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Red Deer County agrees to $50,000 air racing sponsorship

2023 Canadian International Air Race Championships coming to Red Deer airport July 7-9, 2023
Air racer Blaire “Atomic Pumpkin” Hamilton, of Cochrane, is expected to be among participants in the 2023 Canadian Air Racing Championships at Red Deer Regional Airport July 7-9, 2023. (Photo from Facebook)

An air racing event billed as the fastest motorsport on earth would be a big boost for Red Deer Regional Airport, predicts Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood.

“I think we have an excellent opportunity,” said Wood, after council unanimously approved a $20,000 cash sponsorship, as well as $30,000 of in-kind services, such as economic development, emergency management and fire rescue standby help, and peace officers to handle traffic. The City of Red Deer has also approved a $50,000 sponsorship for the event.

“What brings more prominence to our airport than to have an event like this. It is an internationally renowned world event,” said Wood. “It’s definitely going to be an economic driver.”

The races should be a boon to the area hotel industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic, he said. About 30 per cent of hotel rooms in the region around the airport are located in the county.

The 2023 Canadian International Air Race Championships is set for July 7-9 2023 and will feature Formula F1 Pylon Racers and Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) drag racers along with aerobatic display by top performers. About 500 participants are expected along with crowds of 10,000 to 15,000.

In the Nevada region, where the famous Reno Air Races are held, the event generated nearly $92 (US) million in economic impact in 2016, says background information provided to Red Deer County.

“This is obviously a big event and it’s going to have a lot of impact in our area,” said Coun. Brent Ramsay.

Several councillors said they liked that a portion of the county’s support is through in-kind donations.

“I think this is good for the county, good for businesses in Gasoline Alley and good for the people as well,” said Coun. Lonny Kennett of the event.

Since some of the contributions will include use of county first responders, Kennett asked what would happen if there was an emergency. Should that happen, Penhold fire department could respond through its mutual aid agreement with the county, he was told.

Pylon Air Racers compete head-to-head in souped-up planes on a fixed course. Flyers soar around the pylons only 15 metres above the ground at up to 400 km/h.

The STOL competition pits pilots in an aerial drag race down and back on a 600-metre course. Both events are expected to draw racers from Canada, including Alberta, the U.S., Australia and Europe.

Among those expected to participate is Edmonton’s Scott “Outlaw” Holmes and Cochrane’s Blaire “Atomic Pumpkin” Hamilton.

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Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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