Mission Sand Drags – Late 80s Dirt Doings!
In the summer of 1986 drag racing in Western Canada was all but non-existent so the Mission Sand Drags came to be. Mission Raceway Park was still dealing with the government to come through with the promised funds to build a drag strip while drag boats were flying up and down the Fraser River beside the property of the British Columbia Custom Car Association.
Local sand racer and business man Al Gates came forward to present an idea nobody had thought of before – sand drags. And so, beside an existing mud bog, work started on a 300ft sand drag course on the Mission Raceway park property.
Come mid-July the facility was set for their first venture into a world few locals were experienced with.
The first event went well with enough Jeeps, trucks and buggies complimenting the booked in alcohol Funny Cars of the famed Weaver clan out of Hanford California. They were lead by family matriarch Mardell, who at the young age of 46, was dubbed the ‘Racin’ Grandma’. Having only gained her license weeks before, the amazing lady wheeled her rear engine alky Cuda to times very close to the national record.
It was at this race where a bunch of Mission drag racers put together a very unique ride in the form of a Willys gasser pickup with paddle tires. Driver Paul Owsanki from nearby Port Coquitlam teamed up with blower gurus Bill Phillips and Maz Hakida and made some great hits with Crazy Hawk. Sadly, on a late day pass the car rolled a number of times, Owsanki walked away, and today the machine still lives on paved tracks throughout the northwest.
The event went well enough that an even bigger race was planned for 1987. Race organizers stepped it up by bringing in the Top Fuel Dragsters Pipeline Express and the Fugowie of infamous Californian Butch Blair. A host of other nitro rides showed up including a small black blown dragster and nitro Funny Cars.
Unfortunately records of these races are all but impossible to come by but needless to say these guys and gals put on a great show, though sadly would never again return as soon after, work began on the paved strip.
The variety of vehicles was vast from monster mudders to altered wheelbase Jeeps and buggies the likes of which were quite foreign to this region. It all made for great memories and a small, but very interesting legacy for the famed race track.