Auto Racing to Return to North of the 48 parallel
#LSN_Sports New race track under construction Oliver Piapoonge
THUNDER BAY. ONTARIO – November 19, 2017 (LSN) In Thunder Bay Ontario we are about as far as you can get from the automobile racing circuits but we have forged a rich history of competitive racing. As early as the 1920s, almost 100 years ago, automobiles took over the horse tracks and amazed spectators with their speed and the daring of their drivers.
In the fifties and sixties, one of the memorable periods of local competition, race drivers became stars in their own right and were as well known as the hockey heroes of the day. One of the legends of the time, known for his fiery personality was at some point presented with a tee shirt emblazoned with the declaration “If you don’t know Louie Tocheri you’re not from around here.” There was a lot of truth in that.
Many American racers travelled to the cities of Fort William and Port Arthur prior to the 1970 amalgamation and becoming the City of Thunder Bay. They came to challenge local racers from small towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and the Midwest states. American racers were often very successful and helped to establish a huge local fan base.
Through the years, interest and participation for the sport ebbed and flowed within the community. A high point was the opening of Riverview Raceway in 1967. This followed the closure of the track at the Exhibition grounds in the intercity area.
It always intrigued me how the opinions of a few citizens could negatively shape the building of the sport that had such deep roots in the community. Possibly it was the use of mufflers, hours of operation and dust control efforts that finally gained their acceptance.
In 2011 during a low point in Thunder Bay’s love affair with the sport of racing, an opportunity to build yet another race track was realized and work began on a 3/8 mile clay track in Oliver Paipoonge Township. This site is located just two miles from the city limits of Thunder Bay. It is close enough to the 120,000 population base of the city to draw a respectable fan following. The intersecting highway network in that area is ideal for traffic flow accessing and exiting the site.
A new track in Kenora Ontario and an existing track at Emo Ontario, along with the Thunder Bay facility offer racers the option of setting up a mini circuit within Northern Ontario. Conflicting race dates could be reduced or eliminated through scheduling.
We continue to prepare the new site in Oliver Paipoonge with the hope of opening in late 2018 for the first race on the new track. However, this is a lot like a Florida analogy where the location is wonderful but you still need to drain the swamp.
By Richard Schutte