For Sylvan Lake resident Brooke Carter, hitting the racetrack and sensing the power and speed of his Mazda RX-7 brings a rush like little else can.
Carter finished fourth in class (GTP4) and 28th overall last month at the Eurasia GT Invitational at the Edmonton Indy.
The event is hosted by the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club (NASCC) and is sponsored by Eurasia Automotive.
The series sees drivers from across Western Canada in one of the most exciting races of the weekend.
“I believe we had 47 cars in five classes that were all on the track at the same time, so it is extremely exciting,” he said. “These cars came from all over the place.”
The race also involves cars of all different makes and models with a wide range of horsepower-to-weight ratios, meaning there is lots of traffic, plenty of passing and lots of non-stop racing entertainment.
For Carter, 67, not making the podium didn’t do much to dampen his enthusiasm about the event. “I was two seconds a lap faster than last year which is huge,” he said.
“Last year, I got on the podium in my class. The year before I blew a transmission. The year before that I was on the podium, so I managed two out of three years on the podium,” he explains with a smile. “It’s an enormous amount of fun with huge camaraderie.”
Carter’s passion for racing stretches back to his late teens.
Originally from Calgary, he left Canada for about 20 years to live in Spain, and on his return to Canada he delved back into motor sport in the mid-1980s.
“I’ve always liked cars, and when we were living in Spain I never had any money so I was always fixing my own cars,” he recalled. “That’s where I learned how to do it. The car I have now I built from absolute scratch.”
It’s been quite the adventure over the years, with a few mishaps along the way for good measure.
“In 2008, I completely destroyed a race car on the track at the Indy.”
A couple of quotes he gave to a local reporter are classics. “I said of course I saw the wall – I hit it, didn’t I,” he said with a laugh. “The other comment I made was at the hospital. A doctor said ‘Mr. Carter, how fast were you going when you hit the wall?’ I said I was going as fast as I could. He gave me the obvious question and I gave the obvious answer.
“People say racing is a hobby, but it’s not a hobby. Collecting stamps is a hobby. This is a passion. It just gets into you. There’s also this intense camaraderie and an incredible trust. When you are going 120 miles per hour into a corner — door handle to door handle — you have to trust the guys. You get to know people very well.
“It’s also intense inside the car. You’re strapped in and there is such focus and concentration. My facial expression doesn’t even change for about 20 minutes unless I yell at somebody.
“People always say ‘How fast does your car go?’ But that’s not the question. I want my car to be a tenth of a second faster than the guy I’m chasing or the guy that is behind me. It’s not the speed per se — it’s how you go around the corners, smoothness, consistency, and hitting the same marks time after time after time. That’s what it’s all about.”
These days, Carter is concerned about the decreasing number of facilities in Alberta including the closure of Race City Motorsport Park in Calgary.
“It was an excellent facility, but in the past few years it had begun to deteriorate because the city decided they were going to close it.”
Carter said in past years it was the busiest track in North America — not by spectators but by usage. “It was phenomenal facility, but we lost it last year. We had our last race last September.”
Meanwhile, on the bright side, he’s gearing up for a few more highly-anticipated racing events over the next several weeks.
“This winter, myself and couple of other people spent an awful lot of time putting together a proposal to Octane Management,” he said.
“We put it together on behalf of the Alberta Race Car Association and the Northern Alberta’s Sports Car Club. We said ‘You’ve got this racetrack and we lost ours — could we use yours?’ Lo and behold, they agreed to it.
“Rather than having a bleak future of racing this summer, we actually have three race weekends coming up on the Indy track.”
The races are set for Aug. 11-12, Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 8-9. Had the deal not been struck, there would have been no other racing events in Alberta for the rest of the year, he said.
Word spread quickly about the races among the drivers at the Edmonton Indy last month, and they are indeed excited for more opportunities to burn up the tracks.
“We are quite fortunate. Everybody is excited to be able to come back to the same track in a few weeks.”