Sportsmanship often takes a lot of practice to perfect.
Competition brings out the best and worst in people so emotions are explosive. Some of the best competitors in the sports world are able to play hard while respecting their opponents.
This reporter witnessed some fine sportsmanship first-hand at the opening round of the 2009 Caribbean Circuit Championship in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica.
Dover Raceway was host to much automotive excitement May 23-25. Caught up in the action were three countries in Barbados, Cayman and Jamaica.
The Cayman race team consisted of Gary ‘Rambo’ Barrett in a black Honda Civic hatchback, Andy Bodden in the Tony’s Toys Honda Civic Type-R, Junior Hydes in a grey Mitsubishi Evolution III and Kevin Johnson in a white Mitsubishi Evolution III.
A number of Caymanians made the trip to watch the action and lend support. Among them were Minroy Hydes, Gary Huggins and Richard Machado.
The trip was made possible by Tony Williams of Tony’s Toys and Ray Hydes of Hydes and Sons.
It would be easy for the Jamaican drivers to focus on the race and brush off the presence of the Cayman team. However that was not the case as most were welcoming.
Among them were Gary Gregg and Natasha Chang. Gregg, known for his rally racing exploits in a Ford Focus, had his race bay stationed next to the Cayman crew.
He drove a blue Honda Civic during the competition while his son Kevin drove a black Civic.
Chang meanwhile stopped by the Cayman race bay in her yellow Mitsubishi Evolution V.
Both expressed knowing some of the Cayman racers and having a Cayman connection of sorts. Gregg had been to Cayman in years past to compete in Cayman autocross events at Lakeview Raceway (where Jay Bodden’s marl pit now sits).
Chang meanwhile says she has many good friends who stay in Cayman.
The pair also had nothing but positive comments for Cayman. Gregg hoped Cayman did as well if not better in the next round of the competition while Chang stated Cayman was a great nation with the right attitude to racing.
Another duo who wished Cayman well was couple Anna-Kay ‘Smiling Kay’ Dunkley and Dion ‘Babybomb’ Gardener.
The pair raced at Dover in two PETCOM-sponsored Mitsubishi Mirages. Both drivers are renown in Jamaican race circles for their prowess in dexterity and sprint races (nabbing a top three finish in three of the last five events this year).
Admittedly both were not familiar with racing in Cayman. They were surprised with how many racers came from Cayman and how well they did.
On the other hand the pair did know a few people from Cayman and felt Caymanians never were too tired to flash a smile.
A few Jamaican drivers were not only knowledgeable about Cayman’s racers but in tune with the happenings in Cayman.
The biggest example of that fact was David Summerbell Jr. Summerbell, arguably Jamaica’s best driver, dominated the competition throughout with his AMS Mitsubishi Evolution VIII.
Much of his competition saw the Evo’s bumper two car lengths ahead as Summerbell’s knowledge of the track and control of the car shined through.
Yet Summerbell was quite aware of Cayman’s presence on and off the track as he commented on the guys there at Dover.
‘I know all the guys, especially Tony, Rambo and Andy,’ Summerbell said. ‘In fact Rambo has been coming to Dover for many years. He has proven he is a good driver.’
Summerbell is no stranger to Cayman either ashe came years ago to race.
‘I’ve been to Cayman in the past to race at the old Lakeview Raceway. Cayman was a great place to me and the racers were good to me.
‘I really liked racing there and the people were very friendly and welcoming to me. The Jamaican people have to be the same way to the Cayman guys.’
The Jamaican race legend, whose father was also a notable figure on the motorsports scene, is well-aware of the current state of Cayman motorsports.
He expressed his feelings on the closing of Cayman’s lone race track, Breakers Speedway, by owner Robert Campbell.
‘I was saddened to hear Campbell closed the track. The guys did well here in Jamaica and it would be good if they could race there again.
‘I would love to see the new Cayman government and members of the private sector come together to help re-open the track. Caymanians are great people and great racers and they deserve it.’