“The centre, developed by the Island-based GAIN Dealer Group (German Auto Import Group) promises members up to 350 driving days a year, thanks to the area’s temperate climate.”

It’s what B.C. performance car enthusiasts have dreamed about for years – a first class, high-speed track.

And that dream will become a reality next spring with the opening of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Resort, just north of Duncan, in the picturesque Cowichan Valley, less than an hour from Victoria.

The centre, developed by the Island-based GAIN Dealer Group, promises up to 350 driving days a year, thanks to the area’s temperate climate.

“This is not aimed just at people with very expensive, new high performance cars,” explains GAIN chief executive officer Peter Trzewik, who expects to announce membership details within a month.

“We hope to see people with older model cars, who want to get out on a good track. We could sell out the membership immediately overseas but instead we are encouraging Canadians and people from over the border in Seattle and Portland. It’s important that this track is used daily.”

And for around half of each month, Trzewick expects to see new car product launches, driving school courses and community charity galas and events.

The circuit, designed by internationally renowned Tilke GmbH & Co, will provide the novice an opportunity to gain proficiency, while challenging the more accomplished drivers.

Phase One comprises 19 corners and elevation changes of more than 25 metres, with a length of 2.3 kilometres. Speeds of up to 200 km/h will be possible on the high-speed sectors of the circuit in the first phase. When Phase Two is completed likely a couple years later, a total of 4.21 kilometres of track will be available

Trzewik says driver safety is a priority so there are state-of-the-art run-off areas providing an opportunity to make a correction, with tire barriers and guard rails in reserve, enhancing the protection of both car and driver.

Members travelling to Vancouver Island will be able to choose the convenience of leaving their performance car at the VIMR in a secure and temperature-controlled storage facility. With this add-on option, cars stored at the resort will be maintained to track-ready condition by specialists, providing the member full use of their car when their schedule allows, with minimal personal effort for repair and maintenance.

Factory trained technicians representing Alfa Romeo, Audi S-Line, BMW M, Mercedes-Benz AMG, MINI JCW, and Porsche will be available to provide the expertise in keeping modern track cars in perfect running condition. Repairs and maintenance will be completed in the time between member visits to maximize their time driving.

Members who enjoy vintage sports and racing cars will be able to have their cars maintained and repaired by Rudi & Company, a world-renowned specialist in the restoration and repair of the world’s great cars. Assistance with the delivery of a member’s car to the resort may also be arranged with trusted transportation partners.

A 14,500 square foot clubhouse will offer a complete range of services to its members and house a restaurant featuring the very best of Vancouver Island ingredients.

Contact the writer at keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Factory trained technicians representing Alfa Romeo, Audi S-Line, BMW M, Mercedes-Benz AMG, MINI JCW, and Porsche will be available to provide the expertise in keeping modern track cars in perfect running condition. Repairs and maintenance will be completed in the time between member visits to maximize their time driving.
Factory trained technicians representing Alfa Romeo, Audi S-Line, BMW M, Mercedes-Benz AMG, MINI JCW, and Porsche will be available to provide the expertise in keeping modern track cars in perfect running condition. Repairs and maintenance will be completed in the time between member visits to maximize their time driving.
Factory trained technicians representing Alfa Romeo, Audi S-Line, BMW M, Mercedes-Benz AMG, MINI JCW, and Porsche will be available to provide the expertise in keeping modern track cars in perfect running condition. Repairs and maintenance will be completed in the time between member visits to maximize their time driving.


Quick Track Facts

Length: 2.3 kms (Phase One), 4.3 kms (Phase Two)

Track width: 10 m

Track layout: 19 turns, 7 left turns and 12 right turns

Top speed: 211 km/h (street legal sports cars)

Maximum incline: 12.5 percent

Maximum slope: 11.5 percent

Track layout combinations: 6

Track characteristics: Extremely lively topography, hanging and banked corners in all sections, run off areas designed with the newest technology and standards preventing damages to cars and bikes and offering the chance to correct and return safely on to the track.

More information and a detailed track drive description is available at: http://islandmotorsportresort.com/

It is a certainty that the rapid-fire experimentation that is going on in F1 will result in improvements to our everyday cars…

KM Infiniti-Red Bull F1 driveway 670x400

Even if you squint while looking at the Hybrid gas-electric car on your driveway, you likely have a hard time imagining it is anything like an F1 race car.

However, the new advanced hybrid technology at play in this 2014 season means that Formula 1 has never been closer to your driveway.

The car power units are 1600cc turbocharged V6 engines with direct fuel injection. They have to complete each race with 35 percent less fuel, with a maximum fuel load of 100kg (not litres) and the fuel flow is restricted to 100 kg/hour. That would mean your favourite driver would bow out half way through without further engineering help.

In addition, the power units have two electric motors, one linked directly to the turbocharger, the other working in the same way that the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) used to do. The result is a combined maximum power output of around 760bhp, which is similar to the output of the V8 cars of last year.

It is a certainty that the rapid-fire experimentation that is going on in F1 will result in improvements to our everyday cars. That’s the beauty of this highly competitive sport that is so geared to winning. Changes come faster because there’s no chance to undertake testing that takes an age under normal testing.

Last year, when I visited the Monaco Grand Prix as a guest of the Infiniti-Red Bull F1 race team, I chatted to Infiniti engineers who marvelled at the pace of improvement. Said one Infiniti engineer: “They do things so much more quickly than we can do under normal development processes because they have to. And the changes they make are so thoroughly tested on the track. It points two ways: sometimes what they do shows us the way to go but also the way not to go!”

Hong Kong-based Infiniti has made a very shrewd move in tying itself to the F1 team and particularly the reigning F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. The German racer is the marque’s Director of Performance. His association goes far beyond the typical celebrity endorsement, for he takes on a literal hands-on-the-wheel approach to his role.

Last year, I drove with Vettel on the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. He talked enthusiastically about how he hoped to influence future Infiniti design and performance. At trackside, Infiniti personnel were impressed with his ability to tell them what changes they needed to make to its set up after only a couple of laps of the track.

He has played a significant role in the development of the compact Q30, which should surface later next year. He has already left his mark on the all-new Infiniti Q50 sport sedan and sports car enthusiasts pray a high-powered ‘Eau Rouge’ version of the car will hit the production line.

Now if I were a betting man I would say confirmation of production might be soon. Yours truly, will join the team again next month at the Belgian Grand Prix, at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps… location of the famous ‘Eau Rouge’ corner. We will drive Q50s from the south of England, through the Euro Tunnel and on to Spa.

Immediately prior to the race weekend, yours truly will join international journalists in a behind-the-scenes visit to the team’s UK base in Milton Keynes. There we will learn something about the fast track work they carry out on the F1 cars. I suspect we will get a peek in what is in store for that car on your driveway and you will read about it here.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] driveway [dot] bc [dot] ca

Driveway editor Keith Morgan took a couple hot laps with F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and former Formula 1 racer David Coulthard, while the two of them and their Red Bull-Infiniti team were in Toronto before heading off to the Montreal Grand Prize in Quebec.

It was the second time Morgan had ridden with Vettel, and the second time their meetings have crossed just before Seb has finished on an F1 podium.

“It’s all down to you,” the champ said, while taking Morgan on a windy, whipping turn around the track at Bowmanville, Ontario.

Videos: Keith Morgan, Driveway

There is so much goodness dialled into this little car that it rewards the driver and passenger hour-after-hour…

With a flash of lightning beside our car, my co-pilot Alexandra Straub let out a screech as loud as the accompanying crack from the massive flash.

Pouring rain in our tiny car made the very first day of the 2014 Mazda rally one to remember. The Mazda MX-5 (Miata) is a car most would associate with sunny, summer top-down driving but this little machine was determined to show what it was made of. The howling wind, torrential rain and debris-covered roads were all taken in stride as we carved our way through the Tennessee mountains on our way to the Brasstown Valley Resort in neighboring Georgia.

Over the next three days, we experienced the MX-5 on some of the most dramatic and scenic roads this continent has to offer, and there was money on the line, big money.

Last year was the inaugural Mazda Rally, which Alexandra and I won, taking home $10,000 in charity money for Kidsport. As last year’s champions, we had extra pressure this year to repeat, something we later found out would be much tougher than we had imagined.

If you ever take a drive through the south east of the United States, do yourself a favour and divert away from the interstate highway system and experience driving nirvana, traversing the Blue Ridge, Unico and Smokey Mountain ranges. The lush National and State parks along with small towns and twisting river valleys is something to experience.

This is a destination for drivers too, especially the “Tail of the Dragon”, a section of highway 129, just inside the North Carolina border that has 318 turns over an 18-km stretch. This is a favourite of motorcycle riders but it is open to anyone wanting to experience back-to-back corners ranging from very tight to wide, sweeping turns. Our run up this road was wide open thanks to steady rain, with a few dozen motorcyclists out for a tour and several photographers taking pictures, then selling them to tourist, the same way you can buy a picture of your rollercoaster ride at the PNE!

Paved roads are the place the MX-5 shines, wet or dry. It never felt like the car was out of control, even on the fastest and most aggressive corners. There is so much goodness dialled into this little car that it rewards the driver and passenger hour-after-hour. With a front engine, rear drive setup and perfect weight distribution, the MX-5 has been one of my all-time favourite cars because of its simplicity.

The small, light, thrifty dimensions matched to a raspy 2.0L 4-cylinder and 6-speed manual makes for a fantastic power-to-weight distribution, meaning the 160hp engine might not sound like much on paper but, in practice, it makes the most of every situation.

One thing Mazda’s event planners has us do was drive and collect information for each days challenges. All of these were kept secret until the beginning of each drive, including the roads we might travel. A surprise was that some sections were unpaved. Taking Mazda’s brand new MX-5 through forest back-roads at speed, meant rocks flying, branches felled from the previous night’s storm kicking up, sliding sideways through corners and pounding over rough and rutted gravel.

At the end, the MX-5 showed no signs of wear; it just powered on to the next challenge, which was another surprise, the Atlanta Motorsports Park for an autocross challenge. To say we went from one extreme to the other is an understatement. An hour earlier I was sliding across gravel roads, followed by sliding around a racetrack trying to avoid pylons to dial in my best lap time. As it turns out I did get the second best time of the event but one of those pylons got in the way, knocking down my time by two seconds, all part of the challenge’s rules.

Over the three-day event, Alexandra and I didn’t have one disagreement, I made some navigational errors and so did she. We let it roll, these were long days and we hoped a few small glitches wouldn’t impact our score too much. We also missed one major clue in our guidebook, one that was worth a whopping 50 points. At the end, we had slipped from second place after the first day to fifth place. Sadly, next year we won’t be able to proudly display the number one on the side of our Black Press car.

zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Seb’s seat time with Driveway editor Keith Morgan clearly paid off as he went on to take his fourth straight championship…  (more…)

Sebastian Vettel’s involvement and input on performance specifications suggest this will be no slouch in takeoff and handling…

Infiniti director and F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel takes the wheel...

Infiniti director and F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel takes the wheel… (Photo: Keith Morgan)

From Los Angeles…

Four-time Formula One champion driver Sebastian Vettel has his fingerprints all over the Infiniti Q30 Concept on display at this city’s international auto show.

If that were literally the case, the detailing crew constantly cruising the show floor would soon remove his dabs. However, the hands-on impressions of the Infiniti-Red Bull racer are more than skin deep, extending deep into the performance of the sporty compact.

No powerplant details have been revealed for the car that will start rolling off the production line in early 2015 at Infiniti’s first European-based plant in the northeast UK city of Sunderland. However, Vettel’s involvement and input on performance specifications suggests this will be no slouch in takeoff and road handling. The Q30 Concept is the first model that the 26-year-old German driver has influenced from start-to-finish in his role as Infiniti’s Director of Performance. And a few words on that before we take a look at the sleek auto’s design.

My cynical colleagues have suggested publicly that Vettel’s title is no more than a marketing ploy, with Vettel filling no more than a celebrity spokesman role. But that’s most certainly not the case, based on my private conversations with some Infiniti engineers.

Just prior to my arrival for a drive with the young phenom on a French track this past spring, he had secretly put a number of Infiniti products and competitors through their paces and given immediate trackside input on suggested adjustments. In fact, one engineer told me Vettel is remarkable in the way he can do one lap and return with a complete commentary on how a car performed on every part of the track.

(If the F1 gig doesn’t work out there’s maybe a new career opp for him in the near future!)

The Q30 Concept is a fusion of coupe, hatchback, and crossover body styles and, like Vettel’s racecar, there’s liberal use of carbon fibre throughout. That makes it a very light, aerodynamic and thus potentially high-performing and economical car.

Interestingly, I’m told the designers combined Italian coachwork with the Japanese art of calligraphy to create the lightweight design. Inside, cream and bronze leather features with violet bespoke tailoring, along with contrasting matte and gloss finished metalwork.

Sculpted ceramics are integrated into the upper front seatbacks housing speakers for a “symphonic audio experience.” It offers a level of technologies and features not typically found in compact cars, such as the Infiniti InTouch infotainment system, which uses two touch screens.

Infiniti claims it expects significant growth in the compact premium segment among young-minded affluent customers. Note the reference to young minded.

“The Infiniti Q30 Concept is highly predictive of a new head-turning premium compact that we will launch in early 2015,” said Michael Bartsch, vice-president of Infiniti Americas.

“Research among the new generation of buyers – with Gen X and Gen Y soon to represent 80 per cent of the market – shows an increasing rejection of traditional notions toward premium cars. These buyers are less willing to connect size, presence and high-output power as key ingredients of the premium product. Rather, they’re looking more for balance, great design and outstanding execution.”

The Q30 will likely count the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the Lexus CT200h hybrid hatchback among its competitors. This car could be a game changer in its class.

Email: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Ross Bentley coaching upcoming young US racer Colin Braun.

Ross Bentley coaching upcoming young US racer Colin Braun. (Photo: Keith Morgan)

I keep hearing TV F1 commentary teams talking about the perfect race in relation to the now four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

As I watched the German driver for Infiniti-Red Bull race team take the chequered flag in India on Sunday, the repeated reference to his perfect race reminded me of another open-wheel racer.

Back in the early 1990s, Vancouver Indy racer Ross Bentley strived for what he called the ‘Perfect Drive’, not on the track but on the roads of B.C.

Ross, now coaching race drivers and street drivers in Washington state, always told me that he found the racetrack a safer place to drive. On the track he pretty much knew what other drivers were going to do, whereas drivers on the street were very unpredictable.

And I was reminded of that the other morning when a young driver whizzed by me in the curb lane, then cut in front and crossed two more lanes to turn left at an intersection just a block ahead. Of course, he didn’t signal when he got there, either!

Ross devised a little game that he played every day while travelling to and from work across town. The Perfect Drive Concept was designed to help drivers concentrate and I can’t help think it would be a great game for us all to play some 20 years on from when he first outlined the idea to me.

“The idea is to drive smoothly at a constant speed with minimal braking,” explains Ross, who tells me he still tries to achieve the Perfect Drive daily.

“To do so, you must anticipate light changes and ease off when you approach a stale green. You have to slow in such a way that if your passengers had their eyes closed they wouldn’t be aware of the exact point you stopped.”

Keeping a healthy distance between your car and the one you are following is key. Others do cut into the space but they disappear as fast as they arrive. And even if you ease off to open up the gap again, Ross figured if even 10 cars did that to you and stayed during the average trip you might lose a minute in travel time.

“The Perfect Drive can be ruined by others so I try to figure out what crazy things they might do and adjust accordingly.  If I have to brake jerkily in anticipation of the other driver’s move, I don’t deduct any points!”

However, if you hold up traffic or disrupt the flow then you deduct points. If you can let somebody in smoothly or provide an opportunity for somebody else to turn then you’re assisting the flow so he figured that was worth a few bonus points.”

“The Perfect Drive can be different for everybody and you can work out your own scoring technique. I keep it simple and figure if I drop four points then that was nowhere near the Perfect Drive.

I love his final comment: “Oh, and if you drop a point halfway through, you don’t give up and drive the rest of the way like a jerk.”

Give it a try, it’s fun.


Email: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Twitter: @ChangeGears

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