Pedal to the metal at Race the Runway
I’m rolling thunder, pouring rain I’m coming on like a hurricane
Black clouds only threatened but there was plenty of thunder on Runway 24 at the Russ Beach Airport near Smiths Falls on Saturday as nearly 100 powerful machines seemed set to take flight.
While the likes of ACDC were cranked on the sound system, the real music was the sound of roaring engines filling air redolent with freshmown grass and high-octane gas as exotic autos, muscle cars and tuners hit the tarmac for Race the Runway.
The event, in its sixth year, also featured about 100 cars on display, including a 2016 Pagani Huayra worth a cool $3.5 million that had the crowd snapping pictures like paparazzi.
But this is no elitist event, said Peter O’Blenis, one of three co-chairs of the Race the Runway, which drew everyone from regular folks itching to put pedal to the metal to high-end car pros, all sharing talk, tips and tools.
“We all have the same addiction,” O’Blenis said. “We love fast cars.”
The need for speed is something you’ve got — or you don’t.
“If you have to ask, I can’t explain it,” O’Blenis said. “It’s innate. It’s a visceral reaction, not just the speed — the shape, the engineering. I think it’s probably something you’re born with.”
Making his point nearby was nine-year-old Cameron Tinguy eyeing a bright green Lamborghini. “My dream one’s right there,” he said.
The Race the Runway format is simple. The cars and bikes rumble to a staging area in groups of 20.
One at a time, they pull onto the runway and reverse onto a steel plate to “burn out” their tires, making them stickier so they can accelerate faster.
Then the cars — classic American muscle cars, luxury Italian models, a few soupedup Volkswagen Golfs — roar off, with their speed measured at the half-mile mark.
After that point, they have just a quarter-mile of runway left on which to slow down. Small planes take off at about 100 km/h but by early afternoon the runway had seen speeds of 300 km/h.
The Ottawa driver of a Nissan GT-R with 1280 horsepower (it cost “about a house, depending on what part of town”) described the experience as like being aboard a rocket with G-forces pinning you to your seat.
Meanwhile, a Kawasaki bike lived up to the moniker crotch rocket with a 298 km/h run.
“It’s like going on an insane roller-coaster ride,” O’Blenis said. “That runway at 240 km/h starts to feel very, very narrow. We’ve had cars going over 300 km/h. A quarter of a mile disappears in a few seconds.”
One hot-rodder packed a parachute to help him make that stop while a trio of fire trucks stood by — just in case.
“We’re here on standby,” explained Montague Township firefighter Craig Barr, as colleagues manned a charity barbecue at the event, which has raised more than $200,000 for the airport and local charities over five years.
“We hope the rescue tools stay in the truck.”
Steve and Patti Reeson brought their bright blue 2015 Corvette Stingray and its 460 horses to do what it can’t on the drive from Whitby.
When ungoverned by speed traps and traffic, the $90,000 car zooms past 200 km/h.
“It satisfies your need for speed,” Patti explained.
One of the participants smokes his tires before the race to get more traction.
Sophia Seccaspina, 3, sits in the driver’s seat of her father’s Lamborghini Aventador at Race the Runway yesterday. Below, a Bugatti. Need we say more?