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Photo courtesy: Thunder Bay Autosport Club

Atikokan airport requested for future autocross event

By Randy Thoms Apr 10, 2024 | 4:19 PM

There is a push in Atikokan to bring an autocross event to the community.

Autocross tests the driving skills of participants through a slalom-type course.

The course may include chicanes, bus stops, decreasing radius, and corners.

Cors Verhage has competed in the sport for the past fifteen years in British Columbia and Alberta, and is now a member of the Thunder Bay Autosport Club.

He says autocross has been a staple of car clubs across the country.

“It’s actually been in place for over 60 years now. Happens all across North America in parking lots, airports, any facility that has a nice piece of asphalt and is willing to let a local car club use it,” says Verhage.

He is now hoping to bring the sport to Atikokan and is seeking permission to use the Atikokan airport.

“Clubs like the Thunder Bay Autosport Club, they’re always looking for that venue that provides a new challenge for its members. And I think we have that in the airport facility. If you look at the unique shape, that kind of an offset design, there could be some really neat elements in play.”

He says events are run safely.

Many car model and make is permitted, but undergo a 20-point inspection before being allowed on the track.

One car at a time is allowed on the course, with speeds reaching about 60 km/h, depending on the layout.

Verhage says there are also rules in place that ensure drivers have control of their vehicles.

He says the ability to stage an event in Atikokan can offer some financial benefits.

“I think it’s going to bring a very different visitor base to town. We’ve got some folks with a little bit of money. They are looking for entertainment and they might not have come to Atikokan before. So when they come in for a one or two-day event, they’re going to be buying gas, food, hotels, and of course, over the course of the day, we find that we get residents coming up and checking out the event.”

During Verhage’s presentation to Atikokan township council, there were questions raised about the ability to make the airport available to air ambulances and the potential of damage caused by the cars.

Council intends to discuss the idea with administration further before making a decision.