Rambo shoots through JA

This month is a busy one for Cayman motorsports.

Between dexterity racing, drag meets and a bike show there has been plenty to see and admire.

rambo shoots

Gary Rambo Barrett and Lydia have been to Dover many times. Photo: Matthew Yates

Lost in all of that has been the second round of the Caribbean circuit championship at Dover Raceway in Jamaica.

The second stage of the competition went off the weekend of August 1. It was uniquely called the ‘Independence Blast Off’ race meet.

Earlier this year a group of Cayman-based racers made the short trip over to that race track to compete.

The racers, who were sponsored by Tony Williams of Tony’s Toys and Ray Hydes of Hydes and Sons, were Andy Bodden, Kevin Johnson and Junior Hydes. Gary ‘Rambo’ Barrett was also at Dover representing Cayman.

Bodden raced a Honda Civic Type-R, Johnson had the Airsupply Mitsubishi Evolution III and Hydes had the Hydes and Sons Evolution III.

Though the majority of those guys did not go to Jamaica this time, one racer made the trek to represent Cayman and defend his title from last year.

Barrett (who goes by the name Rambo due to his aggressive racing style) was giving Jamaican drivers fits with his black 1991 Honda Civic hatchback.

That same car propelled Rambo to have the best performance of the Cayman group. He finished no lower than fourth in the four races he competed in. He came in first twice and had a second place finish.

The car is no regular Civic. The lowered all-motor machine boasts a Honda Integra Type-R B18C engine. The engine bay sees an air filter and related piping. Power goes to the wheel in the form of a five-speed gearbox.

All of those engine parts come together to generate, according to Rambo, some 196 brake horsepower.

In addition the car is outfitted with a number of suspension parts including race rotors, race compound brake pads and steel braided brake lines.

From what this reporter say first-hand the car ran consistently well and hit its apexes with power and precision. Only a few times between races did the car undergo engine work.

Interestingly Rambo feels one of the most important parts of his car is his DOT street-legal tires.

‘Tires are a key at Dover. Even though my tires came with two lines in it they did well. Dover is a challenging track though once you get used to it you’re ok.

‘About the only improvements I would make to the car would be to shed some more weight.’

Based on his track record Rambo does not need to make many changes.

A long-time visitor at Dover from his days growing up in Jamaica, Rambo says he first took center stage six years ago.

‘The first time I raced at Dover was back in 2002 in the black Civic. That was at the Heroes of Speed event in October when the Jamaican Race Drivers Club had invited the Cayman Motorsports Association. I was part of a team of four racers that went.

‘Before that I had been going to Dover for donkey years. I loved to catch races, especially at Easter time with my family.

‘After that I ran again in 2005, losing an engine in practice at the Heroes of Speed event.’

The middle-aged racer had his best year in 2008. He won the overall points championship ahead of names like Jamaican race legends David Summerbell and Peter Rae. In addition he won his class ahead of the likes of Peter Jaggon in the orange and green Jaggon Gases Honda CRX.

Surprisingly Rambo did it in a different car. He used the Car City Honda Civic, which had starred in years past during the days of Cayman Autocross in the hands of Sacha Tibbetts. Rambo bought that car last year and still maintains it for racing purposes.

Then again having such unique cars at his disposal makes sense for a man who is unlike many Cayman racers.

Most days Rambo can be found at his own automotive business, Auto Body Works and Paint, in the heart of George Town.

When he’s not busy helping people get the most out of their cars he can be found in West Bay with his wife Lydia and four kids.

His wife has more than a passing interest in motorsports as she has been to Dover on occasion to support Rambo in the pit area.

Ultimately Rambo is a no-frills racer who prefers to keep things simple off the track as well as on it.

‘Driving on the track is safer than driving on the road for me. Racing is also relaxing to me.

‘My motto is whatever you’re feeling the guy behind you is feeling as well. You have to pick your battles and know who you are racing against. My feeling is I don’t drive to win but rather for the fun of it.’