Welcome to the Diamond Rally
words by Justin Mastine-Frost
Photography by William Luk / Mayowill Photography
In an eardrum-shattering cacophony of high-revving V10 and V12 engines, Vancouver’s Diamond Rally was once again off to a good start as drivers rocketed off to Whistler on May 30th, 2015. Rendezvousing at Brian Jessel BMW, supercar owners and fanatics alike packed the dealership lot, sometimes as many as three cars deep, in order for the broad assortment of vehicles to line up for the event. It has recently been said that Vancouver, British Columbia contains more supercars per capita than any other city in the world, and a quick look around the staging grounds suggests this is clearly the case. A record 131 cars made up the Diamond Rally starting grid for 2015, and a beautiful sunny morning set the stage for what was to be another memorable event.
While hundreds of spectators oggled the multi-million dollar parade of hardware in the parking lot, a quick driver’s meeting revealed the day’s pack of participants was vastly more diverse than times before. An expected contingent of Vancouver’s automotive industry who’s-who only made up a relatively small segment of this year’s fleet. Premium brand dealers ranging from Aston Martin, to Rolls-Royce, to Ferrari and Lamborghini all brought out a nominal delegation of vehicles for the event. However, as the opening brief revealed, Vancouver has no shortage of supercar enthusiasts, both young and old.
Unlike the rest of Canada, where supercar ownership is primarily left to the old guard of the 30 to 50-somethings, successful entrepreneurs, nouveau-riche, and the country’s legacy families, Vancouver remains a stronghold of wealth for much of Asia. The most notable byproduct of this trend is the significant number of young drivers at the wheel of dozens of McLarens, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches lined up at this year’s Diamond Rally. While this particular segment may sometimes be resented by the jealous and less-fortunate auto enthusiasts, among their own, they are welcomed with open arms.
What that envious minority seldom seems to realize is the impact this young affluent group of enthusiasts has on Vancouver’s ever-growing automotive marketplace. There is a reason that brands like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and even Ferrari have massive, shiny new dealerships scattered throughout the city, and that you can’t spend an afternoon wandering around downtown Vancouver without hearing an exotic V10 or V12-powered monster roaring past you. The city is filled with residents with serious coin to burn, and an appreciation for luxury products of all varieties.
With the drivers’ briefing wrapped, it was time for one of the more entertaining components of the morning’s events: the departure, complete with its own police blockade. Navigating over 130 supercars onto the Sea-To-Sky highway through a series of traffic lights would have, without a doubt, been troublesome at best without the aid of the boys in blue. Thanks to their assistance, the entire grouping was privy to an uninterrupted stretch of open highway before any regular traffic had the ability to get in the way. With B.C’s strict speeding laws, which include the risk of impound at 30 km/h over the posted speed limit, many participants were weary of having a heavy foot, however it seems through the course of the events, no speeding tickets were awarded.
From Vancouver through to just north of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, overpasses and off-ramps were dotted with groups of car fans and random passersby that had clearly heard that the pack was en-route. Given how frequently these cars are seen on Vancouver’s city streets, it was a nice surprise to see how many people made time in their day to camp out and watch the multi-million dollar procession. As the group pressed northward, the crowds and the traffic began to thin out as suburbia gave way to rugged wilderness.
Within what seemed like mere instants, it was time for the event’s first pit-stop of the day. Chances Casino in Squamish provided its vast expanse of a parking lot for the fleet of cars to line up, grouped together by brand. At final count, Porsche took the title of largest representation, counting 25 cars including a handful of top-tier GT3 and Turbo versions. Next came Lamborghini with 21, and Ferrari with 18 cars on site for the event. There was little surprise to see these brands rounding out the top three, however many were shocked to see the massive turnout from Mclaren, who came in just shy at 17 cars, including not one but two of their $1.3 million P1 supercars. The brand has only been doing business in Vancouver for a little over a year - clearly, the city has been treating them well.
Another blast up a beautiful stretch of impeccable winding road and the group had arrived in Whistler Village for another display staging, this time in the Olympic Plaza. Parked two cars deep and encircling the entire area, the Diamond Rally took over the grounds with flair, catching many an unsuspecting tourist off guard with the grand display through the early afternoon. This time the cars lined up in no particular order, with drivers at the far end grinning with pride knowing that they arrived ahead of many of their counterparts. The joke was on them, as being first in also meant being last out. Thankfully regardless of time of departure, the day’s closing ceremonies at the Four Seasons Hotel in Whistler would carry on long after the entire crew had arrived.
Much as many participants were still riding the endorphin wave from the day’s drive, the mellow roll of lounge music and ample flow of libations quickly brought the entire courtyard to a zen-like state of satisfaction. Closing out the day, event organizer Craig Stowe honoured participants with awards for Best Liveries, and most importantly the winner of the most successful team charity campaign. Roughly a dozen charities received a healthy dose of donations this year, including Pancreatic Cancer Canada, The Special Olympics, and the Dr. Peters Foundation. This year’s winner was The Childrens’ Wish Foundation, specifically campaigning for a young boy named Joey, whose wish is to go to Italy with his family and tour the Ferrari plant in Maranello. The young boy is a huge Ferrari fan, and thanks to the help of a few rally participants, he rode shotgun on the drive up to Whistler in one of his favourite cars of all time. After a last-minute push for raffle tickets, the Childrens’ Wish Foundation netted just over $60,000 to put towards Joey’s trip.
As afternoon quickly spilled into evening, Diamond Rally participants were left to their own devices for the balance of the evening. Late-night cocktails pulled many of the group to Whistlers renowned Bearfoot Bistro, though some drivers had chosen to retire to avoid having a rough go of the next morning’s drive home. Grins abound, anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that this year’s event was a resounding success. Being bitten by the Lifestyle Rally bug, many left the weekend to return to their daily grind with only one thought in mind. Where’s the next rally, and how do they sign up.