Diving into Turn 1, I stand on the brake pedal, pulling the McLaren 570S down towards a reasonable speed. Flying through the downhill braking zone, the road drops off into a hard left and I’m back on the throttle. With nearly 5 km of winding, climbing, and cresting track ahead of me, I’m deep in British Columbia’s wine country turning hot laps on the incredible Area 27 racing circuit.
Located in the hills above Osoyoos, B.C., Area 27 is a cutting-edge race track 45 minutes from Penticton or some 400 km east of Metro Vancouver. Computer modeled to integrate with the natural topography, Area 27 is no backwoods dirt track—not only is it the only Canadian race track over 2 miles in length west of Ontario, but real race car drivers, including F1 Champion and legendary multi-series driver Jacques Villeneuve, founded the track and designed its 16 turns.
Officially opened in August of 2016, Area 27 can be accessed from Osoyoos via a short drive along vineyard-lined roads and then a steadily climbing backcountry road, the track sits well above any other areas of development. The path is remarkably varied, supporting a wide range of racing styles, from corporate track days to motorcycle racing. An assortment of corners including the incredible Turn 7, which has an uphill entry, a steeply banked corner, and a rushing downhill exit, make for interesting loops. A semi-blind mid-corner turn, Turn 7 is one of Area 27’s best features and encourages exacting turn-in and smooth braking.
Area 27 is a cutting-edge race track founded and designed by F1 Champion and legendary multi-series driver Jacques Villeneuve.
With each lap, my confidence grew and I saw progressively higher speeds on the trio of straightaways. Each pass on Turn 7 offered an opportunity to work on my braking and develop a sense of where the track would be once I was back on the power. After quite a few laps, I found the transition from Turns 10, 11, and 12 to be the most exciting in the light and spirited McLaren 570S. Turn 10 is a tight, right-hand sweeper that kinks sharply to a quick climb and left hand cut at 11 followed by a true low-speed hairpin at 12. Though I didn’t possess the skill (nor the guts), I was told that Turn 11 offers a bit of a jump, given the right combination of a fast car and a brave driver (the track’s own Academy 27 racing school, which provides on-track instruction various levels, may be able to help those interested in nailing a jump).
While any sunny track day with a McLaren is going to be good, Area 27 elevated the experience. Invited by McLaren Vancouver, I drove the 570S from Vancouver to Osoyoos, spent a day at Area 27, and drove back the next morning. The 570S is a remarkable car and Area 27 is an equally remarkable, accessible, and very entertaining track that will undoubtedly become a jewel of the West Coast racing scene, especially given its proximity to the U.S. border, B.C.’s venerable South Okanagan wine country, and a considerable offering of resorts and luxury experiences for which the area is known.
Currently working on the second of several developmental phases for the track and the surrounding facilities, Area 27 is expanding into karting and the construction of additional support structures in the coming seasons.
While track membership (some 300 families) is entirely sold out, Area 27 is taking additional applicants via a waitlist. If you want to get out of the city, see a bit of wine country, and turn a few laps on a modern world-class track, Area 27 should definitely be on your list.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter, here.