Stars on hand for opening of motorsport circuit in Duncan

David Foster was 12 years younger than Billy Foster and in awe in the way only the junior cousin of a family legend could be.

  • Jun. 8, 2016 7:00 p.m.

John McKinley Black Press

David Foster was 12 years younger than Billy Foster and in awe in the way only the junior cousin of a family legend could be.

From the moment he first slid behind the wheel of a performance race car, Billy had “it,” the type of rare talent David said would have him lapping people just eight laps into a race, the type of talent that, in 1965, made him the first Canadian to ever qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Gifted with a different set of elite fine motor skills, David left Victoria for England that year, at age 16, carving the early steps of a career that would eventually lead to 16 Grammy Awards.

He was there, watching from afar, when Billy roared his way to 28 career starts in the USAC championship car series, including 10 top-10 finishes, highlighted by a second-place result in Atlanta in 1966.

He was there, as well, when he heard the tragic news.

Billy, a close friend of racing legend Mario Andretti, died while practicing for the Riverside NASCAR race in 1967, never fulfilling his destiny of giving Vancouver Island its first Indy 500 champion. David was among several members of the extended Foster clan to be on hand Monday at the shiny new Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, where the track’s grand opening got underway with the dedication of a plaque to Billy Foster, now a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.

Foster was grateful for the opportunity to salute his late cousin, whose career resonated across the nation 50 years ago.

“We were so proud as a city, a province and even a country, and as a family,” he said.

The tang of cobalt tire smoke mingled with the savoury charred scent of roast whole pig as about 500 people gathered at the race track northwest of Duncan as Vancouver Island’s premier new attraction officially put its foot to the floor Monday.

A parking lot packed bumper-to-bumper with Porsches, Audis, BMWs and Mercedes gave birth to a crowd that mingled jumpsuit-clad daredevils with polished men and women in well-cut pants, dresses and hair, as a whip-crack support team coordinated fine food and high-speed motorsport demonstrations.

Foster and his celebrity reality TV star children Brody Jenner, Brandon Jenner and Erin Foster, joined Boston Pizza mogul and Dragon’s Den star Jim Treliving, rubbing elbows in the well-lit, expansive clubhouse, or track-side, with elite race car drivers including Max Papis, Brody Goble and Danny Sullivan, and some of the highest-ranking officials of the Canadian automobile industry.

Many of the VIPs slid behind the wheel, or into the passenger seats of some of the finest high-performance import production cars available for a taste of the track, before and after the professionals demonstrated just what the 2.3-kilometre course is capable of: 19 turns in less than a minute and a half.

Carved into 50 acres on a gentle hillside facing Highway 18 to Lake Cowichan, the VIMC is the culmination of a dream launched by the GAIN Dealer Group, Vancouver Island’s association of fine import automobile dealerships.

Essentially, it is an exclusive country club for fans of a sport that offers a bit more of an adrenaline boost than your average 18 holes of golf. Members can open up their own street-legal, classic, sport or performance cars on the track in way they never could on the road. And if they live halfway across the world, the VIMC team will arrange to have those vehicles transported here and stored in a climate-controlled unit on site.

High-performance driving experience is not necessary, but drivers will be limited by the track manager based on their car and experience, and lessons are available. The track is designed with driver safety in mind. V

ehicle maintenance is part of the package and a computer system monitors track safety, records lap time and charts driver performance in a way designed to give members tips on how to improve their speed.

Memberships range between $48,000 and $200,000 and the course is being marketed to potential clients from around the world as something they won’t be able to find anywhere else.

“What they’ve built is just magnificent,” Foster said. “It’s unparalleled. There are only two or three like it anywhere.”

The music industry legend, who remains a huge booster of Victoria and Vancouver Island, is confident the track will be a big draw to Vancouver Island and a huge year-round success.

Just Posted

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read