A handful of Agassiz students kicked off their school year at full throttle.
Even though classes only started last Tuesday, the drag racing team at Agassiz elementary-secondary school was already back in the driver seat by Friday.
They gathered in the morning to load up their car — a black 1982 Camaro Z28. Their plan? To check in at Mission Raceway, do a few trials, and race in the High School class.
It’s a special class with rules to keep the kids safe, while offering all the excitement of drag racing.
At the wheel was Jesse Brewer, 17, a first time race car driver who just earned his ‘N’ license over the summer. While he said he wasn’t nervous to be out on the raceway for the first time, he did get up just a bit earlier that day.
Unfortunately, said teacher Tyler Yost, there wasn’t enough staff at Mission last Friday to allow the High School class races to run, so they focused on testing and tuning the car instead.
“Things went really well for us at the track,” he said. “No mechanical problems and Jesse’s track times were very consistent.”
AESS has been racing their Camaro since February, previously with now-graduated driver Aleisha Elsworth. The program wouldn’t be possible without support from the community, Yost said, racing and otherwise.
The car itself was donated by Rick Pearson, who was towing the car for the team on Friday. Other sponsors of the program are Fortin’s Automotive, James Johnson Ent., Lordco Agassiz, Remax Agassiz, Modern Tire, the Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart, Mackenzie Racing, the Hatt family, Black Dawg Welding and UFV’s auto body program.
The strong support for the team is proof that the program makes a difference in the students’ education. Each student has a job to do at the track, as part of the pit crew. They’ll run three to four races on a regular race day, if the driver is consistent enough.
“The main thing is, most kids are into cars at their age,” Pearson said. “And if they’re into fast cars it’s better to do their racing at the track, not the street.”
It teaches them respect for the vehicle, said Pearson and Yost, along with the safety aspects.
On the quarter mile drag strip, the High School class drivers aren’t allowed to go faster than a 12 second race, and most stock cars can’t race that fast anyway.
There is also a handicap system in place, allowing any car access to the race program. That eliminates the need for a fancy budget for a high school program to keep operating, he said.
“You could go down there with your mom’s car,” Yost said. “What it comes down to is driver ability.”
But the kids at AESS will stick to their modified Camaro.
he High School class is a recognized National Hot Rod Assocation (NHRA) and International Hot Rod Assocation (IHRA) Elapsed Time (ET) or Bracket Style drag racing class. To keep tabs on the High School class races, visit www.missionraceway.com.