One of the great attributes of sports in general is it is family-oriented.
Entire families go out to watch, fathers and sons compete and everyone in the family can generally get into what’s going on.
Motorsports is no different as families who compete in and tune race cars are a dime a dozen.
A couple of weeks ago this reporter witnessed that fact first-hand in Jamaica. The opening round of the 2009 Caribbean Circuit Championships took place May 23-25 at Dover Raceway in St. Ann’s Bay.
In yesterday’s newspaper, race day and the action on the track was highlighted in great detail. The following are some of the notable trends seen on May 25 and the wrap-up to a 14 hour day at the track:
When the smoke cleared, three men stood on top of the rest in Jamaican racers Neil ‘Hollywood’ Gore, Alan Chen and David Summerbell.
Gore would win his class in impressive fashion. His blue and yellow Mo Bay Racing Mitsubishi Evolution X hit apexes consistently and had more than enough power for the straights.
Gore fought off plenty of tough competition including Cayman’s own Andy Bodden in the Tony’s Toys Honda Civic Type-R.
Bodden was impressive in large part due to his ability to finish in the top 10 in spite of starting at the back of roughly 30 racers.
Chen showed old could beat new any day as his black 1980s Toyota Levin screamed through the corners and shot down the straights with heavy boost.
However Chen did not win easily. He faced tough competition all day from Gary ‘Rambo’ Barrett of Cayman. Barrett’s black Honda Civic hatchback was locked on to Chen’s bumper, especially through the corners.
Summerbell meanwhile was his usual precise and powerful self as the AMS Evolution VIII ran flawlessly. Though Bajan Stuart Maloney gave Summerbell competition in the Automotive Art Evolution VI, Summerbell was not fazed and won easily.
It seems Summerbell cemented his glory just in time. Just as the last race of the day finished up at 5:30pm, the heavens opened up and let out a long and heavy downpour.
Race teams had mixed reactions to the rain. Some, like the Cayman crew, took the time to relax and talk about the day that was. Others hurriedly packed up and cleared out of their race bays, hoping to beat the massive crowd of spectators to the exits.
Either way there would be plenty for persons to take with them on the respective journeys home.
For one thing there was the large presence of female racers. Many Jamaican women broke the stereotype of fast cars and high speeds being a manly thing such as Natasha Chang and Anna-Kay Dunkley.
To our credit, the Cayman race scene is trying slowly and surely to get women into the sport. That fact is seen chiefly by the running of a women’s division at the monthly Cayman Motorsports Association Time Attack dexterity races. Jamaica, however, is the blueprint Cayman can follow in that area.
In addition there was a large amount of racing families at the event. There was the Rae family in Peter Rae (in the Raetech Mazda RX-7) and nephew Sebastien Rae (in the Ankara Auto Mitsubishi Mirage) and the Gregg family in father Gary (in a blue Honda Civic hatchback) and son Kevin (in a black Honda Civic hatchback). Both families had an expressed link to Cayman.
Peter Rae raced in Cayman back in the days of autocross at Lakeview raceway, where Jay Bodden’s marl pit now sits. Meanwhile his brother and Sebastien’s father worked in Cayman at one point.
Rally star Gary Gregg also came to Cayman for autocross and left a big impression on many with his rally driving antics. Kevin expressed an interest to visit some day.
The interest and passion of the fans was also a remarkable sight. In spite of it being a national holiday and there being other things to do, fans packed the track. They were everywhere, including up on a hill adjacent to the track, trying to catch the glimpse of the action and buzzing over the cars they saw.
On the track one of the notable aspects was the presence of an Evolution X as the pace car. The pristine, red sports sedan was an interesting choice considering there were other cars that could have been chosen and Mitsubishi Evolutions are a favourite track weapon of many both in Jamaica and Cayman.
In fact the weekend’s action showed Cayman has an indelible link to Jamaican motorsports.
In addition to its four-man race team (Barrett, Bodden, Junior Hydes in a grey Evolution III and Kevin Johnson in a white Evolution III), Cayman got additional exposure through Jamaican racers like Tedroy ‘Teddy’ Burton.
Burton raced a red turbocharged Honda Civic sponsored by Murray’s Automotive Development (MAD) in Mandeville and Uncle Clem’s Meats – owned by Clement Edwers – in Cayman. MAD is slated to help tune the Tony’s Toys Civic for the next round of the competition and Burton is a hero of sorts in St. Elizabeth for his ability run with and beat bigger, seemingly more powerful cars like Mitsubishi Evolutions and Subaru Imprezas.
When the rain subsided at 6:30pm the Cayman crew went into motion packing up. There would be much to do before calling it a day. Part of clearing out the race bay called for the moving of the cars.
The Cayman cars came to Jamaica via a cargo container. Though the cars are staying in Jamaica to prepare for the next race in August, the vehicles would have to put back in to be taken away.
That would prove to be easier said than done. It took five guys to push the cars, one by one, into the container and a Hammer-lift truck to lift the container and carry it away.
Eventually the crew would leave Dover and arrive back to the villas at around 9:30pm. Everyone was tired and beat.
Sleep would be critical as the guys faced a 3am start Tuesday morning to get to Kingston in time for the 8am flight.