Red light a drag in Rumble finale

Hometown driver Chris Sharpe lines up opposite Parksville's Eric Shields in drag finale.

  • Aug. 29, 2013 11:00 a.m.

PORT McNEILL—Anyone who claims there are no red traffic lights on the North Island clearly missed Sunday’s Vancouver Island Bracket Finals drag races at Port McNeill Airport.

Hometown driver Chris Sharpe battled his way through a day of elimination heats to earn a spot opposite Parksville’s Eric Shields as the last two drivers remaining, only to be disqualified by jumping the gun and drawing a red light in the final heat as Shields claimed the $1,500 top prize.

“I guess I was a little anxious,” said Sharpe, who was ribbed by friends and fellow drivers on his way to the pits. Sunday’s Bracket Finals wrapped up the annual Rumble on the Runway points series on the eighth-mile airport dragstrip and threw drivers from all competitive classes together in a handicapped, head-to-head elimination format.

“That’s the fun of it,” Sharpe said. “Anybody can win this.”

That may be so, but they clearly have to go through Shields to do so. The reigning track champion and super-pro class winner from 2012, Shields tuned up for Sunday’s bracket finals by sweeping to another super-pro win Saturday in the fifth Rumble on the Runway points event.

“I like it,” Shields said of the bracket format. “It’s a lot harder, because there’s so much difference between the times. But it doesn’t chug the way I drive; I just try to stay consistent; that’s the key.”

By the time Sunday’s bracket finals got down to the final three drivers, the field consisted of one driver from the sportsman class (Port Alberni’s Ron Clark), one from the pro class (Sharpe) and one super-pro (Shields).

To illustrate Shields’ point, Clark had timed in his stock Chevy Malibu at 8.01 seconds over the eighth mile, and squared off in the semifinals against Sharpe, whose modified Chevy SS had qualified at 6.32 seconds. That meant Clark got a “head start” of nearly a second and a half over Sharpe, who was force to charge from behind to claim the heat victory.

Then came the gamesmanship.

Shields, who drew a bye in the three-car semifinal, bypassed his free run and waited for Sharpe to return to the start line following his semifinal heat win. Then, Sharpe performed an extended burnout of his tires while Shields rolled to the start line to stage. When Sharpe finally arrived at the start line, he paused again while Shields completed staging and engaged his throttle at half power to await the start.

But when Sharpe finally triggered the second staging light and started the countdown on the light tree, he proved a bit too eager and “broke out” with a huge leap off the start line that lifted his front wheels off the tarmac and triggered the red light.

At that point, Shields, who was waiting at the start line with a time-in of 5.96 seconds, was guaranteed victory and the $1,500 top prize by simply waiting for his green light and completing his run. But Sharpe still wanted to put on a show.

“I saw it (the red light),” said Sharpe. “Then, when the car went up so far, my foot came off the gas. I was laughing and trying to get back on the throttle. I still wanted to give him a good race.”

But while Sharpe struggled to get back up to speed, bouncing once more on his way up the track, Shields inexorably overtook him and pulled away over the final half of the run to cross the line first.

“It was a great weekend,” said Shields, who was presented the winner’s check and trophy by NITA president Jeff Bowell following the event.

In Saturday’s final series points event, Shields topped Ryan Trant in the super-pro final. In the pro class, Don Spencer outdueled Bowell in the final, with Port McNeill’s Tim Walton placing third. In the sportsman class, Brent Odland topped another Port McNeill driver, Larry Von Schilling, while Lynn Egan finished in third place.

The North Island Timing Association will host its annual post-season wrap-up party and awards at Port McNeill’s Legion Hall later this fall. Follow the Gazette for updates on the date and time.

 

 

 

Rumble on the Runway

Series race No. 5

Saturday, Aug. 24

 

 

 

Super Pro Class

1. Eric Shields

2. Ryan Trant

3. Chris Sharpe

 

Pro Class

1. Don Spencer

2. Jeff Bowell

3. Tim Walton

4. Chris Sharpe

 

Sportsman Class

1. Brent Odland

2. Larry Von Schilling

3. Lynn Egan

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: North Island Peewee Eagles unleash avalanche of goals against Peninsula in semi-final showdown

The two teams squared up on Sunday morning at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation takes the next step towards getting Trustee Road land

Seniors rejoice, Port Hardy council is very much in favour of helping… Continue reading

Port Hardy Volleyball club requests funding from Port Hardy council

The sport of Volleyball is alive and well in the North Island,… Continue reading

Should aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College in Port Hardy?

“I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program”

Island Health issues press release regarding Port Alice Health Centre service changes

Island Health will be hosting a community meeting in Port Alice Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the rec centre.

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Most Read