Crystal Schick/Yukon News An autocross driver gives the thumbs up at the start line during Klondike Cruisers’s monthly racing event in Whitehorse on July 7, 2019.

Revelling in the revving of engines: Klondike Cruisers host autocross event

July 7 at the Takhini arena, automobile enthusiasts from around the Yukon came to test out their driving skills at the Klondike Cruisers’ monthly autocross and 100 foot shootout event.

In the autocross, participants drove through a course made out of cones to see who could get the fastest time. Likewise, the 100 foot shootout tested participants to see how fast they could drive 100 feet. In each event, only one vehicle would go at a time.

Mike Hayden is a director of Klondike Cruisers, and he won both events in his Ford Focus. After some setbacks in previous races, he’s proud to see his driving skills intact.

“I just got this car this year, and the previous month I didn’t do very good in it because it was still very new to me.” he said. “I used to have a (Mazda) Miata before, which is, like, the cross car. So it was pretty good to know that okay, I’m actually an okay driver. It wasn’t just the car.”

A helper waves a flag indicating the start of an autocross race at Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on July 7, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

However, winning isn’t everything for Hayden. As a member of Klondike Cruisers — a club for automobile enthusiasts to meet one another and organize driving-related events together — much of his joy comes not only from driving vehicles but also bringing fellow drivers together for events like these.

“One of my favourite cars we had yesterday was a bone stock Volkswagen Jetta diesel. The guy had never done an event like that before… it was a brand new thing to him. We got to show him what it was and he was having a blast. So I really like spreading the camaraderie to people who might not have otherwise even thought about it.”

Monthly autocrosses and shootouts aren’t the only events Klondike Cruisers hold. Last Father’s Day, the group held a car show outside the Yukon Transportation Museum,where attendees got to see an assortment of sports cars and vintage vehicles — the sorts of cars you’d seldom see on the road but would always catch your eye whenever they appeared.

Additionally, it also hosts “cars and coffee” meetings on Saturday mornings as well as regular “cruises” to places like Atlin and Carcross.

For Hayden, an appealing aspect of events like autocrosses and shootouts is how they let you test out your car’s capabilities in ways that would be difficult to do on a regular road. For instance, one driver with a new Mustang was able to test out his car’s “line lock” feature, which holds the car’s front tires while the back tires spin — a practice also known as a “burnout.” This heats up the tires to improve their traction once a race begins.

Likewise, Hayden was able to try out his Ford Focus’ drift mode, which makes it easier to move the car when it drifts around a corner.

A driver maneuvers his vehicle around cones during the Klondike Cruisers autocross event in Whitehorse on July 7, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

“You’d never have a chance to do these features of your car on the road, and you’ve got a safe, legal place to do some pretty cool stuff,” he said. “We’ve had some people do some pretty massive burnouts and big smoky drifts, and they come back and they got a smile on their face from ear to ear.”

Last Sunday’s event had a smaller than usual attendance. Only seven drivers participated, whereas Hayden claims they usually get around 15 to come out. The club hopes to expand in the future — eventually, they want to take their autocross and shootout events onto different terrains such as gravel and even ice.

You also don’t need to own a Mustang or Ford Focus to be a part of Klondike Cruisers. According to Hayden, all sorts of cars can be found in the club.

“We’re an ‘all cars welcome’ car club.”

Contact Joshua Azizi at joshua.azizi@yukon-news.com

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