Central Alberta Raceways (Leah Bousfield/ Rimbey Review)

Central Alberta Raceways (Leah Bousfield/ Rimbey Review)

Noise complaints lead to troubling reality for Central Alberta Raceways

Recent noise complaints and a call for a complete shutdown to Rimbey town council could spell disaster for Central Alberta Raceways (CAR).

“It was a double-header weekend, where we run drag races during the day and the oval at night,” explained Roy Keessar, president of CAR. “We have had some noise complaints before, but talking to some people, it sounds like it was pretty loud down there that night. The oval ran until about 11:45 p.m.”

Keessar said other residents were complaining that the noise lasted all day long.

“We’re not going to have anymore double-header events,” he continued. “And we’re going to start earlier on the oval, so we’re done sooner.”

CAR consists of a drag-racing strip that’s one-eighth-of-a-mile long and cars race on it in a straight line for about five to 12 seconds at a time; there’s the oval, where cars race for a set amount of laps and these races are longer and louder than the drag strip. There is also the motocross track, the mud bogs and a demo derby happens once a year.

Keessar explained that the oval is only run in the evenings, when it’s cooler on the track from the setting sun. The track is made of dirt and running under the hot sun leads to a lot of dust and it can become a safety concern.

“Hopefully the track will hold,” he said of starting their races on the oval earlier. “Most of the complaints have been later in the evening, which is the oval. The drag strip can be loud too, but it’s during the day.”

CAR is owned by the Rimbey Kinsmen Club and Phil Swanson, a member of the club, said losing the track would be detrimental.

“It would be pretty devastating for the Kinsmen,” Swanson said. “That’s our main source of generating revenue that we put back into the community.”

The Kinsmen Club operates the motocross track and the beer gardens, while the CAR volunteers operate the rest of the track. The CAR board of directors has three Kinsmen Club members as well.

“Every year, funds from CAR does filter back into the community,” said Swanson, naming several projects the Kinsmen Club has supported recently, including the Rimbey pool, skatepark, food bank, Kids Help Phone and community groups such as 4H.

“It would be a lot of money out of the community,” Keessar said if the track were to close.

“I think it could bring back a lot of street racing. It’s a safe environment at the racetrack. People think people go down there to drink and go crazy, but it’s a safe environment for people who want to compete, rather than taking those races where they aren’t supposed to. We have medics and firefighters on site. We are well covered if there are any incidents. Everything operates in a well-controlled environment.”

Keessar said the track attracts racers and spectators from across Alberta, as well as from BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and even from the US.

“There has been a lot of money generated in the community from these events. The hotels are usually full, the restaurants generate a lot of income from it, same with the gas stations or NAPA.”

CAR only operates during the summer months, and there are usually five oval events, three mud bogs, one demo derby, one motocross event and five drag events that take place during the summer, as well as a few rentals each summer, where racers want to put their car through its paces.

Work for CAR began in 1997 and it took a lot of fundraising to get it off the ground. CAR continues to fundraise for track improvements, as well.

“I encourage people of the community to come down and see what we’re all about, see how it’s run,” said Keessar. “They’ll see it isn’t just thrown together and people doing whatever they want. It’s very well structured.

“It’s a big benefit for the town, as well as the local area,” he continued. “I don’t think people realize how many local people race – I think if they knew that, they might change their mind about how they feel about the racetrack.”

Event details are available through the track’s Facebook page or website.