While Central Ontario continues to rave in excitement about Jukasa Motor Speedway, there’s something equally as exciting happening in western Canada, as well.
This year marked the opening of Area 27, a 4.9 kilometer circuit designed by 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, located in Okanagan Valley – a reserve east of Oliver, British Columbia.
The track came about as a result of Bill Drossos, who has been a fan of racing since he was 11, but wondered why there was never a track of this side located in the west. It was a thought that remained in his mind till just two years ago, when the opportunity came about to buy the land. With having stayed in touch with Villeneuve since racing with him in F1600, Drossos says he immediately called the champion to ask him if he wanted to design the track.
“When he called me, I thought he was joking and it wouldn’t happen,” Villeneuve said. “It was picking up pace, with people investing right away in the dream with the motivation that there’s no track in the west and a lot of people with racecars. He started sending me photos of the land, possibilities, and working with everybody and figuring it out. I tried to imagine what the track would be like.”
The idea of designing a track had always been part of Villeneuve’s dream, since he was five years old making up designs with his small cars on the carpet at his grandparents.
“We went there and walked the track, where it could be and how it would work out,” Villeneuve recalled. “Then the other person joined us – Trevor Seibert – who I raced against in Atlantic. He’s been building road and highways so he knew that part of the trade – the building part. I had no clue and didn’t know what it cost, but couldn’t care.
“We were trying to get it to where a race track should be, where it’s fun, challenging, scary. It was to go back what got me into racing, why I loved racing. I took a clean sheet of paper and did it from scratch. I took a photo and made lines where I thought it’d be, and then he took it into a simulator and we improved upon it.”
The challenge of the track seems to stand true as Drossos notes their chief driving instructor for the school, Richard Spinard, told them afterwards that he could learn any tracks in less than 20 laps, but this track “has secrets even after 70 laps. It’s exciting, challenging.”