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Sea to Sky stockcar drivers enjoy the race, the crowd and the camaraderie of Pemberton Speedway

Each Pemberton Stockcar Association race so far this season has been packed with jubilant fans watching the action.
If you have sat in the stands above the 536-metre (1,760-foot) Pemberton Speedway this summer, you know that stockcar races are more popular than ever.

Jubilant fans have packed the bleachers above the clay oval to watch the action of the three races of the Pemberton Stockcar Association so far this season.

The next race day — the season's final — is Sept. 25.

For local Danny Williams, the hundreds of spectators each race have been a welcome inspiration.

"It is awesome. It is a big difference from when I started," he said, noting there used to be 20 to 30 people in the stands.

Williams, 37, started racing about five years ago.

"Having people there definitely makes you feel like you want to push yourself and drive faster, drive harder, take those opportunities," he said.

The music, food and other entertainment aspects of the races have grown along with it.

"Even just meeting the drivers and the announcements and everything like that, we didn't use to have that," he said.

This year, tickets are promoted and can be bought online, drawing folks who may not have been before.

Williams built his 4-cylinder Hornet Class car — a 2006 white Honda Civic that he adorned with a double '0'.  

He gutted it and even built a roll cage for it.

"I love it," he said of racing.

Williams, who owns JD Mechanical, noted the drivers all support each other with help or parts — whatever is needed.

"I would give parts off anything and availability if it means that somebody is racing. That is the big thing, having the cars out there, having fun."

An exciting new addition to the race days this summer has been the new class of BC Micro Sprints that made their debut at the Pemberton track on the Aug. 22, 23 weekend.

For those unfamiliar, the Micro Sprints are open-wheel racing vehicles that look like a cross between a go-kart and a Formula One car.

"To actually be able to see them up close and personal and be able to talk to the guys... a lot of the guys are young and just have so much motivation to be racing," Williams said.

Whistler's Brian White started racing in 2019. He races in the Hornet class in his 2006 Saturn Ion.

"But all the body parts fell off over the years," he said with a hearty laugh, "So, I put the body panels from a 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo, and we named it the 'Monte Crusto,' because it is quite crusty."

White came to stock car racing quite naturally. He went to see races as a kid in Ontario, and then when he was in high school, he attended the Bridgestone Racing Academy at a race track called Mosport," he said.

But then he went off to college and took a step back from racing.

When he moved to Whistler, he went to watch some races.

"One day at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, I saw [Pemberton Stockcar Association president Colin Scott] was selling a car and so I called him and bought the car sight-unseen on the phone... and that is how I got started."

His first race, White ignored the temperature gauge and blew up the motor, but he won.

"I came first. That is all that mattered," he said with a chuckle. He repaired the car, and it is still the car he runs today.

White said that unlike some other sports in the Sea to Sky, the financial barrier to entry is actually low for stockcar racing.

"For me, the 4-cylinder class is very economical to run," he said. "I spend [less] running my racecar than I do biking and skiing. The barrier of entry is so low in terms of cost."

He says the Pemberton track is awesome because it is close by, and there is no track politics.

"It is just show up and enjoy racing."

He said if anyone wants to get into the sport, they should reach out to drivers who are currently racing.

"We are always welcoming... whether it is for a race or a season, reach out, and the community is really good about trying to find a car, and the entry point isn't as intimidating as someone might think."

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