Track sweeper Rebecca Spafford

Rust never sleeps at drag strip

'Barn find' claims top spot in Saturday's Sportsman class at Rumble on the Runway.

PORT McNEILL—The field in last weekend’s Rumble on the Runway drag racing series featured a number of cars with spotless or decorative paint jobs.

Saturday’s winners, however, demonstrated it’s what’s under the hood that counts.

Nanaimo’s Glenn Kennedy, driving a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda sporting bumper-to-bumper black primer paint, claimed Saturday’s Super-pro class title with a win over Larry Morris of Shawnigan Lake on the eighth-mile strip at Port McNeill Airport.

Port Alberni pit partners Justin Brooks and Roger Haggerty earned the Pro and Sportsman class titles, respectively. Brooks topped David McRae of Powell River in a sponsor-festooned Chevy C-10 pickup and Haggerty beat fellow Alberni driver Logan Walcot in a 1965 Mercury Comet with rust, primer spots, missing moulding strips and a flame motif that was noticeably faded.

“This was a barn find,” Haggerty said with a laugh after collecting his first victory. “It sat in my garage for 18 years before I built it in three months.”

Where Haggerty’s Merc spent serious time in a barn, Brooks’ Chevy truck sports an image of a barn, bearing the Brooks Farm logo, among its many sponsor images.

The farm belongs to his grandmother, Dorothy Brooks, who was notified of Justin’s Pro-class win shortly after the final heat by his father, Gord Brooks.

“Grandma’s gonna build her own track,” Gord announced while still holding the phone to his ear.

Gord Brooks drove the car in the first Rumble on the Runway event, last month, but was trumped by his son last weekend.

“This was my first time on this track,” Justin said. “It went pretty good. It was a lot of fun.”

Before his Sportsman win, Haggerty’s best previous showing was a pair of quarterfinal appearances.

“It’s awesome,” he said of the race weekend in Port McNeill. “I’m gonna come back as many times as I can.”

Kennedy wasn’t even sure he’d make it this time. After transferring the motor from the Dodge Daytona he’d previously driven to the Barracuda, there was still plenty of work left on the vehicle in the final days before racing.

“On Monday there were no buckets (seats) in it yet,” he said. “My wife kept asking, ‘Are we going racing? Because I need to know if I have to get groceries.’

“My body man just got the quarterpanels on, and when I asked him how long before it was painted, he said he had a lot of other work going and it would be a few weeks. So I got six cans of flat black spray paint and on Wednesday I told my wife, ‘Get the groceries; we’re going racing.'”

Kennedy had enjoyed some success with the Daytona at other tracks on Vancouver Island, but had never won a race in Port McNeill in the four years the North Island Timing Association has been hosting racing here.

Instead, it took a partially complete car in its first race to carry him to victory.

“I’m gonna retire it now,” Kennedy joked. “It’s undefeated. I don’t even have to paint it now.”

Port McNeill’s Chris Sharpe gave the North Island a winner when he claimed Sunday’s Super-pro crown with a finals win over Mike Hutmacher of Courtney.

McRae, the only driver to reach the finals both days, bounced back from his runner-up showing Saturday to defeat Rusty Sawatzky of Port Alberni for Sunday’s Pro title; and Ron Clark of Port Alberni took home Sunday’s Sportsman prize with a finals win over Dave Deck of Parksville.