Sat | Feb 17, 2018

Home-built horsepower

Published:Sunday | April 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Contributed Part of the crowd at a Vernamfield, Clarendon, drag racing meet.
Contributed Xavier Murray flanked bypromotional supporters at the Vernamfield drag strip, Clarendon.
Contributed Drag racer Xavier Murray
Contributed Xavier Murray's Honda Civic, which posted record times at last month's drag race meet at Vernamfield, Clarendon.

After his record breaking performance at last month's drag race meet held at Vernamfield, Clarendon, Xavier Murray seems to be on his way to greater success/

Seen as one of the country's rising stars on the drag racing circuit, Murray said "my aim is to demonstrate to the motor sport fraternity that you don't have to be equipped with an overseas built race car to achieve greatness. You can use a locally built engine to do the same."

Murray, built his first engine 26 years as a 13 year-old schoolboy, Xavier's father gave him an engine that was pulled from a crashed 1979 Toyota Corolla to fix as a project. Just into his teens, Xavier stunned everybody when he effected the repairs and put the engine together. It was eventually installed in his mother's 1984 Toyota Starlet, which she later used to do her daily rounds.

Murray is from a family whose members are highly skilled in preparing cars for various purposes. His father currently operates an auto/body repair shop, he has a cousin in Canada who is a mechanic and an uncle is a retired mechanic.

Just as how he surprised his family 26 years with the rebuilding of that engine, Murray left scores of committed motor sport fans dumbstruck when he used his Honda Civic to produce a 9.928 second run at Vernamfield on Sunday, March 20. However, it was a feat that Murray almost missed out on. During the first two rounds the car developed mechanical problems and was on the brink of being withdrawn from the event.

"After the first two rounds we discovered that it was wasting fuel. It had an alternator problem. With time against us we had to rush and put it on wrecker, head back to our workshop in Mandeville and sort it. When the starter was ready again for us in the next round we had to call and let them that we would be there in a few minutes. We finally made it and this was the reward," said Murray, who has been a mechanic for most of his life.

"With so much problems with the car that day, I didn't know we could have done so well," the Mandeville based businessman added.

These days the Manchester High past student spends most of his time preparing Akeel Shorter's race car for action at the Dover Raceway, St Ann. When he is not in Jamaica, Murray is in Trinidad preparing Mark Williams' car for the Trinidad circuit. In the past he was the mechanic charged with the responsibility of getting the cars of Teddy Burton, Kyle Gregg, Vivian Mitchell and Natasha Chang ready for circuit racing.