Area 27

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 4×4 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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