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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

A 45-metre tall call tower is proposed for Westhills Stadium. (Black Press Media file photo)
New cell tower proposed for Westhills Stadium in Langford

Tower will increase capacity in congested network: staff report

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read