Speed bugs swarm to the loop

Formula One fans in the Cayman
Islands don’t get much chance to indulge their passion apart from watching
races on TV and following the sport on the net. But there is at least a place
they can try to emulate Button, Hamilton and Schumacher. At the Progressive
Loop off North Sound Road in George Town a little piece of Brands Hatch or Nuremberg
has been created, complete with track, barriers, chicanes, pit stop, lights and
chequered flag.

Creator Alasdair Foster has been
overwhelmed with the initial success. “It’s been very popular, which is great
news, particularly the last month when people were coming back from holidays,”
he says. “We’ve been to full capacity the last week or so. The good thing is,
everyone who comes back really enjoys it. People get faster and faster. The
first time they are a bit tentative but they like to go for their fastest lap
times. We put the fastest times on the board which makes it a constant
challenge.”

The course has been open since
March. Foster, a former banker and lawyer always enjoyed karting as a
recreation and thought this would be a fun alternative for many. His
turbo-charged mind saw an opportunity, so he did a career U-turn, shifted gears
and sped into planning his next manoeuvre. It has definitely worked. He had to
jump through many hoops to overcome the red tape and spent tens of thousands in
importing everything and setting it all up. Happily, for Foster, it’s working
out so far and he hopes to break even within the first two years. After that he
should be able to go, eh, into overdrive. Locals love it and he’s now trying to
attract cruise ship passengers. It’s open every day in the summer from 5-9pm.

All the karts are for adults, ages
14 and over. Foster is planning to get karts for kids ages seven to 13 soon.
Finding liability insurance is the problem but where there’s a will, there’s a
way.

The facilities are basic with
portaloos and bleachers. Foster eventually wants to set up a dedicated building
with a snack bar and restrooms.

The second AI Group Corporate
League season is under way on Monday and Tuesday nights. Twenty teams do 50 lap
races with four people in each race. A more serious league for racers is
planned, plus children’s leagues, service industry leagues and so on.

Safety is, of course, the most
important factor. “I’m a former lawyer so I know all the potential dangers. We
have top of the range karts, costing US$7,000 each, not including import duty.
They have shock absorbers around the side, engines are covered and we have
water filled barriers, marshals monitoring all the racers and we have a remote
controller where we can shut cars down if there is an accident, so it’s all
designed with safety in mind.

Foster, 34, a Scotsman from Dundee,
has a canny feel for the market. So far he has no regrets. “It was a bit of a
gamble because I just drew a track on a piece of paper and sourced the best
karts I could find and happily it’s all worked out. It is so rewarding to see
people having a good time and getting out saying how much they’ve had a good
time and they’re going to come straight back.” This man certainly has the drive
to succeed. 

For more information

 email [email protected] or ring 526-5278.

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