Speed Demons

By Peter Ferrucci on June 25 2014

Imagine you have an interest that borders on obsession. It conjures excitement
into the small hours of the morning, making sleep elusive. It is an abyss, gently
drawing in most all of your available time and money. Over time, this escalation
of commitment causes others to question your reasoning and no matter how
concise your explanation, you simply cannot make them understand.

You confer with professionals and fellow enthusiasts the world over as their experience helps you avoid costly missteps. Eventually, your journey reaches its end you`re left to marvel at how far you`ve come, the distance a testament to your sacrifice and determination. Sadly, no one outside of a handful of friends and supporters will ever know about it. If you think this is tragic, you now know what it is like to build, tune, and race sports cars in northern British Columbia; or what it was like.

In late 2013, a handful of local sports car enthusiasts discontent with the lack of cohesive automobile culture in Prince George decided it was time to begin a change. It’s not that there was a lack of fellow enthusiasts but that the northern BC communities’ largely fragmented sports car scene consisted of pockets of friends who, like the circles of a Venn diagram that nearly overlapped, existed independently. Utilizing the power of the social media mainstay, Facebook, two groups began an endeavor to bring these individuals together. The first, Prince George Cars & Coffee, builds on the SoCal phenomenon where drivers meet at a coffee shop every week or two to show off and check out cars you simply will not see 6 days a week. From the Facebook page, “We are an open community of car lovers with no restriction on make, model or country of origin. We simply want to create a local group of people that like getting together once or twice a month to talk cars and show off their hard work.” With over 150 members to their page and between 20 and 30 regulars attending gatherings, this collective is already gaining some palpable momentum.

The second page, Norspeed, caters to those drivers whose primary focus is just that, driving. “Norspeed is a cooperative collective of driving fanatics who wish to practice their craft in a safe, controlled, and above all else, fun environment.” Organizers are working with facilities managers to host 3 to 6 events at 3 local venues where drivers will be able to explore the limits of their vehicles and improve their driving abilities. The highlight of their 2014 season will be on Canada Day when group members make their pilgrimage to the 2.7km road course at Castrol Raceway for a track day (where participants are able to drive their street cars at speed on a race track and receive coaching and feedback from seasoned sports car drivers and instructors) hosted by the Edmonton based performance driving program, Track Junkies. Moving forward, Norspeed’s purpose will be to take high performance driver education (HPDE) in northern British Columbia to another level with local HPDE events featuring professional instruction, competitive local races, and a large annual race. Culture does not simply occur instantly, it must be cultivated from the members of a community.

If the initial level of interest displayed after only a few months is any indication, the Norspeed and Prince George Cars & Coffee crew have definitely started a movement toward building that culture. As T.E. Lawrence wrote, “Big things have small beginnings.”

PETER FERRUCCI

A2014Norm Coyne