JF Launier’s Rivision, the 1964 Buick Riviera worth $1 million, was the centre of attention at the Wine Country Racing Association’s fifth annual Rumble in the Valley.
A large crowd was on hand Sunday in Osoyoos to see what Rivision could do on the drag strip.
“Absolutely phenomenal,” said Penticton’s Mark Burleigh, who made his first trip to the Richter Pass Motorplex with his son Jacob. “It’s an absolute piece of art but it’s a race car as well. It’s amazing to see it especially because it’s locally built. It’s just amazing. It’s super fast.”
Jacob said Rivision is “really cool” and found the 850-horsepower V8 engine makes it go fast. Jacob also liked its shiny wheels.
Matt Waterman made the trip from Penticton with his wife Jennifer and son Seth and they were very pleased with the show. Waterman said he thought Launier did well.
“You don’t get full traction out here,” said Waterman, who knows Launier. “He raced really well. The first time he got a little squirly halfway down the track.
“It’s good to see a show car that actually drives,” added Waterman.
“I really liked it because all the cars go really fast,” said Seth, who liked the speed of the Rivision and its rims.
Mark Bearman, a friend of Launier’s, said it was neat to watch the Rivision.
“It ran great,” said Bearman. “It was good to see.”
Launier experienced scary moments as he raced his car while trying to keep it straight. After a couple of runs, Launier made adjustments, plus the temperatures improved so his tires worked better and he kept his car straight.
“The first couple passes the car would still be sliding at 90 miles an hour,” he said, “spinning the tires so it was hard on it.
“The car is good, it’s more my nerves,” continued Launier. “I come out of the car shaking every time. I will never do that again.”
Launier raced Rivision to promote the hobby and sport to kids and show support to the Coachmasters Club of the South Okanagan that helped him build the 2014 Ridler Award-winner.
During the lunch break, spectators got to see the car up close, take photos and get autographs. Launier also gave Hot Wheels toy cars to kids.
Launier believes the event attracted its largest turnout. After the lunch break, he took the car out for a few more times.
“I think a lot of people could appreciate the fact how precious this moment is because it’s never going to happen again,” said Launier, who won the award at the 2014 Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama. “It’s never happened before.”
Launier’s car is highly modified with inspiration taken from the boat tail rear glass used on the 1971 Buick Riviera models and design cues from the 1963-1967 Corvette Stingray. Launier then combined these different elements, which included a low-slung profile and stance, front fender vents and tight proportions, and created a rolling masterpiece that is aggressive yet, beautiful with exquisite attention to detail and functionality.
Launier is the first Canadian to win the Ridler Award in 35 years and its the first time an owner/builder has won in nearly 40 years he said.