Cruisin’ Kootenays

Cranbrook's Jim Nichol & Rocky Mountain Rally chair Jim Blaber hope to grow racing in the region

Cranbrook's Jim Nichol goes for a rip in his 1993 Subaru Impreza last week in preparation for the 2014 Rocky Mountain Rally

Cranbrook's Jim Nichol goes for a rip in his 1993 Subaru Impreza last week in preparation for the 2014 Rocky Mountain Rally

Created with flickr slideshow.

Taylor Rocca

The Rocky Mountain Rally is making a return to the Columbia Valley and for the second consecutive year, Cranbrook will be represented at the Canadian Rally Championship event.

Rally car driver Jim Nichol and co-driver Jeremy Friesen, both of Cranbrook, will be racing for the second time at the event, which runs Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Invermere, B.C.

“I’ve always been interested in motor sport,” Nichol said.

“I found out rally is in our own backyard. It’s here in the Kootenays.”

The Rocky Mountain Rally is one of six national rally races in the Canadian Rally Championship series. This is the second year the race will be run out of Invermere.

“Two years ago, we actually hit on Invermere as a key location,” said John Blaber, chair of the organizing committee and clerk of the course for the Rocky Mountain Rally.

“We’re looking to make this a long-term base for the rally. We’re looking to develop things with the towns, with the communities and to really just expand it and make it an annual thing that everybody knows about.”

There are two rally distances drivers can compete in — national and regional. Nichol will be competing in the regional rally distance, which features 117 kilometres over six stages. The national rally stretches 185 km over 10 stages.

As of Oct. 21, there are 26 drivers registered to run in the race.

“There’s a lot to do. You start early in the morning and you go until late at night,” said Nichol, who drives a modified 1993 Subaru Impreza. “I didn’t realize it would be so busy and there would be so much to do. There’s a lot to keep track of and I have my co-driver [Jeremy Friesen] with me.

“He tells me the gradient of the turns, how sharp the turns are and what to expect on the road. He also has to keep track of the timing. We have to be at certain places at certain times and if you don’t get there at the right time, you get penalized.”

As far as he knows, Nichol is the only rally car driver in the East Kootenay. Blaber hopes the sport will grow in the area with increasing attention on the Rocky Mountain Rally.

“People understand what rally is and they’re usually keen to learn more about it,” Nichol said. “It’s just they don’t know that it’s here. They don’t know that it’s close by and they can go and see it.”

The ceremonial start for the race will take place on Main Street in Invermere Oct. 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The rally officially gets underway at 11:30 a.m.

“Last year was the first year we were here in the Columbia Valley,” Blaber said. “We had to build the rally, find the roads. We worked very hard with the Ministry of Transportation and also the forestry departments, to find those roads.

“We purposely kept [the 2013 rally] low key because we just didn’t know what we were going to get…This year, we’ve focused more on the PR and spectator side of things. We’re working hard with the two towns of Invermere and Radium. They’re coming out and supporting us in various ways.”

There are a variety of spectator locations scattered throughout the Columbia Valley with the first four stages of the event taking place Friday, Oct. 31. The first two stages of the event can be viewed along Westside Road south of Invermere. The third and fourth stages of the event swoop further south between Canal Flats and Skookumchuck. Stages five through eight take place Saturday, Nov. 1 in and around the Radium area. Those wishing to take in the event are encouraged to follow the signs and directions of course marshals and volunteers.

“You can actually be standing no more than five or 10 metres from the cars,” Blaber added. “[You can] see the whites of the [drivers’] eyes, is probably the best way to put it.”

The Rocky Mountain Rally was first run in 1973, organized by three separate Alberta car clubs — the Edmonton Light Car Club, the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club and the Calgary Sports Car Club. The 1974 edition of the event saw racers drive from Jasper to Banff, racing approximately 1,500 km in three days. The event has moved locations over the years, beginning in places such as Calgary, Edmonton and the Pincher Creek/Crowsnest Pass area.

The Calgary Sports Car Club is still involved in the presentation of the event to this very day.

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read