The sound of more than just logging trucks rumbling to and from Cowichan Lake will be audible along Highway 18 starting this summer after the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit officially opens in June.
Track operations manager and former lake area resident Brent Evans addressed the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce on March 18 as part of the chamber’s monthly general meeting, updating local business owners and members of the public on the exclusive speedway’s development and the potential impacts for the surrounding area.
“We want to do as much spin-off as we possibly can, whether it’s tours or promoting the lake and all of that can happen,” said Evans.
“We’re really putting out a lot [of information] about what there is to do on Vancouver Island… We’re working with our IT department on how to share links through our website to share what there is to do throughout the Cowichan Valley.”
The Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit was conceived of by GAIN premier automobiles dealer group, which has several dealerships across the island.
“Our dealer group is really passionate about performance driving. We sell a lot of performance cars. And we wanted a way for our clients to really appreciate what they’ve purchased, what they owned, but also to know how to operate them in a much safer, more controlled manner,” said Evans.
For the past four years, his company has been renting the Western Speedway outside of Victoria for clients to drive their vehicles, but two years ago decided to explore building their own location.
He said the site on Highway 18 just past the Tansor Road junction fell into their laps and was just what they were looking for.
The circuit, designed by German engineer and former formula one racer Hermann Tilke’s company, will offer 2.3 kilometres of track with 19 turns and 25 metres of elevation change. Evans described it as a “busy technical track,” and the property will house anywhere from 200 to 400 cars on site for owners.
“The acoustics are going to be very enjoyable for those at the site,” said Evans. “For those who live nearby, we’re going to operate on normal hours… Hopefully it won’t be too intrusive.”
The circuit will also feature a 15,000 square-foot clubhouse with a full kitchen facility, locker room, classrooms and a presentation centre.
“We really want to have two or three days of open house before we get rolling so you can all come in and see what’s there,” said Evans, who explained the circuit will be a members-only facility. “The best way to compare it would be to a private golf course.”
The circuit will cap its membership at 419, with an additional 50 corporate memberships and 30 for founding members. Evans said he anticipates a large number of their membership will come from the Pacific Northwest, but also Asia, Germany and other parts of Europe.
Evans said he expects that the circuit’s proximity to the lake district will be a benefit for his company and for businesses of the area, too.
“Underlying our theme of building a motorsport circuit: ‘It’s great if you love to come and drive, but if your family doesn’t have a good time, how often are you going to get to come back?’”
In addition to the open house Evans mentioned, locals will also have a chance to see the facility on Aug. 16, when the circuit hosts the 2016 Vancouver Island Motor Gathering, a family-friendly fundraiser showcasing classic, unique and custom cars and motorcycles.
He also said there are currently no plans to host races at the circuit, noting there are no grandstands at the location and races are not part of their business plan.