Over $65,000 will be on the line at the Penticton Speedway to mark the start of the 53rd Canadian racing season and the opening weekend for the local track.
The Western Rattler 300 will welcome 28 drivers from three different provinces on April 29 and 30 in a “no holds barred” race featuring some of the country’s most impressive late model and street stock vehicles.
“With the talented drivers that are coming, everyone is ready to take this to a new level,” said Ingo Seibert, one of the owners of the Speedway. “We have some great local racers too that are excited to run up against all of the people coming from across Western Canada.”
For the first time in over two years, the facility is expected to welcome a full-capacity crowd. To mark the comeback and start of the new racing season, promoters are awarding over $65,000, collectively, to the top-finishing drivers over the course of the two-day event — the largest purse ever for a Western Canadian race.
Improvements have been made to the quarter of a mile track since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the installment of LED lights, an upgraded parking lot and the expansion of its existing racing lanes.
Still, Seibert knows that it isn’t the venue that sells a race — it’s the presence of some of the country’s top drivers.
“The entertainers themselves are ultimately the show,” he said. “There are world-class drivers competing here at a high level, so there’s going to be some amazing short-track racing.”
Drivers from Victoria to Saskatoon will converge in Penticton for the event, which marks the first major Canadian race in 2022.
To kick off the festivities on Friday, drivers will compete in street stock cars before switching over to late models on Saturday to conclude the event.
Tickets for the Western Rattler 300 are listed for $20. Seniors and people aged 12 to 15 pay $15, while admission for racing fans aged 11 and under is free.
People are invited to bring lawn chairs and set up their viewing experience on the speedway’s grass area if they choose not to sit in the 1,800-capacity bleachers.
“Because you can see so well from anywhere in the speedway, people can really appreciate the drivers racing door-to-door at 80 miles (128 km) per hour,” Seibert said.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m on Friday and Saturday, with racers expected to start their engines for the show’s opening at 5:30 p.m.
People interested in purchasing tickets are asked to visit the speedway’s website.