest weekend is getting bigger.
The Gordie Mannes Memorial Invitational weekend in August will be part of the Tri-City Race Series, which includes drivers from Quesnel, Williams Lake and Prince George. Penticton partners up with a series that re-ignited two years ago with the rise of the sport.
“It’s going to be a huge weekend for us,” said Penticton Speedway owner Johnny Aantjes, adding spectators can enjoy a late model invitational, hit-to-pass and Eve of Destruction over two days.
What led to this was the support the series received from South Okanagan drivers, who Aantjes said performed well. A press release stated that Tri-City officials got together and decided that they needed to thanks southern drivers in a special way. Tri-City Race Series vice-president Bill Klugh Jr. mentioned that the series should show its support by hosting a fourth race in the Okanagan. Penticton Speedway Street Stock representative, Tim Graham, wasted no time in volunteering their prestigious Gordie Manne’s Invitational held the August long weekend.
Great feedback was received from drivers across B.C., a meeting was called in November where representatives from all four race tracks met and discussed the possibilities. After a positive and productive meeting with give and take from all clubs, it was decided that the series would expand into Penticton. Find full story in www.pentictonwesternnews.com./sports.
Aantjes said there were differences in the rules that needed to be sorted out, the main being tires being used.
To keep with the tradition of the series, it was decided that the championship format would change form a three-race points total to a best three out of four. This allows drivers to choose their three best finishes, or even sit out a race for any reason, whether it be from mechanical failure or financial restrictions. The added race is not only a way to thank the southern drivers, but increase the points championship fund from $3,000 to $4,000.
Pro-activeness and professionalism amongst the four tracks to better the sport attracted outside interest in the form of a sponsor. Kane Fraser, partner in Fraser Bevz Broughton Chartered accountants, (FBB) which has charters in each of the cities generously agreed to come on board as the main sponsor. FBB has committed an additional $6,000 to the series bringing the total pay-out to $10,000. With the addition of the four track invitational pay outs and traveling re-imbursements, it brings the total up to $25,000 up for grabs across the province.
“Having their series be part of our invitational weekend is good for us and it’s good for them,” said Aantjes. “I think it’s going to be fun racing.”
The Tri-City Race Series dates back to the early 1970’s where stock car raced every weekend in one of the three towns, and at the end of the season crowned the Tri-City Racing Champion. Two seasons ago the series was re-ignited and the three clubs welcomed 12 drivers to Thunder Mountain Speedway’s Stampede weekend in Williams Lake.