"I've got him, Crack," said Major Travis Brassington, deputy commanding officer of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, about five seconds into the race of a CF-18 Hornet against the Ferrari Enzo.
"Great race, great job," Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Carter, wing operations officer, replied by radio to the airborne pilot from the centre of the 4 Wing airfield.
The race between Ferrari and Hornet took place Aug. 28, 2010 at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta.
Both high-performance machines took off intent on out-performing the other, with minimal weight and well-tuned engines but in the end, the Hornet overtook the Enzo. At take-off the CF-18 Hornet had about 2,500 kilograms of fuel on board – meaning that it had greater than a 1:1 thrust to weight ratio; it could have accelerated and taken off virtually straight up had the pilot wanted it to do so.
Approximately 5,000 spectators attended Race the Base to check out one of the world's top-performing cars open its engine on a 3,840 metre runway. Truly a magnificent machine, the Enzo reached speeds of more 350 kilometres an hour throughout its runs, roaring with power to the delight of the crowds.
“We enjoy the opportunity to bring such an event to the community members of the Lakeland and to connect with Canadians,” said Colonel Dave Wheeler, wing commander.
"The weekend had been a great success with 83 drivers and exotic cars on site. The opportunity to open our car engines at a military venue is appreciated and we know this is something that may happen only once in a lifetime," said Zahir Rana, owner of ZR Auto, an exotic car repair and maintenance shop in Calgary.
"The weekend has been wonderful and clearly someone from up above has been watching over this event."
In true Cold Lake style, the August weekend was cool and blustery but no-one’s spirits were dampened, and the drivers indicated that their cars were performing well in the cool air conditions.
"This has been a unique opportunity to organize this event with other community representatives while at the same time demonstrating the military might of 4 Wing," said LCol Rob Carter. "Working with the City of Cold Lake, ZR Auto and the car drivers has truly been a pleasure that has enabled us to raise significant amounts of money for charity."
The money raised from Race the Base goes to four charities: the Bonnyville Hospital Oncology Centre, Cold Lake's Hearts for Healthcare program, national breast cancer awareness and the Military Families Support Society.
The Military Families Support Society (MFSS) at 4 Wing was recently established to raise money for initiatives that support Air Force families. The most pressing initiative that the society currently manages is the Art Smith Aviation Academy.
"Schools are a cornerstone of communities and with so many young families living on base, it has been clear to me that a school on base is a priority for the 4 Wing community," said Col Wheeler. "Race the Base and the opening of the Art Smith Aviation Academy are directly linked because the money raised from the event will help operate the school."
Supporting community-based events, standing up the MFSS and opening the aviation-themed academy at 4 Wing is in line with direction from 1 Canadian Air Division.
“Our families don’t sign up to serve in the Canadian Forces, but they sacrifice stability when they stick by us through multiple postings and deployments,” said Major-General Yvan Blondin, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division headquartered in Winnipeg. “When we post or promote our personnel to a position in a Wing and community new to them, we need to be able to tell their families they will be able to find a family doctor, quickly re-enroll their children in childcare and live in affordable housing regardless of where they serve. We won’t have achieved mission success until we can say that with confidence every time.”
Throughout their career, Air Force personnel can be tasked to serve at wings and bases located in major cities, smaller urban centres or remote communities, where access to family services can vary widely. Air Force members have heard the challenges their colleagues must overcome to support their military families, established standards to strive for, and shared strategies to work creatively with local civilian agencies to build mutually supportive partnerships and make the most of limited resources.