Local car builders Andrew Stephens

Racers prepare for BC Place showdown

Three Hope drivers are competing in demo cross event on Saturday

It takes more than paint to hold a mini-stock race car together — but six spray bombs of fluorescent green paint added the finishing touch to James Talarico’s 1988 Dodge Colt that he’ll be racing in a 26-car demo cross event at BC Place on Saturday.

Three Hope drivers have been invited to take part in the half-time entertainment during the monster truck meet, where they’ll be able to promote motorsports events in Hope.

Talarico may have to break out a few more cans of paint after the weekend, so his car is ready for Katie Fry to race during Summer Smash in Hope July 14-15. Fry helped Talarico build the car over the past few weeks, after it was acquired from a car lot in Surrey.

“It was roadworthy when we got it,” said Talarico, though its days on the road have come to a sudden end.

The demo cross race will involve plenty of contact and the oval race course includes two tabletop jumps, so the car had to be severely modified.

To comply with demo cross rules, the glass had to be removed — as well as all flammable material in the interior, other than the driver’s seat.

Gas tank: gone.

Headlights and taillights: gone.

Dashboard, instruments and radio: gone.

The engine has been left as stock but the battery has been moved out from under the hood and into a battery box beside the driver, bolted to the floor. For fuel, Talarico converted a small propane tank into a fuel cell, which is bolted to the floor where the back seat would have been.

“It holds about two gallons, which should be good for quite a while,” said Talarico, who has been a local motorsports organizer for many years. “The races are usually only 18 or 20 laps.”

For further safety, there has to be a roll cage, a four or five-point harness, and a door bar. Talarico has added a door bar on the passenger side to keep the car in better shape for use this summer.

“It helps maintain the integrity of the body — and in Hope we’re allowed to have a passenger, so we’ll throw that seat back in there,” he explained. “We could have left the front windshield in but you can’t have windshield wipers, so what do you do if your window gets covered in dirt? I took it out and put steel mesh instead.”

“Yeah… but you still have washer fluid in the tank,” laughed Talarico’s friend, Chris Stephens.

Stephens and his brother Andrew had just arrived at Talarico’s shop, after finishing the paint job on the ’89 Honda Civic that he’ll be racing at the demo cross, along with Hope resident Billy Bell and his late ’80s Plymouth Reliant wagon.

Stephens got his car locally and built it into a mini-stock racer at Canyon Automotive, where he works as a mechanic.

“It was Karen Young’s old car,” he said. “It hadn’t been running in probably a year or so, but it’s running now.”

Stephens figured he’s put about $500 into the Civic, including the purchase of the car.

“If you can do it for under $500, you’re doing well,” said Talarico.

“A lot of the parts, you can take off and use on the next car,” added Stephens. “The door bars, battery box, roll cage, window screen, seat harness and fuel cell. There’s lots to recycle.”

From past experience, both Stephens and Talarico plan to take a set of four mounted spare tires down to the event.

The two figured they probably wouldn’t even be getting out of second gear in the BC Place race, though the tabletop jumps could be a bag of trouble if they get airborne.

“I’ve demo-derbied and 4×4’d before — but this is the first demo cross for me,” said Stephens. “James has done it before, in Hope. My plan is to get out in front and stay out in front.”

“Yeah… stay out of the chaos,” added Talarico.

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