SAINT JOSEPH DE BEAUCE, Que. - Nestled in the rolling hills that surround the Chaudiere Valley in Quebec, is a charming village of about 5,000 inhabitants, located about 75 km southeast of Quebec City...
AND THEY’RE OFF: Trucks go head-to-head during an up-hill drag race at the annual event in Southern Quebec.
LIGHT’EM UP: A trucker burns some rubber and sacrifices a set of tires in the name of speed. This year’s event will pit Canadian truckers against Americans, organizers claim.
SAINT JOSEPH DE BEAUCE, Que. –Nestled in the rolling hills that surround the Chaudiere Valley in Quebec, is a charming village of about 5,000 inhabitants, located about 75 km southeast of Quebec City, near the US border.
Once a year, at the end of summer, Saint Joseph de Beauce attracts between 50,000 and 60,000 spectators who arrive from across Canada and the US to watch the annual “up-hill” big rig drag race, located at the centre of town. It’s a two-day spectacle now in its fifth year -and growing.
“We have now been confirmed as the number one truck acceleration competition in the province of Quebec, and probably in most of Canada,” says a spokesman for the event, Yvan Pare.
The “Up-hill Big Rig Challenge Drag Race” was created by a nonprofit organization in order to raise funds for humanitarian causes such as needy or sick children, and other charities. The drag race has donated close to $150,000 towards this cause since its inception five years ago. To build on this success, the organizer indicates that next year’s event is being promoted as a major international competition, with a special feature.
“We will be holding our annual competition again on Labour Day weekend, and we intend to have as a main event, a race-off between the five best American racers and the five best Canadians,” Pare says.
He adds the annual drag race attracts prominent competitors from across Canada, including Gord Cooper from Calgary, Alta., of Smokin’ Gun fame, which is purported to be Canada’s first and fastest diesel drag racing semi, according to his Web site. Cooper attended the drag race for the first time this summer, and was impressed with the level of competition.
“He called it ‘beyond imagination and outstanding’ for a competition that is only five years old, because these are mostly working people driving their trucks for a living,” says Pare.
The drag race has also attracted regular American competitors, such as Bob Raymond and his wife Jean from Epping, New Hampshire, who have a unique attraction with a “showtime flame-throwing truck” that caused quite a sensation.
There are other special events between races, such as this year’s up-hill competition between a Ferrari and Mustang.
The speed for the Ferrari/ Mustang race was about 83 mph, while the Smokin’ Gun made 85 mph, says Pare.
“It’s amazing the level of competition,” says Pare. “I challenge other competitors to join us.”
Despite the noise, the smoke and the skid marks caused by a diesel truck race that competes on a 925-foot long up-hill track, Pare says the community endorses a race that encourages spectators to get close to the action.
There is also a Saturday night parade which draws 500 trucks dressed for show.
The truck festival doesn’t shut down at nightfall, and organizers erect a large tent for socializing, with music and dancing in true Quebec fashion. It’s an annual event that has become very profitable for local businesses.
“I think that business that weekend is better than the rest of the year together,” says Pare. “This place is booming during that weekend.”
Furthermore, Pare indicates that the community respects the transportation industry, as there are a number of transport companies located in that area.
The village is also located on a connector route between Quebec City and the US border.
This sector creates a natural draw to the drag race, including participants.
There are two kinds of races held at this event: bobtail and tractor-trailer, which carry 50,000 lbs. Competitors can enter in both or either one of these events, in four different categories.
This past event had winners earn a total of $50,000 in prize money.
“Some guys got three or four purses,” explains Pare.