“Highway to the Danger Zone” played over the loudspeakers, setting the mood as the exotic cars took their positions and the Hornet prepared for wheels up. Expectations were high as crowds gathered along the runway and surrounded the big screen televisions. The roar of the CF-18 mixed with the rumble of the exotic cars; the ultimate performance showdown was on.
It was no contest. The CF-18 Hornet, piloted by Major Marco Raaijmakers, Deputy Commanding Officer of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, handily beat all three exotic cars. During the race, one car reached 380 km/hr—the fastest a car has gone on the runway.
“It was fun, but too short,” laughed Maj Raaijmakers. “The only one that I thought would have a bit of a chance was the car from the standing start. As I released the brakes, I saw I had jumped ahead of him and stayed ahead of him … I was actually giggling.”
Race the Base 2012 took place on August 25. Several thousand spectators came to check out the world’s top performing cars reach top speeds on the 3,840-metre runway at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. In addition to the cars, visitors had the opportunity to check out the CF-18 Hornet up close, along with other Canadian Forces equipment like the Coyote armoured vehicle.
“It’s great for the community,” said 4 Wing commander, Colonel Patrice Laroche. “Whenever we can put something together that’s fun for the whole family, while bringing in something new and exciting, we do that. It’s also a great opportunity to raise some money for charity, for our people, our military families and the local community. [It’s] just a great day.”
Families had many opportunities for fun. There were car events throughout the airfield, including a road course, wet drift zone and motorcycle demonstrations. The Personnel Support Programs (PSP) Boot Camp Challenge bouncy castle was set up in the kid zone, along with colouring books.
The Jiffy Jeep demonstration team performed throughout the day, disassembling and then re-assembling a jeep in less than four minutes. Visitors could also purchase souvenirs from their day at Race the Base, along with memorabilia from 4 Wing unit kit shops.
The hard work of the organizing committee paid off big time. The blustery weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the drivers, spectators or volunteers, and the rain held off so races could go ahead as planned.
“It actually feels really stable, just great out there,” said driver Roberto Giannini, whose Diablo roadster reached over 300 km/hr. “It’s amazing how much of a vapour trail we actually throw back … it feels really smooth.”
The event was a great chance to race for charity. The main thrust was to support the 4 Wing Morale and Welfare Fund, which delivers programs, activities and services such as physical fitness and recreation to military members and their families. Additional money raised will also go to support the Canadian Forces Soldier On Fund, the Tri-Town Emergency Food Bank and Hearts for Healthcare.
Each driver paid an entrance fee to participate and many drivers graciously took winners of the Dream Ride Auctions out onto the runway for the ride of a lifetime. In addition, the three runs against the CF-18 alone amassed over $10,000 for charity.
“We’ve been very successful,” said wing operations officer Lieutenant-Colonel Kirk Soroka. “The weather changed in our favour and the CF-18s crushed the cars, yet again … All the drivers were super excited [and the event] exceeded their expectations. I know that the military folks who volunteered enjoyed the events as well.”
While the cars were able to show off on the runway, there is just no comparison for the skill and technology of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s finest.