Exciting news broke this last summer for any driving enthusiasts who live in or visit British Columbia. With Vancouver and the Okanagan area home to plenty of luxury and supercars and the province known for its big and beautiful landscapes, from mountains ranges all the way down to beaches, with islands on the pacific to lakes and valleys in-land. One thing this province was always sorely missing was a place to satisfy a track-hungry car. Finally, Area 27 is set to fulfill that need by summer 2015. We were lucky to meet Angie Redpath at this year’s Luxury & Supercar Weekend in Vancouver, who is handling PR for Area 27 and introduced us to co-founder Bill Drossos for an interview:
Ryan: To start, what’s your history prior to Area 27?
Bill: When I was a kid I saw Gilles Villeneuve win the Canadian Grand Prix, and from that moment on all I wanted to do was drive a race car on a road circuit. My first opportunity came right after high school, when I competed in the F2000 Championship for two seasons at the Richard Spenard Racing School. When I returned to British Columbia I formed my own professional racing team to enter the highly competitive GM Motorsport series. It was during those early days in motorsport where I met and established friendships with the co-founders of Area 27.
Ryan: Who are the main partners involved and can you share a bit about them?
Bill: I began this with Jacques Villeneuve, David King, and Trevor Seibert. What can be said about Jacques that isn’t already in print? He has always wanted to design a great track, and relishes the challenge it presents. When I met David he was competing in the Porsche Cup series and was the President of a major North American real estate company, and currently is a board member of both Morguard and Clublink. David maintained his interest doing track days at Mosport but since moving to BC has lacked a suitable venue. Trevor and I competed in the GM Motorsport series and had the opportunity to race on circuits like Westwood, Race City, Mosport, and the Molson Indy Vancouver and Toronto – he has been competing in one series or another ever since and currently owns Lake Excavating, a road building and heavy infrastructure construction company.
Ryan: What’s the story behind Area 27? What inspired it and what brought you all together for it?
Bill: The inspiration goes back to my racing school days at Shannonville Ontario. What impressed me was how the school was attracting people from all over the world. I thought if you could have a track and a school in a destination area like the Okanagan Valley, you would really have something special. It was two years ago when returning from skiing at Mt. Baldy that I saw the perfect piece of land for a motorsports country club. I met with Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band, and he personally gave me a tour of the land and showed me an even better site for the club. Then it was a matter of calling my old friends and convincing them that a Country Club track was a good idea.
Ryan: I read there are several phases to this project, can you break them down for us?
Bill: Phase 1 is all the asphalt and includes the full circuit, a karting track, paddock area, skidpad, and access roads. Additionally we are building an on-site service building and individual vehicle storage suites. Phase 2 is the Members Clubhouse, which features a restaurant, locker rooms, store, and a games room referred to as the ‘Drivers Den’. Phase 3 includes rental condominiums that we like to call ‘Arrive and Drive’ suites. Phase 4 is continuous upgrading of infrastructure related to hosting events – things like grandstands, spectator parking, pit-lane garages, and timing/media type buildings. Jacques and I are starting to talk about phase 5, but we will have to keep you posted on that.
Ryan: What is the schedule for construction and the official opening? Will different facilities open at different times?
Bill: As we approach our goal of 200 members we’re scheduling the start of Phase 1 construction. Once we get close to 300 members we’ll start work on the Members Clubhouse. Currently we’re on target to complete Phase 1 in the summer of 2015.
Ryan: For our petrolhead fans, can you share the details and stats for the main track?
Bill: The track will be 12 meters wide and around 5 kilometers in length with approximately 20 meters of elevation change. We just completed the topographical site survey and are exploring various routing options and design features. Once finished, we’ll post a 3D track map on the area27.ca website. Knowing Jacques, this will likely end up being one of the most exciting and fun tracks to drive found anywhere.
Ryan: What types of vehicles are allowed on the track? And what kinds do you expect to see ripping around it?
Bill: We expect to see all types of vehicles, from vintage sports racers to ultra sophisticated supercars, GTs, and even motorcycles. The only restriction is that convertibles are required to have approved rollover protection. The terrain acts as a natural sound buffer so our daily sound limit should be quite high without any adverse effect to neighboring residents. I have seen some of our members’ cars and I can confidently say that seeing these cars in action at Area 27 will be like attending ‘The Worlds Greatest Car Show’.
Ryan: With the additional phases, there’s a lot more going on than member track days, what are some highlights?
Bill: Situated in the sunny South Okanagan, Area 27 is ideally placed to become the premier corporate entertainment facility in Western Canada. Businesses that join as Corporate Members can book our facilities to provide customers, employees, and media a unique and unforgettable ‘Total Package’ experience. In addition to the performance driving and racing programs, the Area 27 driving academy site will host accident avoidance and emergency responder type driving schools. The karting centre really lowers the barrier of entry for enthusiasts; we’ll have a rental fleet of race karts for drivers of all ages.
Ryan: Ok now that we’re getting excited, what are the membership options?
Bill: There are presently three types of membership: Charter, Regular, and Corporate. It’s important to note that the member owns their membership and can upgrade, downgrade, or sell it in the future. Really, membership is the closest thing anyone could have to owning their own private Grand Prix circuit, something I think every sports car driver dreams of. For more information on what membership includes check out the membership page on the Area 27 website.
Ryan: Being home to a premium track, something non existent in Western Canada, will you host any competitive or charity racing events?
Bill: Our intention is to host a few motorsport events each calendar year – historic racing, superbikes, and GT class racing at International and Regional levels are all distinct possibilities. Many of our members support numerous charities, and Area 27’s first scheduled event was a charitable fundraiser for the Spirit of the Game Society to help underprivileged youth obtain sports equipment.
Ryan: Area 27 will be located in the beautiful South Okanagan. For anyone not familiar with the region, what else can member expect to enjoy when they’re visiting you?
Bill: Featuring Canada’s only true desert, the South Okanagan’s warm dry climate allows for just about every type of recreation you can think of. Activities like golf, skiing, boating, mountain biking, kite boarding, rock climbing, tennis, wine tasting, and numerous other attractions are all literally less than 30 minutes from your door. The Okanagan Valley is already Canada’s great playground – now all we need is a Motorsports Country Club.
For more info and membership applications, visit Area27.ca.