Civic pride takes a ride on the two-lane blacktop

Soldotna, Kenai mayors to put pedal to the metal at drag races in Soldotna

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2000

The rivalry between Kenai and Soldotna will heat up Sunday as the mayors of the sister cities go door-to-door down the drag strip at the Soldotna airport.

Despite the home court advantage, Soldotna mayor Ken Lancaster will have his hands full with Kenai mayor John Williams, who built and raced dragsters as a youth in California.

"I did a little of that and a little oval track racing," Williams said earlier this week.

Williams will compete in the best 2-out-of-3 series in a 1950s Silver Hawk Studebaker on loan from Don Petroze.

Lancaster will take to the track in Happy Bear, a Bill Banta-built 1936 Chevrolet pickup.

Though Williams has the experience of his past behind him, Lancaster has been on the track more of late.

Race organizer Wendy Hudson of the Drag Racing Division of the Cook Inlet Lions Club said Lancaster was spotted on the 1/8 mile track last Saturday, trying to judge the light and lower his time.

As for the two cars, both are veterans of the Soldotna drags.

"They've gone head-to-head before and are the most competitive cars for each other," Hudson said.

Though they are both "door-slammers" -- drag lingo for race cars with doors on them -- neither are every day drivers, Hudson added.

Besides bragging rights for the next year, the mayors are racing for a special purse that will be donated to the charity of the winner's choice.

Williams said he hopes the shootout with Lancaster will rekindle on-track competition in the area.

"We used to have the Mayors Cup race out at Twin Cities Raceway," he said. "But the competition got fierce and we stopped."

Williams and Lancaster are expected to take to the track sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Hudson said. Gates open at 11 a.m., with time trials beginning at noon. The elimination rounds begin at 2 p.m. Event times for Saturday are the same, though the mayors won't be racing then.

The weekend of racing is being billed as the first Peninsula Shootout, and will feature other cars, motorcycles and even snowmachines. There also will be events for the not-yet-motorized set.

"There will be children's foot and bicycle races," Hudson said. "There will be a lot of prizes donated so kids should bring their running shoes and bicycles."

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