Locals likely know the Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin is a NASCAR-sanctioned track, but they may not be aware the quarter-mile racing oval is the only such track in the region.
“It’s a very big deal,” says EIR vice-president Loretta Thiering. “We are the only NASCAR track in Western Canada, so it really sets us apart. Drivers and fans really appreciate the professionalism of the track.”
Founded by volunteers back in 1967, the track was originally dirt. In 1994 the Wetaskiwin Stock Car Club had the track paved as they wanted to set themselves apart. In 1994 Ron & Loretta leased the facility from the Club. Racers usually choose which they like more – dirt or asphalt – and don’t typically do both,” Loretta notes.
A chance meeting with NASCAR officials while Loretta and husband Ron were attending a Racing Promoter’s Conference in Reno got the wheels rolling, and by 2005, drivers were racing under the NASCAR flag.
Despite the prestigious recognition, however, the EIR remains at its heart a Central Alberta track, and a labour of love for the family, says Loretta, pointing out that EIR’s Wetaskiwin location really is ideal – central for drivers coming from Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and beyond.
“Our track is also very friendly,” she adds, noting the whole family has been involved, including their daughter, who raced for many years. “We’ve been doing this for 30 years and our kids grew up with it – we’ve never missed a night!”
Saturday is race day!
With racing every Saturday through Sept. 16 (except July 30) fields include Late Models, Thunder Cars, Pure Stocks, Future Stocks, IMCAs, hit-to-pass and more.
Among the special events coming up for race fans is the July 22 NASCAR Bayer 300, a NASCAR Pinty’s series special event that draws drivers from across Canada.
“We work really closely with the City of Wetaskiwin to promote NASCAR racing in Wetaskiwin and welcome people from all over who come stay in town and experience all the other things the region offers,” Loretta says.
Also coming up is the Western Canadian drifting night Aug. 26. “That’s going to be a really big show!”
Recognizing the importance of the community in their success, the EIR team works closely with track neighbours and plans lots of fun activities, like the Hauler Parade before the Bayer 300 – a definite favourite for younger race fans! – and special nights for groups like first responders and hospital staff.
Want to try your hand behind the wheel? One of EIR’s most popular offerings for both locals and visitors is the Test Drive Experience, providing an hour of instruction and the chance to drive 15 laps in a NASCAR stock car. Drivers, start your engines!
This business profile is part of a series from Wetaskiwin’s Economic Development office. To learn more about initiatives to grow local business and industry, visit wetaskiwin.ca/831/Invest-Wetaskiwin