Fri | Jul 3, 2020

Matthew Lee: a young highlight of Jamaican circuit racing

Published:Friday | December 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMKajamba Fitz-Henley
Matthew Lee winning the third IP2 race at the Independence of Speed event in August 2018.
From left: Tavar Mighty, Matthew Lee, Jayden Mighty (cousin) and Nadine Smith, celebrate trackside.
Matthew Lee posing with other members of the CDCR crew. From left (standing): Mohandas Doig, Michael Smith, Paul Lee, Tavar Mighty, Matthew Lee, Lisa Bowman-Lee, Nadine Smith, Daisy Bowman and Nicholas Lee. From left (sitting): Christopher Howe, Frazier Grandison, Jayden Mighty and Marco Bowman.

As the momentum picks up in motor racing in Jamaica, Automotives continues to showcase some of the prominent and growing figures in the sport.

This week, we highlight Matthew Jordan Lee, a 25-year-old circuit racer and member of the increasingly popular Chill Drink Chat Ride (CDCR) crew. Lee credits much of his success in racing to his family, as well as the support of sponsors such as Jetcon Cars, Bush Trails Excursion Tours, Cable Pro Data Services, P&L Racing and MoTuned. His introduction to racing, he said, came as a result of family influence.

"I got started in racing through my parents. My mom, Lisa Bowman Lee, was female champion, and my dad, Paul Anthony Lee, was Modified Production class champion." The young racer often trains with his dad in the Subaru Impreza STI type R that he takes to the track for events.

Lee's participation in circuit racing is also influenced by his parents and his own ardent love of the sport. "My parents used to do it, and I've been watching Formula One (F1) since I was a kid. That is the pinnacle of circuit racing, and I always loved it ever since my mom and dad were doing it," he said.

Some of the thrills of being a racer, said Lee, are experienced when he is in a competition. "It's thrilling to know that I can go fast and actually compete against other people and beat them," he said.

The adrenaline rush that he gets from being on the track is something else that Lee loves about motorsport. "When you get to the track, first, you have all these emotions, like fear, and you start thinking, 'am I going to let people down?' or 'am I going to let myself down?' When you go out on the track, everything just disappears. The adrenaline gets you through all of that, and you just concentrate on trying to get to the front and trying to drive your lines perfectly. It's just an amazing feeling!

"Passion is what drives you in racing," he explained.

And it is with passion that Lee seems to manage challenges that come with racing, including being a final-year mechanical engineering major while also professionally racing at events. "The most challenging part is really time management. You have to set aside your time to dedicate to the car, to practice and just to the track and racing in general. Once you have time management down, you're good to go."

The young racer looks up to other figures in motorsport largely because of their passion for the sport. In terms of international racing figures, Lee pinpoints former Brazilian driver and three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna da Silva as one who stands out to him most. "He had great passion. he was unbreakable on the track and everything that a true racer should be." He also looks up to racing figures such as his parents, as well as the likes of David Summerbell Jr and Doug 'Hollywood' Gore. "Those guys drove by passion and motivated me to actually want to become a professional racer."


Being a young racer among lively competition


When asked about competition in light of being a young racer among a quickly burgeoning group of young Jamaican racers, Lee gave some insight on how he views his competition: "The way I look at my competition is that as they get better, I get better. If I am beating them and they don't get better, then both of us are actually failing as racers because I am supposed to help them to get better so that I can get better and we both keep improving. I look at it as a friendship off-track and a rivalry on-track."

In terms of being on the track, Lee views himself as a calculating racer, focusing on tactics and noting any faults on which to improve for later performance.

As the holder of quite a few racing titles for 2018, Lee's tactics seem to be working well so far. He dominated the IP2 class in Dover's 2018 Heroes of Speed event despite having an incident in the first lap of the IP2 race. The racer describes getting over such incidents on the track by simply focusing on the desire to win: "You have to just forget what happened previously and concentrate on driving all your lines perfectly. Just keep trying to do perfect laps every lap." Lee came out of October's biggest racing event as the IP2 champion and the MP4 champion, as well as the Heroes of speed meet champion for IP.


Future plans for racing


Racing is definitely a big part of the future for Matthew Lee, both locally and internationally. On the concept of international racing, Lee stated, "It is on the table. Next year, we're hoping to enter the Jamaican leg of the Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC), and in 2020, we want to extend more into the Caribbean. For now, the main focus is local and moving into the CMRC, which is regional. But definitely, in the future, the hope is to get to international racing." His next time on the track will be on February 27, 2019, at Jamwest Speedway. Preparations have already begun.