Speedy shifts into higher gear

In the world of Cayman motorsports
one of the top drivers on the scene is Keith ‘Speedy’ Tibbetts III. A noted
competitor in all forms of racing, he has earned plenty of props over the
years.

Arguably his best event is
autocross or dexterity racing. Behind the wheel of his blue 2008
Valvoline-sponsored Subaru Impreza Sti, Tibbetts has starred in the Cayman
Motorsports Association Time Attack series. He was the unofficial 2008 champion
and the official Four-Wheel Drive class winner and overall points champion in
2009.

Yet this weekend at the monthly
Time Attack event, Tibbetts considers himself handicapped.

“Earlier this year I had engine
problems with the Sti,” Tibbetts said. “The car was out for the last race and
will be out for this race. I will have to come from behind to win this time.
It’s unlikely I’ll win but I’ll do what I can.”

The source of his scepticism is his
car as he attacks the field in his white Ace Paint-sponsored Impreza. The
Impreza will be one of around a dozen cars at the Progressive Loop on Saturday
28 August. Cone-dodging action takes place from 7pm.

The assistant general manager of
Associated Industries Limited states the vehicle has a number of limitations
that can hamper his driving.

“The tires are holding the car
back. I sponsor and support Michael Weatherford and he has street tires on the
car for use in the street class. However I will be using the car in the
unlimited division and they aren’t up to spec. Handling could use improvement
on a whole. The power is more than adequate. I think power doesn’t win these
kind of races, handling does. I got a couple of things coming in this week and
we’ll see if I can get them on to the car before the weekend.”

Interestingly the unlimited
division is normally for cars that have 100 tread-wear tires, either Toyo RA1
or Toyo R888. Those tires are much stickier than street tires which means the
Ace Paint car is at a disadvantage.

Tibbetts, 32, might be helped by a
new course layout (which changes for every event). Last month’s layout emphasised
handling as there were a number a tight corners and only a handful of straight-a-
ways. Nevertheless he did quite well for himself, placing third in the
unlimited class and fourth in the battle run for the same class. Weatherford
meanwhile claimed the top spot in the Street All Wheel Drive category with a
time of 66.561s.

With a number of high finishes so
far this year, the 2009 Al and Jay Bodden memorial race winner feels pleased
with his current performance.

“I’m just doing well, I can’t
complain,” Tibbetts said. “I took first in the first two events no problem. In
the third event I won my class and came second in the battle run. In my fourth
event I did OK.”

Another area for concern could be
the level of competition. In Tibbetts’ division he faces motorsports
association president Bobby Hulse in his Toyota Altezza and established racer
Gary Huggins in his 1984 KIMMAR Toyota Starlet. From there Andy Bodden is a
formidable opponent (whether he races a Mitsubishi Evolution III, the
Automotive Art Mitsubishi Mirage or his 600hp Shelby Mustang) as well as Ian
Tibbetts in his Chevy Corvette.

Ultimately the born-and-bred
Caymanian states his biggest threat is the upcoming crop of racers.

“Marcus Huggins stepped up and beat
Bobby (Hulse) last race so I’m very impressed with him. It’s very unfortunate
though that he’s going to school this week in Canada (he’s going to a technical
school for mechanics). As a result he won’t compete in this race or for the
rest of the season.

“Ajoni (Ambersley) in the Two-Wheel
Drive class and Michael (Weatherford) are also good drivers. In the near future
they’ll be unlimited competition. In about a year I feel they will step up to
guys like Bobby (Hulse), Gary (Huggins) and I. I can’t forget Wayne
(Kirkconnell), who has been out for a bit due to having a child. Hopefully
he’ll be back in September in a Nissan 350Z and at the same time I hope to have
my Sti ready as well.”

SPORTSValvolinecarSTORY

Tibbetts will not be driving the Valvoline Impreza for awhile.
Photo: Matthew Yates
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