Drag racing fire trucks highlight cancer society fundraiser

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 26, 2014

OYSTER BED - They may not have been the fastest, but two drag racing fire trucks were the talk of the town here on the weekend.

A showdown between the two eye-catching trucks, one painted pink and the other black for cancer awareness, was the main race during the Pinks With A Twist fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society this weekend at Raceway Park.

The pink 1961 four-speed LaFrance had a sizable lead at the start of the race.

However, missing a shift near the end of the track allowed the black 1989 automatic E-One to pass the 53-year-old engine for the win.

“It’s not much of a drag machine but it was fun doing it and I think everybody got a good laugh out of it,” said Barry Stewart, the driver and owner of the pink truck.

Stewart is also a member of the 2014 Relay for Life Dream Team and described the racing event as a unique fundraiser.

“A bunch of drag racers getting together to raise funds… it’s good for the cancer society and it certainly brings them (the racers) together as a group,” said Stewart.

Chris Whitlock, driver of the black truck, credited the Raceway Park staff, racers and spectators.

“Members of the drag racing community are number one,” said Whitlock. “They look after each other and they’re always there to support different causes and help out wherever they can.”

While the amount raised over the weekend had not been tallied as of Sunday evening, Raceway Park owner and operator Kevin Power said the event was considered a success.

Power said racers go out within their own communities across the Maritimes to raise money for the event, which has brought in more than $20,000 during the past two years.

“The cancer society was pretty surprised, like who are these guys,” said Power. “Obviously they (racers) put a lot of effort into it… everybody has had somebody close to them that’s been affected so they put a lot of energy into this.”

“Pinks” is a type of drag racing popular in the United States, where the race’s loser has to hand his car over to the winner.

In Pinks with a Twist, drivers have the option to bet half of their previous round’s winnings during their next race.

“We’ve never had anyone say no to betting half of their round money because it’s neat, it’s just something different,” said Power. “Then we have a lot of them turn around, take their money and just donate it to the cancer society.”

The racers weren’t the only ones raising funds throughout the weekend.

Evening events at the park included a dunk tank, small car race games and an outdoor casino night.

Sunday saw a pancake breakfast, while a giant stuffed moose was also raffled off.

Ken Hubley, chair of the P.E.I. board of directors for the Canadian Cancer Society, said the weekend was tremendous for not only raising funds, but also awareness for the disease.

“I don’t know if there’s any other events like this across the country for the Canadian Cancer Society, this is a very unique event,” said Hubley. “The visibility of the pink truck and black truck, it’s not only the fundraising but also raising awareness of the cause.”

For each $100 donated in a racer’s name, they received a ballot to win an all-expense paid trip for two to the Gator National Race Event in Gainesville, Florida sponsored by Pro Oil Change stores in Charlottetown, Moncton and Saint John.