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Article Written by Todd Vallee For The Magazine 

"Inside Motorcycles" Thanks For The Article Todd! 

It was a typical Thursday night meeting at Lawrence “Bert” Bertrand’s place and the guys had managed to start bench racing. Along with Bert, Andy McGuire, Tim Horner and Bob Wyllie were also present. Bob was a former flat tracker from back in the day while Bert had raced anything with two wheels in a career that had spanned decades.   Andy and Tim, although not racers themselves, were motorcycle enthusiasts and always ready for a new challenge. Bert recalls how the talk turned to flat track, or the lack thereof in Alberta. “Bob and I were sharing some racing stories from way back. The more we talked, the more excited we got. We continued talking and getting worked up and I think by the end of the night all four of us would have hopped on bikes and staged a race right then if we could have.”
  The year was 2004 and the Alberta Vintage Flat Track Association (AVFTA) had officially been born. The four friends quickly started to spread the word in hopes of getting more people on board. “We had a lot of work to do at that point. Get more members, build some bikes, and of course find a place to ride. Tim and his wife Gail had connections in Thorhild which was home to the rodeo grounds and a 3/8 mile track. They managed to get us a chance to ride during the annual rodeo and Sunflower Festival. The first time out was more of a demonstration than a race but it seemed to have a positive reception so that was good.”
  Located about an hour northeast of Edmonton, Thorhild is now the home base for the AVFTA. “It’s a small town, maybe about five hundred people, but they seem to enjoy us being here. Ross Elliott is not only the president of our club but he is also involved with the agricultural society. Having somebody on the inside like that really helps. The facility itself is great with its grandstands, concession and full washrooms that are above par compared to most racing venues. Don Galloway and Peter Thompson put in a lot of hours in track prep and it shows every weekend. We are able to camp there if needed and our den mother Margaret Felzien always makes sure we are well fed.”
  The track hosts four races a year but it is also available for practice every Sunday. “It’s a pretty good deal. For ten dollars you can come out and run a thousand laps if you want. Typically we have about ten guys show up every week but if it’s the week before a race we might have fifteen or twenty.” Also on the schedule every year is a Father’s Day weekend double header with stops in Lloydminster and Vegreville. “Our track in Thorhild is clay so the guys enjoy the Father’s Day weekend races because it gives them a chance to ride a couple of cushion tracks. Those tracks are a bit bigger also so it really gives them a chance to stretch their legs a little if they feel like going fast.”
  As the name would suggest, when the AVFTA started, all of the bikes were in the vintage category. The word vintage in fact may not do these bikes justice as some of them were manufactured in the early fifties. In 2008 however, realizing they would attract more riders, they started allowing the modern 450 singles. “We have about sixty members in the club and we are always looking for more. Guys with motocross bikes will show up and want to try it out. All we ask is that you wear all of the approved gear, remove your front brake lever, and take the knobby tire off the rear. Generally, once somebody gives it a try they catch the bug and they are hooked. Don Galloway has a fleet of bikes and if he trusts you, he is always willing to lend you one. Don has been instrumental in helping us land new riders and I remember one weekend where he showed up with nine bikes.”
  The age demographic of the club leans a bit to the older side but they are hoping that will start to change soon. “We have some teenagers here now and I am probably the oldest rider at sixty –five.  Despite my age, I don’t plan on hanging up my leathers anytime in the near future. There is a great mix of riders as far as talent goes and we even have a father/son combo in Tom and Carter Booth. Galloway is probably one of our most prominent racers and even managed a podium finish at the Sacramento Mile this year in the vintage class.” As well as being the owner of Cycle Works in Edmonton, Galloway is heavily into the racer development side of things. “He is really into the growth of both our club as well as the sport so he is doing everything he can to get new kids involved. This past summer he was able to convince AMA legend Joe Kopp to come and ride with us for a couple of days. The boys had a lot of fun racing around with Kopp and I’m sure they learned a thing or two at the same time.”
  A couple of winters ago the AVFTA was saddened by the passing of founding member Tim Horner. Loved and respected by all, discussions were held among members on how to keep the Horner name alive. This resulted in the first annual Tim Horner Memorial Race being held last year. “We decided that the first race of the year every season will be the Tim Horner Memorial. We had some spectacular looking trophies made up for the event and Tim’s wife Gail was on hand to present them. Tim was a cornerstone of this association and it seemed the least we could do was have a race every year for him.”
  As the club continues to move forward, Bertrand has a vision of what he would like to see in the future. “We have a great nucleus of workers here and that is important. We have some new blood in here, guys like Robby McHenry that are very enthusiastic and that’s good to see. I am hoping that our rider and spectator count can continue to grow each season and we are always on the lookout for new tracks. I encourage people to come on out, join our association, and give it a try. I can’t promise you’ll be fast but I can promise you’ll have fun.”