07

Area 27: North America's Newest Road Course

by Frank Ewald

"If you build it, he will come!"  - Field of Dreams

In the movie Field of Dreams, one man turns a corn field into a baseball diamond and seemingly endless crowds come to this corn field to watch the great baseball ghosts of the past take the field. Of course, that is a movie and we all know that what Hollywood appears to make happen simply does not occur in everyday life ... Or does it?

 

The plateau upon which Area 27 sits and now is home to Canada's newest road course was once a corn field. With 205 members already, this private course is already well established.

Bill Drossos was coming back from alpine skiing on Mount Baldy when a plateau over the Okanagan Valley caught his eye. Bill, being an avid racer since his teens, was already picturing a race track winding up and down the hills and around the trees. He saw corners. He saw racers. He saw cars. He could smell gasoline, rubber, and hot brakes. But in reality, what he saw was simply a corn field that was not producing very much. That was in 2012 and now, fast-forwarding through the past four years into 2016, Bill is maneuvering his way around a slightly different plateau where he sees corners, cars and racers. He hears the laughter of men and women who have just enjoyed speed and handling on a private road course. The aroma of gasoline and rubber slightly in the air. But rather than being in a slightly lifted 4x4 bouncing around at a maximum of 50 KPH with his mind picturing what could be, he is actually in an Audi R8 with the V10 singing and coming into turn 2 somewhat north of 200 KPH. His vision is a reality. And just like the movie, people are coming. They want to see this track carved into the semi-desert landscape of the south Okanagan Valley.

 

Area 27 is based upon the country club model. The track is only open to members and their guests. Of course, if the members are interested in a race series then that may be a consideration. While Porsche's are front and centre in this pic, on the day I was present the track boasted everything from Jaguars to Nissan GTRs through Corvettes and Radicals. There were a couple of road circuit Nascars, a Mini, and I was very pleased to see a Miata as well. Here Bill is just giving the drivers notice they'll be on track shortly.
Membership consists of motorsport enthusiasts - automobile and motorcycles. Patiently lined up on the concrete pit row we have a Radical SR3 and Craig Fernandes with his Honda RC51 waiting for their groups to head out. Obviously, not on course at the same time. On the day that I was present there was a novice car group, an advanced car group, an open wheel group, and a motorcycle group.

As I drove up to the locked gate in my RV, I met Lucas who enthusiastically gave me a quick description of the track. Then he pointed out a perimeter road that I could take to get some photographs - valuable information as I was 45 minutes early for my appointment with Area 27's media relations manager, Jeannette Montgomery. Jeannette, who's been with Area 27 for three years, is both a wealth of information and full of enthusiasm for this track and all of the positive spin-off effects for the community. Plus she had the opportunity to meet Jacques Villeneuve and ride shotgun around the track in a McLaren LT675 that professional racer Chris Green was piloting. Few of us can add that to our resume! If you are wondering, Jeannette is never leaving her position. And if she does, consider my name already submitted!

 

The Area 27 track was just paved in August. As a result there is still much work to be done. However, once the pavement was down the desire to get on track was huge. The members had the opportunity to attend the Area 27 Academy led by Richard Spenard - there is no access to the track without completion of a recognized school.

There are four key team members behind Area 27. Jacques Villeneuve, Trevor Seibert, David King, and Bill Drossos are the initial team. Bill found the site and then inspired these three to help him make it a reality. They were quickly joined by Les Cool, Daryl Carter, Robert Sinneave, Gord Lindsay, Robbie Dickson, Paul Neider, and Brett Knelson who are the founding members. They provided the seed money and helped secure initial financing that made Area 27 possible. While chatting about the early days while sitting in my RV (it was late October and the wind was rather brisk), Jeannette commented that Bill's perseverance was exceptional and that his determination incredible. Bill broke in at this point and said that there was no plan B. Simply put, this track was going to happen and the only movement was forward - overcoming all obstacles as necessary. In fact, it was crafted for success.

 

I am pretty sure that this is a Jaguar F-Type Coupe ... the sound of this car was absolutely incredible. It was only on track for a session or two and was not present when I was in the paddock.
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Comments
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 6:23 AM
Cooooooool. The Corvette Museum opened up a road course last year. I really need to get a suitable car together and try it out. It's great to see new tracks are popping up, even as some of the old ones disappear.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 9:35 AM
Page 6 tire barrier: Continental must've had a recall... :)
nissannx
nissannxlink
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 10:45 AM
It is absolutely exciting to hear of new tracks. And there's another new private track in BC. Prime time for motorsports - if you're ready for a membership.

I don't know the full story on the tires but I do know that they are unsuitable for use. The sidewalls are all cut.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 2:24 PM
thats actually driving distance for me, to bad its the stupid super expensive members only bs... I guess they don't want the guy in the Miata showing up and showing the Porsche guys whats up... :D (I'm kidding about me, but my Miata mechanic got yelled at by a local event organizer for that)

I've been passed by the red vette on page 4 second pic from the bottom at a local track...
SM_Clay72
SM_Clay72link
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 7:30 PM
Far from prime time for motorsports. These are lapping facilities for the wealthy with no current interest in supporting grassroots motorsports. Very frustrating as a racer that lives in BC. We who actually want to race are limited to a cobbled together circuit in Mission. I think the only hope is that the members get a taste and develope a desire to do some actual racing.

Beautiful track, hopefully someone involved decides to champion the grassroots wheel to wheel racer. Glad to see they have plans for a kart track too.

Also, that Miata is a spec car my dad built and drove. Hopefully the buyer is one of the ones who will want to bring racers to his track.
nissannx
nissannxlink
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 8:35 PM
I'd like to see a track open to the public, but current economics haven't provided for that in recent years. Calabogie has successfully pulled it off but I cannot think of another track that has opened it's doors in recent history. So with a new track opening, I still say that it's prime time. Just maybe not as prime for you and I.

If you've been following my writing, you know I'm a grassroots motorsports fan. I'm optimistic that grassroots racing will have a chance at Area 27. But obviously, members come first. That's how the track got built, so be patient. I'm going to be, as I hope interest will be there. I certainly raised the point and the need. I have only chatted with a few of the members - but there is no doubt that those I spoke with are avid car guys. I have no doubt that there will be many who cannot fully drive their exotic - and I hope they buy a Miata or a Mini to explore and build their driving.

There are not as many choices for tracks in the west as when I lived in Ontario. Hopefully I'll meet you at Mission. I'm looking forward to getting there next summer.
BTW, pretty cool that your dad built that Miata!
AllWheelsDriven
AllWheelsDrivenlink
Tuesday, November 08, 2016 9:02 PM
I know I'm going to sound like a Debby downer but I have to echo SM_Clay72's comments. I rarely get to the track (almost exclusively on two wheels at that) mostly because of cost and I fail to see how this facility gets me or people like me more track time. This is an amazing facility but it is in the middle of proverbial nowhere. I live in NW Washington State, and would gladly make the trip if I could afford it for only one or two weekends a year, even more gladly if they attract (if they even want to) a major racing event or series, but unfortunately this looks more like a playground for the rich from Vancouver, rather than a haven for JoeBlow enthusiast. Somebody PLEASE start giving The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton WA some prime time. They are open to everyone and are doing an amazing job with what they can scrabble together with open track days and small local series!!
nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, November 09, 2016 6:24 AM
AWD, it seems to me that most race tracks are in the middle of nowhere. I think it is because the best neighbours are found in nowhere. At the same point, Area 27 is minutes from prime summer vacation destination area, so they have done a great job hitting the needs of families with that.

I agree with you and SM_C - I wish it had open doors to the public. But it doesn't and it probably wouldn't have been built if it did. Building a track and having a guaranteed success, that's a great business model.

Hopefully The Ridge will be on my soon to attend list. The video from there looks pretty good. I haven't been on the west coast for a year yet, so the motorsport venues are all new to me.

Great comments and discussion. Thank you.
SM_Clay72
SM_Clay72link
Monday, November 14, 2016 8:20 AM
I'm excited to get out to the ridge this year, hopefully with a few different cars. I have heard nothing but good things about the track.
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