Saturday, May 17, and Sunday May 18, were the most exciting weekend for me in a long while. The great thing about it is that this weekend coming will also be a revved up one.
The Top Gear Festival was extremely exciting for me and thousands more. Motor enthusiasts got the thrill of their lives seeing Lewis Hamilton, Ken Block, Tanner Foust and the Top Gear host team of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. They are just a few of who made this weekend an epic and historic occasion.
I cannot say thank you enough to Mark Maloney, Mark Hamilton, Bizzy Williams, Andrew Mallalieu and all others involved in bringing the event to life. I know many girlfriends and wives were made secondary for seven hours out of the day either Saturday or Sunday, and if you were like me it was for both days. But I took my significant other along for one day.
As I write this column I am still on a high from the smell of high octane fuel, burning rubber doughnuts, and the motor-gasmic sound of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 Mercedes.
Funny what that sound does to you after travelling through the ear drum. I saw people with goose pimples, and others almost reproducing a Lamaze class. I am trying not to be too loud as I write this but the truth is the Top Gear Festival was gosh darn brilliant!
Barbados has once again been placed on the world stage. The massive efforts in staging this event have allowed the rest of the motoring world to see the wonderful facility we now boast, and also see how supportive we as a people are of the sport. Say what you like, if we are to drag ourselves out of this financial hole we are in, we will need to have attractive things planned and executed alike the Top Gear Festival that will attract the sporting tourists and locals.
Many who had little interest in the event benefited in some way or the other. I heard a few saying that they were not into motorsport, but I know they were still selling drinks and food at Bushy Park. Such is life.
Having Global RallyCross here makes me want to act like a nine-year-old child getting a battery-operated life-size car. That racing is beyond explanation, and I will not hurt myself trying to find words to describe it.
The following that it has is bound to attract visitors to our shores, and I hope the BTA is already meeting with Mark Maloney and his team to see how this can be incorporated in their promotion of Barbados. Sea, sand, sunshine, rum and coconut water may be had in every Caribbean territory, but none can boast of having super drivers like Ken Block and Tanner Foust going around our world-class track with 600BHP engines.
Both regional and international travellers will be flocking here. The next thing I hope to see is some light towers so we can have late-night racing. Cooler for those who hide from the sun and great for turbo-charged engines.
So much mileage will be had from the past weekend, and with the great minds involved in the newly renovated circuit, I am sure many more things will happen.
Four years ago, I attempted to host what I thought would be a wonderful event titled The Drifting Soca Rally, but Mother Nature, limited funds and a few dangerous minds contributed to its not being a financial success. Despite it all, I had great support from the guys at Bushy Park, including Mark Maloney, who saw it as a wonderful event to host.
I still have aspirations of seeing such come to light again with the fusion of two of the most definitely attractive moneymakers for this island; motorsport and music. With the support of the local music fans and motoring lover, big things will happen.
Barbados is always given the title of Paradise Isle, and indeed it is. If we would take a few moments to take in our surroundings and see how beautiful they really are and get to understand why the visitors who come here keep coming back, we would respect it a whole lot more.
Sugar cane is no longer king, and food production is in no way near what we would like it to be. We need to continually find a way to generate foreign capital. And, thanks again to Bushy Park, we have made a possible start. I believe in thinking big, because if you do fall short you can still be impactful. No small-minded efforts will be of any use to us, no matter how you look at it.
Those who say “no” and “it will never work” are just keeping back the train to a better tomorrow. When we are returned to the earth, Barbados will still exist with our offspring. So what we do today will be well worth it on the morrow. It will not all happen overnight, but it will happen.
Today we might be an F3 facility, but in another 20 years we may boast of having the first F1 this side of the world – which will have many more thousands coming to see multimillion-dollar cars race in a safe and secure environment.
In the words of Jeremy Clarkson, “more power” to Bushy Park, and all involved!
Thanks for making me feel like a little boy again for two straight days; and I look forward to the coming events. For now, it is onto Sol Rally Barbados and the roar of local and other international engines.
Those of you who don’t get it, or don’t want to be part of it, I am sure you will in time. It is more than just watching cars at high speeds, for there is also the social aspect, which we all love.
Here’s to the motor-gasms that will be had, and the lovely memories of Top Gear Festival Barbados.