Legendary Vancouver Island music producer David Foster slides behind the wheel of a Ferrari

World-class Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit opens with salute to local racing legend

Victoria music legend David Foster and family on hand to unveil tribute to his legendary cousin, Island Indy racer Billy Foster

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 today.

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: nineteen turns in less than a minute and a half.

GobleCarved 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.

Vehicle 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.”

Foster may have racing in his family — and not just through Billy — but his association with the track at this time is mostly through its owners and their support of his charitable foundation.

But he snuck in a ride in the passenger seat beside his friend, Indy champion and all-time CART racing great Sullivan, who still has the gift, even at age 66.

“Danny took me out. I wanted to see what he could do with something like that,” Foster said, before adding he definitely wasn’t disappointed.

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.

“It’s a first-class operation. In our little town like Victoria, this is just incredible.”

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Just Posted

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

Alberni group focuses on stigmatization as biggest barrier to opioid crisis

Community session planned to raise dialogue on opioid crisis response

Cherry Creek firefighters mourn former deputy chief

Brian Brick is the second Alberni Valley firefighter to die of work-related cancer in January

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Most Read