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Elliot Lake cancels drag race event, cites lack of interest, economic losses

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The City of Elliot Lake has cancelled its annual drag racing event.

The Northern Shore Drag Race has been going on for the past two decades, and typically draws hundreds of vehicles and a thousand people.

Dan Gagnon, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the cancellation was primarily due to financial losses and decreasing interest. Gagnon said attendance has dropped in recent years.

He said organizing the event ties up municipal resources.

“The level of effort municipal staff time that needs to go into this. It’s a big, three-day event,” he said.

He said there were also changes in insurance requirements.

“We used to be able to hire a service club and provide a donation to them to do a certain piece of the logistic of the event and over time our insurers were concerned with that,” Gagnon said.

“It’s a fee for service and perhaps the service clubs aren’t insured adequately, so there was a lot of logistics.”

Gagnon said the economic boost wasn’t as significant as they originally hoped because the event was held at the airport.

“I have no doubt the economic impact for the event is great for the Province of Ontario, for grocery stores, and gas stations and beer stores from Ottawa to Wawa,” Gagnon said.

“What we see locally in Elliot Lake is not commensurate with the size and effort it takes to put on this event.”

Meanwhile in Chapleau, the township will host a drag race of its own the same weekend. Mayor Ryan Bignucolo said it was a good weekend to host a drag racing event.

“Drag racers go from one community to the next, you travel to all the different events,” he said.

“With (Elliot Lake’s) being cancelled … we took a chance and put it on that weekend because people already had it reserved for holidays and other things.”

Chapleau previously held a drag racing event in 2019 and Bignucolo said it was successful, drawing 1,000 people. He said he hopes the event this year will double that.

“I think it’s going to bring some good things to our community,” he said.

Gagnon said, while the city didn’t make the decision lightly, it is hopeful a non-profit will pick up the event next year.

The event will be held in Chapleau on the July 14 weekend. Bignucolo said volunteers and sponsors are still needed. 

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