This month’s invitational meet at Breakers saw many local racers take over the spotlight.
With highly tuned rides that shook records and rocked the crowd local drivers were the centres of attention. However all paled in comparison to the show-stopping performance done by Armando Ebanks.
The Breakers resident elevated his 1000hp Ford Mustang twice during his epic showdown with Billy Ebanks and his green Dodge Duster.
The amount of power under the hood was almost too much for Armando. His strawberry-coloured Mustang would soon swerve in and out of its lane before spinning out near to the track tower.
Armando would later say the reason for the spin out was due to problems with his nitrous controller.
‘We disconnected the controller and hooked the nitrous up to go straight to the engine on that run.’
Without the controller in place a large amount of nitrous went to the engine at once resulting in the chassis and tires having to handle an excessive amount of power.
Nevertheless the veteran drag racer was not flustered by the mishap.
‘My experience has shown me that there is no time to be scared,’ Ebanks said. ‘You learn to make your experience take over. Although when reality sets in you wonder ‘wow I just did that?”
The crowd didn’t seem to mind the miscue either. In fact they gave Armando a hero’s welcome back at the starting line.
His ability to orchestrate a spectacular save, that spared the car damage from hitting the other racer or the nearby wall, was lauded more than winning driver Billy Ebanks.
Armando was in awe of the crowd’s response and very appreciative of his good fortune.
‘I have plenty of experience drag-racing and dealing with mishaps. I must say though it was a good feeling being in the air. It gave me a good rush.
‘I really enjoyed myself and it was great to know the crowd came out and saw a good race. [The reaction of the crowd] is one of the reasons why I hold racing so dear to my heart.’
Armando’s racing roots stretch back a decade when he first got his Mustang. A little before that, he had established himself as one of the regulars at the old High Rock facility in East End.
Armando has always been a firm believer in American muscle, especially Ford’s classic pony car. The first car he ever owned was a Mustang and he’s gone through a couple over his racing days, all Mustangs.
One of the first races he had with his strawberry-Mustang was in 1999. Similar to this month’s event, the car was all over the road then and Armando says he struggled to keep it under control.
Over time though he would grow to seek more power and push his driving skills to the limit.
To date the car has had extensive modifications. The current engine is a 347 stroker motor on a 302 block built by Redline Motors in the US. It is also built to accommodate nitrous and the system Armando has in place is a wet, direct port set-up that can add anywhere from 150 to 600hp.
Once one considers the work done to create a lighter front-end and a racing transmission it comes as no surprise that the West Bay native has invested over US$20,000 into the car and it can comfortably make 1000hp.
When he’s not on the track Armando serves as president of the Cayman Hot Rod Association and is also on the Cayman Islands Agricultural Board.
In fact Armando is quick to say he has other passions aside from racing.
‘I’m a cattle farmer and I love raising cattle. Aside from drag racing I go fishing and spend a lot of time with my wife Kendra and kids Justyn, Jordan and Jayah.’
To maintain his expensive hobby and make ends meet Armando spends his days as the Business Sales Service Manager for Cable and Wireless.
Armando is a long-time employee of the company, having been with them some 21 years. He got his start as a trainee technician fresh out of school.
Surprisingly, Armando’s involvement with racing is not only condoned by the company but supported.
‘I opted to put Cable and Wireless stickers on my car as they have been supportive of me and motor sports on the whole,’ Ebanks said.
‘Even though I would like them to play a bigger and more active role I wanted to represent them and give them exposure.’
It’s pertinent to note that the role of the company in Armando’s track work is not quite the one of a sponsor.
Armando states that ‘apart from the stickers there has been no provision of funds or parts towards racing.’
On the other hand Armando is quick to point out that though he wishes that situation was different he is grateful to have their backing.
Ultimately Armando says he thought the event at Breakers went well and that he intends to keep soaring to new heights in his ‘Stang.
‘It was a good race day and a properly organized event. Mind you things could have been better but I’m not complaining!
‘As long as there is a race track in Cayman then I’ll be there.’