A parking lot near the Red Deer airport was transformed Saturday afternoon into an adrenaline-filled course.
The smell of burning rubber and the sound of revving engines filled the air at times during the first autoslalom this year for the Red Deer Sports Car Club.
In autoslalom, drivers compete to see how fast they can drive their cars around a mini-course of pylons. Each pylon that is knocked over means a two second penalty.
According to organizers it isn’t the size of a driver’s engine, but the precision of their driving that matters.
A course is often one to 1.5 kilometres long and can have 25 to 35 direction changes. The course can take 25 or more seconds to complete, with each vehicle going one-at-a-time through it. Drivers can reach 60 km/h or more. In Red Deer each event costs members $20.
“It puts a smile on your face,” said Fred Cardwell, president of the Red Deer Sports Car Club.
A passenger feels like they’re on a carnival ride as the driver maneuvers through the course.
Cardwell used to go to Edmonton with his Mazda Miata to take part in autoslalom, but last year he and others started the club so they could do it closer to home. Now driving a Porsche, when he isn’t competing in autoslalom he works as a law instructor at Red Deer College.
“Handling is the most important part as opposed to power,” Cardwell said. Most of the vehicles at the event — ranging from a vintage Mini Cooper to a Honda S 2000, a Mustang GT and a Lotus — were equipped with their original engines.
Terry Johns, one of the members of the club, said autoslalom allows people to drive their cars in a way they never could on the road and test their skills against other people.
“It’s all in a controlled environment. It’s much safer,” said Johns, who is known for his ability to maneuver his Lotus and Caterham.
Cars are inspected before being allowed to take part, participants wear helmets and seatbelts as they drive through the course.
Johns said there is a great camaraderie among the drivers, who share what they know to help others improve their skills.
The group’s first public event is set for May 24 at the track not far from the Red Deer Airport near the corner of 25 Street and 37 Avenue, in Springbrook. The Red Deer Sports Car Club has another event planned June 21 at Westerner Park southwest parking lot.
Memberships are $30 and forms are available at www.rdscc.ca.