A TRACK LIKE NO OTHER
Designed, Engineered & Constructed by Professional Racer, Trevor Seibert
Design and Engineering
Late in the fall of 2012, I got a call from my friend Bill Drossos, I hadn’t heard from Bill in probably 15 years, he wanted to run the idea of building a road circuit near Oliver on Osoyoos Indian Band land. My first instinct was that Bill obviously needed psychiatric help, however he was very convincing that as a team we could make this a reality. He informed me that he had also had discussions with his long time friend Jacques Villeneuve, who I also knew as we had raced against each other many years ago, and that Jacques was on board with the venture. The three of us eventually agreed that we would work in collaboration to design what would become Area 27.
Jacques, Bill and I spent many hours on the phone, emailing and walking the property sharing thoughts on what the design should provide. We discussed at length how it needed to work with the property we had and what aspects were required keeping in mind that we wanted the track to be constructed in a way to hold international events as well as be safe and inviting to motorsports enthusiasts who may not have ever spent any time on a race track before. We couldn’t lose sight of who our members would be.
Armed with simple drawings that were nothing more than a sharpie scribbled over an aerial photo, the conclusions of discussions during multiple walks through knee high grass and a few hair raising rides with the three of us packed into my Polaris side by side to ‘test’ our layout it was time for me to begin the detailed work of engineering what would become Area 27.
Having raced on a great number of the noteworthy tracks of North America it was always evident to me as a driver which tracks were always the most enjoyable. It was clear to me that the best tracks to this day are largely those that were constructed many years ago. I had to think about why that is, the answer… technology. To me, as with the cars of today, technology has taken something away from the performance driving purist, gone are the days when the operator of the dozer would follow the natural contours of the land. Vertical profiles, corner radius’, apex locations etc. were all to be realized after the track was constructed and not pre-determined. This is how most Canadian backroads were built in those days as well, many still remain today and it’s those backcountry roads that the purist still seeks out today in the absence of an available motorsports facility. It was with these governing thoughts that I made a promise to myself at the outset that I would use technology to my advantage and not let it destroy a promising design. In a world where racetrack design has gone down the path of perfect straightaways attached to endless numbers of constant radius corners and vertical profiles drowning in boredom I would present something completely different. I wouldn’t allow myself to get caught designing from the usual shopping list. It would appear that many designers prefer to list all of the typical corners you’d find on a circuit…double apex, increasing radius, decreasing radius, constant radius etc. then attempt to find a way to place them into their design. I would take a different approach, I would engineer the track in a way that made sense then afterword’s say “look at that…a double apex”. Trying to copy a famous corner from another track was also something I would not get enticed into doing, if one of our corners reminds you of one somewhere else it is simply co-incidental. I would use technology as it should be utilized. To plan fluid transitions with a unique way of utilizing spirals, push the limits on vertical curves and position them properly, use super elevation effectively, plan multiple passing opportunities and sequence the sections of the circuit in an appropriate way.
A Lap with the Engineer
Halfway down the front straight you’ll pass start/finish accelerating slightly downhill to enter Turn 1 while cresting over a vertical curve. At this point you will turn in and the car will get light, challenging the driver to be smooth with brake application and steering inputs. You will feel the compression of the corners low point prior to the apex and experience the compounding effect of uphill profile and 8% super elevation. Turn 1 has quickly become one of the favourites among drivers and when done correctly it will add several important miles per hour for the exhilarating pull down Area 27’s longest straightaway. Taking a few moments to enjoy the uphill acceleration it’s time to get relaxed and prepare for the fasted turn on the circuit. Searching for the braking cues into the blind entry of Turn 2 you will have to concentrate on completing the braking in a straight line before the steering inputs to take over. With Turn 2 being blind, downhill and very fast all at the same time it’s not the place to experiment with trail braking. If you can master this corner your lap times will benefit profoundly. Exiting Turn 2 you’ll be looking for the long braking zone into Turn 3, if you are looking to pass your buddy that’s being a bit pokey this a great opportunity as the braking zone is long, a lot of speed needs to be diffused and Turn 3 was designed and engineered to create multiple lines. If they want to take away the inside then no problem you’ll be happy to take the outside as the corner radius is wider and there is no super elevation offered anywhere in this corner. Up the short straightaway into Jacque's Corners, Turn 4, 5A and 5B you’ll enter into the most sedate looking but arguably the most frustrating series of turns at Area 27. Jacques, Bill and I each selected an area of the track where we would be solely responsible for the design criteria without being influenced by the others. Jacques wanted his corners to follow the existing ground profile as he felt it naturally had the attributes that would make it a challenging section. The only real decision to be made after that was the horizontal layout and the turn radius’ which he had us do collectively. The final result, enter Turn 4 looking for a later than expected apex, with the undulating nature of these corners the car will wash out as it gets light through 4 if you apex too soon. Do it right and expect the car to naturally push to the outside of the short chute between 4 and 5A where you’ll be looking to the end of the outside curbing to pinpoint your turn in. Modulating your speed appropriately in this section will allow you to apex 5A correctly and make 5B flat out, do it wrong and you’ll hear Jacques chuckling away in your mind at your frustrations. Wide open throttle and downhill towards Turn 6 you’ll be entering my signature series of turns. Turn 6 is the most expanded use of spirals on the entire circuit. True to intention, good luck getting everyone to agree where the exact turn in point of this corner is. I designed this corner with the addition of an aggressive vertical curve. As you near the exit of Turn 6 you’ll already be feeling the effects of super elevation holding the car on line when the vertical profile will compress you into your seat. All of these aspects in combination promote significant G-Forces but don’t spend too much time perfecting your grin Turn 7A will be quickly sneaking up on you. A steep uphill braking zone will greet you but the turn in point will be a challenge as most of the visual is looking uphill into the neighboring vineyard and the track surface blindly fades away to the left over the crest. There is a very short straight between 7A and 7B but at speed it is only recognizable as a long arcing double apex. I spent many hours designing and re-designing the compound geometry of Turn 7 and I believe I finally got it right. Get the braking, turn in and required patience of 7A behind you, gently squeeze the throttle all the way to the floor during the downhill exit out of 7B and get rewarded by the massive G-forces and acceleration you’ll experience through one of the steepest super elevations offered on any road circuit in the world….nothing boring here folks! Taking a breather down the straightway into Turn 8 you’ll arrive at another of the many opportunities to pass, stay mid track out of 8 so you will be positioned correctly as you rise up the steep hill into the completely blind entry of Turn 9. Disappearing asphalt and blue sky will leave you searching for a reference for a turn in point. The distant 7,900’ peak of Chopaka Mountain in Washington State may be your chosen reference. As you exit Turn 9 once again you will have to work diligently to get your car back to the left hand side as you accelerate down the hill setting up for a demanding series of corners starting with Turn 10. The importance of Turn 10 to your lap times can’t be stressed enough, you will have to find the late apex in this corner that will be signified by throttle position. If you find yourself lifting anytime after you apex you’ll know that something went wrong during entry and massive time will be given away as you fight to get back on line. Having proper execution of 10 behind you, you will be carrying a ton of momentum into Turn 11. Another of the turns that don’t appear to be much on paper but a bit of engineering will surprise you, I chose to play around with K-Value, an engineering term that describes the rate of change in a vertical curve relative to distance. Carry significant speed as you crest Turn 11 and you’ll get introduced to K-Value. The car will get very light and since I placed the apex near the location of the crest you may experience the rear of the car wanting to ‘step out’. Try to relax through this section as it’s a very exciting feature and not as daunting as it sounds. Concentrate on straightening out your exit and modulate your throttle accordingly to keep the car under you and Turn 11 will become a breeze. Out of 11 and into the downhill braking zone of Turn 12 you will have another great opportunity to overtake drivers in either lane. This turn is an increasing radius and leads to our second longest straightaway on the circuit so it is very important to exit with all possible speed. More than one line is offered through Turn 12, if the inside line is occupied then drive it deep on the left and get your turning completed early to overtake on the inside on exit. Bets will be lost as drivers try to convince me that Turn 12 is off camber but I can assure you that it is perfectly flat, the downhill run into the entry is what will mislead you. The infield straight is your opportunity for a mental break, use this time to take a deep breath before you finish off a great lap. Entering Turn 13 get your braking done prior to the turn in and once pointed in you will be able to squeeze the throttle slowly to the floor as you meet the apex. Back to the edge of the track on exit, hard on the brakes and downshifting for Turn 14, get off the brake peddle before adding steering input or the trail braking and downhill entry into 14 will cause your car to understeer. The early line through 14 is near mid track and it will seem like you are too wide waiting for the very late apex. Departing 14 and already having a visual on the entry to Turn 15 look again to be mid track between these two corners. Too far to the left and you won’t be able to get back to the apex of 15, too far to the right and an early apex will make a mess of this section. Properly hitting the late apex of Turn 15 will set you up nicely for the uphill run through Turn 16 cresting the hill and crossing the start/finish line to celebrate another perfect lap of Area 27.