Area 27 into high gear

The asphalt went down last year, but the Area 27 motor club held its grand opening Saturday in Oliver, attracting several hundred people.

A membership to the private speedway costs $45,000, but gets you access to a track designed by Canadian motorsport icon Jacques Villeneuve. So far, 250 members have jumped at the opportunity, leaving the club just 50 memberships from selling out.

“We have members from Switzerland, Germany, Mexico, every province in the country, we have a member from that province,” visionary and general manager Bill Drossos said. “People are coming here and buying vacation homes in the area or thinking of moving here when they retire.”

After doing just about everything a person can in car racing, Villeneuve said he has always wanted to design a racetrack, and jumped at the opportunity when approached by Drossos.

He took his first laps of his creation this weekend.

“You never think that you know the track, there is always something to figure out, a way to go a little bit faster,” he said. “Very happy with this and now comes the next step, we will need some buildings at some point, maybe organize some racing events as well.”

The builder behind the track, professional racer and president of Lake Excavating Trevor Seibert, said he expects garages, a clubhouse and small convention space will be added in the coming years.

The track is situated on the reserve lands of the Osoyoos Indian Band.

Chief Clarence Louie applauded Seibert, who employed upwards of 70 per cent band members. He also thanked the investors for coming forward and working through “that dinosaur of a bureaucracy called Indian Affairs” to invest in the property.

“Small town Oliver, we don’t get to have people like Jacques in our backyards. I always tell people, when’s the last time before Area 27, you saw a $500k or $1M car hanging around Oliver?” Louie told a laughing crowd.

“So this is a big deal, this is a very big deal for our region,” he added.

The economic benefits of the track are already coming in, with Area 27 estimating $500k in hotel bookings this year alone directly tied to the track.

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