Vancouver Island is wonderful place for many different people who appreciate the mild climate, the beautiful scenery and the diverse culture. With a countless number of great roads to drive on and the vast array of activities that can be taken advantage of all year around, it’s home to many with amazing cars who appreciate both their beauty and their performance.
Compared to most other dealerships in the country, our eight facilities sell a large number of high performance vehicles due to the mild climates and the demographics on Vancouver Island. This can easily be seen from the array of sports and performance vehicles you see driving along our roads, going to and from work daily and enjoying weekend drives up and down the island. On occasion, we will also sell some extremely fast cars to owners of whom have never been trained or coached on how to get the best performance out of their new cars, and thus they’re limited to enjoying only their looks and the sound of their exhausts. However, one thing many of these drivers may dislike about Vancouver Island us the slow speed limits on the highways and the beautiful country back roads.
The idea for our own test track originated from a dealer meeting that was held at the Las Vegas Raceway. We could see that everyone was driving their hearts out and their faces were filled with excitement from the moment they stepped out of the cars. On the other side of the facility, you would see people renting Mercedes-Benz SLS’s, Lamborghinis and Ferraris by the lap just to drive on the track. After looking around, we noticed cars from far and wide who travelled long distances to the Raceway just to drive a few laps.
After making these observations, it was obvious that the two things everyone had in common were the stories they had to share when they met at the clubhouse and the exhilarating feeling and passion for driving fast, but in a safe manner.
While we would definitely plan to build a facility like the Las Vegas Raceway, the weather and the beauty on Vancouver Island would allow our track to be special in its own way due to the fact that it would be open all year round. It isn’t too hot in the summer and the winters are mild enough to have fun outside. A full year of usability would also benefit the financial performance of the facility compared to those that are only open for six to seven months out of the year.
GAIN – Vancouver Island’s Premier Dealer Group operates a strong dealer group that will help support our track in the beginning so that it does not fail after one bad month. As a relatively large and very motivated company, we can count on the great support from our teams in marketing, human resources and administration to handle the workload needed to start this new venture and to get the message out to people all over Canada and the north-western regions of the United States.
With over 300 employees in our Dealer Group, many of them are truly passionate for motorsports and automobiles and like many other events we hold such as the Vancouver Island Motor Gathering, we can count on everyone’s help to get a big event under control and operate it smoothly without hiccups.
Another important fact to note is that we represent nine brands that are active in performance driving and understand that the manufacturers need venues to allow their clients and dealers to drive new models at product launches and to showcase their performance.
Once we were convinced that this was a great idea, the plan to create the Vancouver Island Motorsport Resort was born and we research for the right property began. With some luck, we found it right in between Victoria and Nanaimo. The property we selected is big enough for our initial plans in phase one but will also allow for future expansion in phase two. This facility features a wonderful topography resulting in interesting drives with exciting corners and elevation changes throughout the course.
In the very beginning we honestly thought we would create a simple circuit ourselves or with our partners in the construction industry that helped us with many dealership projects before. We planned that our team in marketing (as they are amazing with design and manipulating images) would be capable of taking the most exciting corners from famous tracks around the world and superimpose them onto the facility map. We were excited with the idea of having a few really exciting corners and some nice straightaways and were ready to go.
However, after some extensive research, we started to build the business plan and quickly discovered that a few others did exactly that and surprise, surprise, it did not turn out well. We came across an article in the Forbes magazine called The Best Places to Speed Legally and it sent us to the right places to do our research. We also sent our design (the one currently circulating the internet, courtesy to a leak from our dealerships or contractors) to some friends in Germany. Most of them were previous race car drivers, who still work as brand ambassadors and we were surprised that nobody answered or provided comments. We thought it was due to the fact that we hadn’t been in touch with them for a while, but then found out that it was the liability of any comment made to us held them back.
We then went and visited some of those clubs, tracks and resorts and the one thing that was in all of their comments was, you need a great track. If there was one thing they would do over, most of them answered that they would have invested in the best track designers in the world. That is when we started to research who that is and we discovered didn’t have to look very hard. Hermann Tilke, Peter Wahl and Tilke Engineering and Architects stand out for having designed the best facilities for the last 10-15 years. After contacting their North American office, we started the process of discovery and we felt we were in the right hands from the first conversation onwards.
We started to work together on the basic design and layout and it was soon time to visit them in their head office in Aachen, Germany, not far away from the famous Nuerburgring, and met with the team. Needless to say we were impressed in this environment that oozes Formula 1, Moto GP and Motorsport in all different forms. We met a team of more than one hundred experienced professionals who could say that they have worked with the best and have met some of the most famous people in motorsports and the automotive industry to create exciting courses for them. We were able to finalize the design and gave the go ahead to create the design plans for our construction team.
Christian Epp, Director Americas for Tilke Engineering, of whom was our first point of contact, has now become a person we talk to every couple of days. We are all amazed at the speed of the progress and the direction the project has taken and the possibilities it offers. There is no doubt in our minds that we have the right team in place to build this facility. Our team of building experts with Sam Distefano leading as our supervisor on all projects and our contractor, Chris Erb with SupErb Construction of whom has built six of our dealerships in the last three years will in the next 11 months build a great facility to satisfy even the most critical enthusiasts.
To understand what we are in the process of building, imagine you are in Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Toronto or any other city with direct flights to Nanaimo or Victoria. You look out the window in November or any month until April, it is cold and snowy and you decide to fly to Vancouver Island on Friday after work. There you take a rental car and drive to a hotel and spend the night after having a great dinner overlooking the ocean. The next morning, you drive to the resort and your car (that we keep track ready in storage for you) is waiting for you in the paddock. You drive for three to four hours and enjoy your car, your skills and maybe you have made improvements in your lap time or figured a corner out more than the last time, which will be as satisfying as taking a few strokes of your game in golf. Then you hand the keys back to our staff and spend the afternoon doing something else on our beautiful island. You go golfing, fly fishing, ocean fishing, to a great spa, hiking, mountain biking or anything that makes you happy. The best thing is, you can do this virtually any day of the year.
Does that sound like a wonderful weekend? Is it worth an investment into the membership of this facility? So far, judging by the amount of response and by the quality of the responses, we think so.
We would also like to address another great track that is in progress in the Okanagan Valley, Area 27. We wish them well and know they will also build a great facility for motorsport enthusiasts. With the luxury car brands now selling over 114,000 units each year, the line of exotic sports cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and the newly launched Alfa Romeo, and the countless classic sports cars in garages all over Canada waiting to be driven and making their owners proud, we are confident the two tracks can easily co-exist in Western Canada.
March 1, 2016 will be a new chapter for motorsports fans and car collectors as for the very first time, they can be part of a club that allows them to do what they love to do – driving great sports cars to their limit.
We certainly look forward to hosting our clients and meet many new Motorsports fans at this facility and to grow the motorsport community on Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Western Canada and even the northwest of the United States.
For updates and information regarding the Vancouver Island Motorsport Resort, please check back soon.