Mon | Jul 6, 2020

Thomas Hall’s motorsports journey

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2020 | 12:00 AMKajamba Fitz-Henley - Automotive Writer

Motorsports in Jamaica has a host of intriguing characters varying in talent, experience, specialties, and perspectives. The Gleaner’s Automotives likes to try and capture a bit of these different perspectives through stories on the many unique stakeholders of one of our country’s most exciting sports. This week, we highlight Thomas Hall, prominent rally and circuit driver, to engage with some of his experiences in Jamaican motorsports.

“I was always interested in racing cars,” Hall told Automotives. However, he was actually the first of his family to take this interest to the professional level when he started racing in 2007 at 26 years old. Through his interest in driving, along with that of his friends, Hall eventually found himself navigating for fellow prominent rally racer Bobby Marshall.

He was actually able to surpass Marshall’s fastest time when he finally took his turn behind the wheel of a rally car. Though he started driving the circuit in the same year, Hall unquestionably found rally to be the more exciting venture.

“Rally is definitely the most fun. Just the fact that you get to go as fast as you can, and the only thing you have to worry about is staying on the road, really.”

Hall went on to explain that it is simply the unrestrained freedom of a rally track that he prefers as opposed to sharing the track with other racers on the circuit.

“I still like Dover a lot. It’s a different type of racing, but I prefer making my own mistakes rather than having accidents with other people at Dover.” Despite his preference, the racer has won his fair share of titles across motorsports: 2008 JMMC Driver Champion, 2010 and 2011 Rally Jamaica 2WD Champion.

‘LOVES THE PRACTICALITY OF THE SPORT’

Given the amount of success Hall has achieved in the sport, it is natural to wonder what really drove his interest in driving in the first place. Automotives asked just that of the racer and got a fairly insightful snippet from the 39-year-old. Aside from driving being just “plain fun”, Hall sees the practical aspect of motorsports.

“At some point you realise that it makes no sense to be going fast on the road, so you go to the race track, and that’s where you really get to experience fast driving. So you take out all your anger and frustration on the track rather than doing it on the public roads. It’s much better.”

This quality is definitely something Hall thinks more Jamaican motorists should explore. He emphasised that the vehicles used for racing actually cater directly to the safety of its drivers. As a driver, Hall obviously knows from experience:“In 2008, I had a big crash, and I came out without a scratch.” In the same year, Hall was able to take home the Jamaica national driver’s title for ‘Driver of the Year’.

His most recent success came during 2019’s Rally Jamaica, where he took second place overall alongside co-driver, James Lechler. The performance was exceptional even though it was Hall’s first time driving his four-wheel Evolution IX. The racer described the Evolution as better than his previous car “in every way”.

“It’s much faster. It has much better suspension. It has better braking. It’s overall, just a much better car, and it allows me to do more.” Though his rally performance was hindered by a flat tyre on the first day, Hall took it in stride. “With rally, anything is possible. You can go out there and you get a flat tyre, you just have to drive with it. You can’t really focus on it. You just have to get to the end of that stage, fix whatever problem you have if you can fix it, and move on.”

Overall, Hall was “very satisfied” with 2019 Rally Jamaica – a feeling that he credits to his team at Stewart’s Automotives Group and his faithful sponsors, Stewart Auto Sale, Mummy Stew, Pavecon Jamaica, Selective Construction, J&L Equipment, Willmotorsports and Automotive Art. Hall looks forward to conquering 2020 with a new car and more opportunities to come out on top.