by Deborah Rogers –
Really my only problem with my first visit to the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit was that I had to leave the Porsche Boxster behind when I left. I was just starting to feel comfortable heading into the bends at speed, following the tire tracks of the car in front, and gracefully cutting across the corner toward its apex. Then I had to step away from the car and say goodbye to my new driving friends.
Conceived as a private membership club where performance driving enthusiasts can come together to enjoy a unique facility, the Motorsport Circuit is situated in the Cowichan Valley, outside Duncan. The 2.3-kilometer road course is comprised of seven different track configurations with exciting elevation changes. “What Disneyland is for children, our driving facility will be for people who love performance driving,” is the promise of the GAIN motor group, who represent the track as well as dealerships in Victoria such as Porsche, Audi, BMW, Alfa Romeo, FIAT, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Subaru and Volkswagen. The group now has a Preferred Owners Program, giving customers exclusive invitations to private events like Performance Driving Programs, New Owners Nights, Customer Appreciation Events, and New Vehicle Launch Parties. I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch of the Porsche 718 and the new Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Each visit was its own exciting opportunity. I have been to Disneyland, and the chance to try the new Porsche 718 alongside some older models probably does compare in terms of anticipation and adrenaline! After a tour of the facility and an amazing lunch in the clubhouse, we set out in pairs on the roads of the Cowichan valley. Driving in convoy on a route including rural, residential and highway allowed a true road test of the feel and response of the cars. With a leader on walkie talkie, we were encouraged to try the different drive modes as we drove the new Boxster 718 and Caymans from the last few years. Swapping drivers and models at pit stops along the way, I wondered how we looked from the outside as we drove in a line of eight Porsches up the Island Highway! We were respectful of the road conditions, maintaining safe speeds, but still, there’s nothing quite like the “grummm” of all those engines as we waited at the lights to pull on to the highway.
Back at the track we were taken through a “dynamic driving” test with a chicane of cones and forced emergency stop. Then it was onto the track for some real driving. There’s a slow wind up as lap by lap the pace increased, always following a professional driver’s instructions over the radio. The changes in elevation added another element to anticipate and required skill (and some nerve) to negotiate at speed. But wow, was it fun!
Returning a couple of months later for the launch of the Alfa Romeo Guilia, I was more comfortable. They are beautiful cars, and it was smart planning by the dealership to offer test drives of comparable cars by Audi, Mercedes and BMW at the same time, allowing drivers to fully appreciate the differences between each. The staff on both visits were knowledgable, friendly and enthusiastic, ensuring everyone enjoyed themselves. It is possible to buy a “Day at the Track” experience, something that would make any car lover very happy I’m sure.
The adrenaline flooding my system combined with the extreme concentration left me feeling a little shaky after my day at the track. I needed a cup of tea and some deep breaths before I headed back over the Malahat – back to my real, sadly Porsche-less, world.
For more information, visit www.islandmotorsportcircuit.com.