About a dozen vintage speedster cars will be riding the Kootenay portion of the Selkirk Loop this weekend in the first ever Valley of Ghosts Speedster Endurance Run.
The two-day event will start and finish in Nelson.
Local organizer Alan With said there will be mostly American license plates on the 85- to 90-year-old vehicles.
“Drivers are mainly coming from Washington and Oregon, and a few from Idaho and Montana,” said With, who is a member of the Portland-based Northwest Vintage Speedsters organization. “Usually I’m the one making the long trip to get to their events… It’s nice this time they’re coming to me.”
On Saturday drivers will spend nine hours on the road, travelling north from Nelson through Kaslo and New Denver, and continuing south as far as Castlegar before returning to Nelson along Highway 3A.
“That first day is the test of endurance for the driver,” With said, explaining it can be uncomfortable to drive speedsters for more than a couple hours.
The old cars don’t have doors or windows, never mind shocks or springs in the seats for the comfort of the driver.
With describes his 1928 Ford Model A as “basically an engine, two seats, a gas tank and a tool box.”
Speedsters were considered high performance cars in their day. They can travel 100 to 120 km/h. Still, they’re not really made for long trips.
“I’ve had to do lots of repairs on the road,” With said. “On long rides, parts will just break off from metal fatigue or I’ll have to deal with an electrical component giving me trouble.”
On Sunday, the speedsters won’t travel as far, but they’ll be putting the vehicles to the test on rough terrain around Waneta and Seven Mile dams, south of Trail.
“We’ll have the cars on the type of road conditions they would have experienced when they were made, before the roads were paved,” said With, who has been taking part in speedster events for 30 years.
At 55, With is considered young among speedster enthusiasts. He said some people attending this weekend’s ride are in their 80s.
“I was in my 20s when I saw my first speedster, and I remember I just fell in love,” With said.
It took him six years to collect the rare parts to build his speedster.
“They’re just fun cars, and faster than people expect,” he said. “I love the look on people’s face when they see me driving it, especially when I pass them.”