By Hayden Seder


Now in its second year, the annual Sun Valley Tour de Force is a unique event where car aficionados old and new alike can get up close and personal with amazing cars, high-speed runs, and other fun activities over the course of three days. Over the weekend of July 25-27, attendees will enjoy a downtown car show, high-speed runs on Phantom Hill north of Ketchum, scenic mountain tours, hosted sponsor events and a new comedy show. The weekend is a fun showcase of rarely seen supercars and classic collectibles. Money from this year’s charity event will go to Idaho BaseCamp, a local nonprofit making a difference in the community through its Outdoor Adventure Programs for students.

The weekend starts with the Huckleberry Drive on July 25, Thursday morning, where a group of drivers will venture on a scenic drive over Galena Pass to Smiley Creek on Highway 75. This drive accommodates 75 cars and has sold out; the stunning views and pit-stop for a huckleberry milkshake and ice cream at Smiley Creek lodge along the way make it one of the most looked-forward-to events.

A new sponsor to this year’s event, Peterson BMW of Boise, will also be hosting free “ride and drives” on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A fleet of BMWs for event-goers to test-drive will be at the Catholic Church in Ketchum.

“We’re excited to have Peterson BMX up here this year,” said Whitney Slade, event director and co-founder along with Maya Blix.

“We’re thrilled to be involved with Sun Valley Tour de Force this year,” said Mike Weires, Peterson BMW general manager. “The event embodies the soul and heritage of the BMW brand while celebrating the beauty of Idaho which Peterson has been deeply rooted in since 1923. Many of our customers live in the Sun Valley area and we’re excited to connect with them as well.”

Another sponsor this year is Simmons Fine Jewelry who has once again partnered with TAG Heuer to create a limited edition TAG Heuer watch for the event. High-speed drivers have the option to engrave their top speed on the watch’s back and Simmons Fine Jewelry will have a mobile showroom at the car show Friday for people to go in and check out the watches.

Two events will take place on Friday: first, the High Speed Drivers Technical Inspection, hosted lunch and safety meeting at Sun Valley Auto Club. This mandatory event for all participant drivers has become a great social opportunity and word-of-mouth insider event and opportunity for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the event.

That evening is the Tour de Force Car show in downtown Ketchum’s Town Square. Roads around the square, including Sun Valley Road will be closed. This free event is a chance for locals and spectators to view roughly 200 cars with thousands of attendees. Visitors can enjoy vendors, sponsors, music, refreshments and commentary from Peter Bush, a veteran radio personality.

New to this year’s car show is a pinewood derby that Idaho BaseCamp is producing. People will buy a kit and decorate them and enter the pinewood derby to race at the car show. There will be prizes for derby winners including a passenger ride on Saturday. Also new this year will be a five-mile parade of the cars before the car show, starting at the YMCA, going over Saddle Road and through Elkhorn, then down Main Street to the Town Square.

On Saturday will be the main event, featuring the high-speeds runs on Highway 75 North at Phantom Hill. Owners of supercars, exotics and vintage automobiles will have the rare opportunity to drive their vehicles on a three-mile stretch of vacated highway with no speed limit. There are 72 runs total, broken into heats of 10-12 cars. The highway is closed for up to 20 minutes at a time with cars going one-by-one during their heat.

To really experience the high-speed runs, the Tour de Force is offering VIP passes this year for $200 which includes access to start line and drivers’ pit, automatic entry to win a passenger ride on July 27 (for guests over 14), Sun Valley Tour de Force hat and t-shirt, free parking at the Wood River YMCA, return transportation from YMCA and refreshments and lunch at the drivers’ pit.

“With the VIP pass, you’re up close and personal with all the cars and drivers,” Slade said.

Finishing up the weekend on Saturday night is a new event, Cars and Comedy. Comedians Dwight Slade and Kermet Apio will perform sets at the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum while guests enjoy Idaho-inspired cocktails and dinner. A live auction will also offer opportunities to support this year’s beneficiary, Idaho BaseCamp. Auction items include: an Indy 500 trip, a trip from BMW to Track Days in California, and a grownup sleep-away camp package at Idaho BaseCamp.

The funds from this year and last year go to nonprofit Idaho BaseCamp, specifically to Idaho BaseCamp’s Outdoor Adventure 5th-grade program. The funds go to allow public-school students to enjoy several nights of outdoor adventure education, free of charge, at the camp’s headquarters outside Mackay, Idaho.

“Last year we sent 52 public school students to the BaseCamp, all 5th graders from Bellevue Elementary and Mackay School,” Slade said. “They went on a two-night campout free of charge. We also learned that at our fundraiser dinner last year, a family ended up donating another $100,000 to the 5th grade program, so combined, we will send 500 students to the camp over the next several years.”

A new charity will be picked for next year, with the intent to support numerous organizations in the Valley. “We really want to produce a successful event that produces funds for really great nonprofits making a difference in the community,” Slade said.

For more information or to purchase the $200 VIP passes for the high-speed runs visit

Reposted from Idaho Press