They came, they pinned the pedal to the metal, and now they're gone, but not before raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity.
Dream Wheels Weekend went off without a hitch, according to organizers. Rain stayed away and the runway dry, affording 85 drivers the opportunity to surpass 300 km an hour in a safe and controlled environment.
After Race the Base events at 4 Wing, the convoy of cars drove down Highway 28 to Bonnyville for a car show at the C2. The weekend wrapped up Saturday night with a gala at the C2.
Co-chairs of the organizing committee Mike and Sal Naim praised exotic car dealer Zahir Rana for his hard work in getting drivers up to the base to raise money for charities, as well as the Canadian Forces members who helped make events on base run smoothly.
Rana thanked the drivers for making the event happen. Rana services around half the 85 registered cars that came to Race the Base at his dealership in Calgary, ZR Auto. He said his drivers were "ecstatic" to participate. Drivers came from as far as Fort McMurray, Surrey, Washington, and Phoenix.
After the first day of practice rounds Rana felt confident in his upcoming race against the CF-18 Hornet, having hit 353 km an hour on the runway. "My main concern is to beat the jet at two o'clock," he said before the match on Saturday. "I think my chances are good, but you never know."
"Just to have the life-time opportunity to be beside one, side-by-side, I think for me is happiness," said Rana. Rana's optimism unfortunately did not translate to results, as once the race began, pilot Major Travis Brassington flew past Rana's Enzo Ferrari and won. The Hornet raced six other vehicles after and won each time.
"It's awesome to see all these cars up here," said base commander Col. David Wheeler. "Even though it's one of the coldest days we've had this summer, the crowds out here are huge. We're very happy to see this happening."
He noted that Dream Wheels Weekend got off to a good start a day early with Master-Cpl. Chris Downey's Bike Night at A & W Thursday, which raised money for the Military Families Resource Centre.
Lt.-Col. Rob Carter, tasked with making events run smoothly at the base, said events at Race the Base were outstanding. "The guys have huge smiles on their faces, so we know the drivers are loving it." He added that spectators were enjoying the show and meeting some of the drivers as they drove by the spectator area after the ripping down the runway.
Scott Ruzesky, president of Rite-Way Fencing, brought his Lamborghini Gallardo to Race the Base. He explained the four-wheel drive was one reason why he chose a Lamborghini over a Ferrari. "I appreciate the safety factor," he said.
"You can't ask for a more opportune place to really test out your car for top speed," he said. "You don't have to worry about any traffic or any other interference. That's an unique opportunity and makes it something that you don't get to do everyday." He added that the width and length of the runway made it ideal for Race the Base.
After practice rounds on Friday and a few more on Saturday, Ruzesky's odometer showed a top speed of 325 km per hour.
"One of the things that you'll find with most of these car owners is that they're proud of their cars but they're also happy to share them," he said.
Drivers paid $1,500 to use the runway and another $500 if they wanted to bring a passenger, which went into the pot for the Hearts for Healthcare, Bonnyville Health Foundation, Military Families Support Society, and Breast Cancer Foundation.
"It's great to see all of this for charity, but it's also great to see that we can put on an event for the community," Wheeler said.