Help poured into the Agassiz Speedway all week, in an effort to get the long-standing racetrack back in top shape for the weekend’s races.
The Speedway was hit by metal thieves sometime between the Aug. 17 races and the following Friday.
One of the directors was walking around the grounds last Friday and noticed a few wires hanging here and there. Upon further investigation, more and more damage was found. In total, director Barb tenBos estimates they suffered about $10,000 in damages — mostly stolen wiring, faucets and broken door locks.
The gain for the thieves was probably just a few hundred dollars, she said. It was a devastating discovery for the non-profit organization; they just stay afloat enough to manage the track. But that anger and frustration the initially felt has been soothed by the outpouring of support from the community.
Volunteers have rallied around the Speedway, and for the past few days they have been working to get the track ready for Saturday night’s event, the Hornet Special.
On Wednesday, electricians from Moonlight Electrical and Norich Electrical were busy rewiring, while others stayed busy cleaning up the track and weed eating. tenBos and a few others kept the barbecue going to feed the volunteers, all eager to not let the theft set them back.
“These boys have been working now for two days,” she said. “The response has been nothing short of amazing.”
This is not the first time the Speedway has been hit by wire thieves. The first time was about six years ago, when metal prices were high and theft was on the rise, said director Tom Baldwin.
That time, they buried a lot of the wire. This time, they’ve gone a step further and raised the wiring as high as possible, and hopefully out of reach from opportunistic thieves.
It’s impossible to watch the Speedway all the time, Baldwin said. Because of the noise created by the races, the track was deliberately built far away from town, at the end of Cemetery Road. The closest residents are inmates at the prisons, and there is little through traffic.
“It’s way out here,” Baldwin said. “You’d never know someone was in here.”
The Agassiz Speedway has a long history in the local race scene. It opened in 1971, when Langley still had their speedway. In 1977, the original track was paved, and in 2001, the track was expanded to be a full 1/4 mile.
“Bunk Mckay came in and ripped everything out,” tenBos said. With a crew of eight local men, they worked every Saturday from September to May to get the track ready for the Spring opening in 2001.
“We literally paved the addition three days before opening day,” she said. “We were under so much pressure to get it done.”
They’re racing to the finish line again, as cars will start to arrive Saturday afternoon for the Brad Adams Memorial Hornet Special, sponsored by Modern Tire and Towing.
“We’re more upset this time, but the stress has been minimized because of all this support,” tenBos said.
The Hornet Special is a great night for locals to catch some action, Baldwin added. It’s a novice night, and plenty of the racers are local. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. and there will be a meet and greet where everyone is welcome onto the grass where kids can have their pictures taken with the cars and drivers.
Admission for an adult is $12, $10 for seniors and youth (13-18), $5 for a child (7-12, free for children six and under, and $30 for a family of four. The track takes cash only.
For more information, visit www.agassizspeedway.com.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Agassiz RCMP at 604-796-2211 or CrimeStoppers.