Zahir Rana did and found out during the first-ever Race the Base Challenge in 2010.
For those unaware, Race the Base is an event taking place at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Cold Lake in Cold Lake, Alta. The event provides car enthusiasts the rare opportunity to not only get a look at some of the world’s most incredible exotic cars, but it's also a chance for the owners of these exotic rides to finally cut loose and really see what their machines can do in a safe and contained environment.
Rana’s company, ZR Auto, teamed up with the Canadian military to put on this charity event back in 2010 and it turned out to be quite the success, highlighted by a race between an Enzo Ferrari and a CF-18 Hornet.
It’s been two years since then and after a slight mishap involving his car splashing into the Atlantic Ocean at the 2011 Targa Newfoundland, Rana and company is returning to Cold Lake this weekend to put on the 2012 edition of the Race the Base Challenge.
The biggest difference between the event from two years ago and this year, Rana says, is that he’s doing it on his terms.
“So I did [the Race the Base event] two years ago on two months notice and I put on an event that I thought I’d never do again because it was a lot of work,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “It was so much fun and everyone enjoyed it except for me because I thought I did a half-assed job.”
“So this year the air force approached me and said, ‘Let’s do it again Zahir, you did a great job [before] and we’ll make it a charitable event for the soldiers’ fund.’
“They gave me a year to prepare so I just wanted to finish what I started to meet my satisfaction, my way.”
One of the reasons why Rana wasn’t completely happy with how things went is because he didn’t know how things would run.
“Last time we went we had 83 cars,” Rana said. “Before, on two months notice, I was like, ‘How can I do this?’ But we did it where it was unorganized, from my viewpoint, because we didn’t know what to expect on the actual race day.
“Because they don’t give you the field to practice on, they don’t give you time trials a month or two before, you get there on the weekend, you move, you make it work, everything has to be in sync. Speed records weren’t set right, equipment wasn’t perfect, people were waiting, they were bored because there were 80 cars before they could get their ride.
“For me, if I was one of them, I’d be very peeved, but they were so happy because they get to drive 300 to 320 km/h, which they’d never done before, and feel safe. So, for me, it was frustrating because I could see I wouldn’t be satisfied if I was them.
“But they were, so I want to do an event where I will be satisfied and I know they will be blown away.”
Rana and his staff hope to accomplish this by providing more activities for the drivers to participate in and spectators to go to. These activities include a side-by-side standing mile, an individual top speed challenge, a time attack where two cars will be going on at the same time on separate courses, a wet drift competition, a donut contest and the actual race against one of the base's CF-18 Hornet.
Due to the incredible length and width of the runways at CFB Cold Lake, it’s possible this is the only event that spectators will be able to see so many different events on just one day.
Included in the list of cars that fans can see at the event is the McLaren MP4-12C, Novitec Ferrari F430, Corvette ZR1, Lamborghini Aventador and many more.
Regardless of how well or poorly Race the Base 2012 does, if it were to continue beyond this year it would have to be put on without Rana as he’s making this time the last time he does it because of a personal philosophy.
“I just do things every year… and I find things to do that I couldn’t do,” he said. “But once I’ve done them, I don’t repeat them.”
“I’m only doing Race the Base again because when I did it two years ago I wasn’t happy. So, I’m doing this for me. I want to make a happy moment. Then I will not need to do it again.”
Race the Base 2012 happens August 24-25 at the CFB Cold Lake in Cold Lake, Alta. For more info please visit www.racethebase.ca.