Sun | Jan 17, 2021

Nigel Wilmot: Mastering every genre of motorsports

Published:Wednesday | January 2, 2019 | 12:00 AMKajamba Fitz-Henley
Nigel’s racing team. From left: Team crew chief Victor Brown, Leroy Spence (co-driver and racer), Nigel Wilmot, Devin Dunn (team mechanic), and Ewan Radlien (graphic artist and teammate.
Nigel Wilmot with his eight trophies won at Dover’s 2018 Heroes of Speed.

Automotives has featured circuit racers, mechanics enthusiasts, drag racers, and rally racers. However, rarely have we been able to feature one who falls squarely into all categories. Racer Nigel Wilmot participates in almost every genre of motorsports, splitting his time among drag racing, circuit racing, rally racing, off-road excursions, and rallycross.

Despite being a fencing contractor by trade, Wilmot finds the time to participate in multiple forms of motorsport, in addition to modifying 4x4-wheel vehicles. He works with mostly Jeep Wranglers, Suzuki Jimnys, and pickups like the Toyota Tacomas and Toyota Tundras. "I put on bigger tyres, raise the suspensions, and make the vehicles capable of going on dirt trails and any off-road trails, like up into the mountains, driving on trails that other cars can't manage." Additionally, the motorsport aficionado organises off-road excursions, such as his recently developed concept of Off-Roading on the Farm, held approximately every three months.

Wilmot handles such a full plate with nothing short of brilliance. "It's my hobby also. When everybody else finishes work and goes to have a drink or to party, I go to the garage. That is how I'm able to do both so efficiently. I pretty much live the motorsports life every day. You can find me at the garage every day, even on Sundays, going until very late hours. I'm just always working on cars and modifying them."


Developing a dedication to cars


"I pretty much developed the love for cars in my teenage years. After I got my first car, I started doing my own modifications," Wilmot shared with Automotives. As a quick learner and self-taught mechanic, he promptly branched off into dirt bikes then transitioned into jeeps and 4x4s. The primary goal of getting vehicles to "look cool and perform tasks regular 4x4s can't do" soon progressed into a desire to start racing.

"After making the vehicles look nice and cool, I figured I wanted them to go fast as well, so I started racing my off-road truck." The racer also began developing his brand - Wilmotorsports - associated with racing, off-roading events, and car modifications. "Over the past 10 years, it's now blossomed into basically a household name. You can't go on the road without seeing a little Suzuki Jimny or a jeep or a pickup truck with big, rough tyres looking high with a Wilmotorsports sticker on one of them." As a true household name, Nigel Wilmot and his team are present almost everywhere there is a trace of motorsports in Jamaica. "If you go to the drag strip, Wilmotorsports is there; if you go to Dover, Wilmotorsports is there; and if you go to the end-of-year rally, Wilmotorsports is there."


Off-roading vehicles and events


Wilmot described the officially organised excursions as a family affair. He and his business partner, Troy Bernard, host the event at a farm in St Elizabeth, where they make sure to include children by providing a bounce-about for them. There are refreshments on sale, bikes, trucks and cars doing different activities. "It's an event where even if you're not participating, you will still enjoy watching. We have pretty cool trucks attempting different obstacles, like climbing over logs or climbing over rocks and that kind of thing." Wilmot went on to clarify that only approximately 10 per cent of the events' attendees actually enter their vehicles into the challenges, while the rest stay to enjoy the other activities. "They just lyme, hang out, look at the vehicles, and watch the guys who will actually enter the courses. There's enough enjoyment and entertainment whether you're a spectator or a participant."

The next off-roading event, scheduled in Bull Bay for today, promises an even more enticing experience: "the 'jeep beach' concept is a new idea. It's practised in the United States, where you have hundreds of jeeps turn up, park along the beach, and display their modifications and products. I'm bringing something similar to Jamaica." Participants and attendees will be displaying products and modifications, lyming, grilling, and camping out. Wilmot shared his desire to expand this new concept throughout the year: "Wilmotorsports is always pretty much coming with something new. whether it's a new truck, a new vehicle, a new race car - we try to have something new and interesting on a regular basis so people are not tired of seeing the same old thing." He also shared plans to generally capitalise on the growing popularity of off-roading in the country. "We're now thinking of doing more off-road events because Jamaica is getting more into 4x4s and into off-roading, so we're trying to be innovative and introduce new concepts - just to make people continue to develop the interest in it."

Wilmot said that many Jamaicans have the tools to facilitate off-roading excursions but lack the knowledge needed to take advantage of them. "People generally have these vehicles and just drive them and carry stuff in them but don't know that they can drive them on to the beach. They can drive them up into the mountains just to enjoy nature, find waterfalls, find nice trails, and enjoy some really nice scenery in Jamaica." The hope is to spread the knowledge and passion for off-roading. "We're just trying to bring people to the realisation that there's so much that you can do with your everyday Suzuki Vitara or Prado or Toyota pickup."


Off-roading and More


Though the love for off-roading is evident, one should not forget that Nigel Wilmot is a man of many genres, his favourite among them being moto rally. "Moto rally is probably my favourite because that is a combination of different types of racing. We drive on the road, we get to a stage that is pretty much gravel or dirt, and we race on that, then the surface changes. Sometimes you're racing on grass or in marl and gravel, other times you're racing on tarmac. It's a two-day race which pretty much goes throughout the entire day. That is probably my favourite because it's a mixture of different terrain that you're racing on and it's an entire day of racing, as opposed to circuit racing or drag racing, where you might do a few races for the day, and that's it."

In addition to rally, Wilmot has been doing circuit racing on and off under team Racing Syndicate for approximately eight years. "I'm now pretty much fully committed to it. I haven't missed a race for the past two years, and I have a car designated for circuit racing." In 2018 alone, he ran four race meets, winning almost 30 trophies. "I race in all the classes. I race a Mazda RX7 in the Super Street class. I race in IP2; I race the (1990) Honda Civic in that. I also race in MP3, and I race in Thundersport 1. I'm the only person that literally runs every race and is in every class for the day."

Even with the success earned in each class, Wilmot is still seeking sponsor support to improve his vehicles and race in even bigger classes. "My sponsors are very important to me, so I make sure that they get a 101 per cent mileage. My cars are either wrapped, or I have my sponsors fully displayed on the cars. I make sure that every time there are cars on the track, my sponsors are seeing their product out there and I'm out there having fun." He listed some of his sponsors as Top 1 Oil, Maxxis Tyres, Chad Ad, GOODLIFE Spring Water, Quality Distributors Ltd, and Alex Imports Ltd, among many others.

"I am one of the most passionate and committed persons that you'll find in Jamaica when it comes to motorsports. When I build a car and I go to the track, I go to race and enjoy the day. It also is about building and promoting my brand, that's just it. I eat, sleep, breathe racing and cars, so I just put my heart into it, and I'm always doing it. That is why literally in every race, once the car is still in one piece, I'm out there racing."

One of the most recent events that Wilmot participated in was Heroes of Speed for Circuit Racing and Rally Jamaica on December 1 and 2. He won the Thundersport 1 Championship for the year and had wins in Super Street, MP3 and Thundersport 1. He took home eight trophies: (two third and a second in MP3. He placed first in Thundersport 1 and got two seconds; he also placed third in Super Street). Upcoming events will be Circuit Racing and Drag Racing in February. There are also plans to enter Rally Trinidad for 2019.