Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Waiting game for motor racing

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2020 | 12:27 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Action from the Carnival of Speed event at Dover Raceway in St Ann on April 6, 2015.
Action from the Carnival of Speed event at Dover Raceway in St Ann on April 6, 2015.

While motor racing in Jamaica remains in a holding pattern, Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club (JMMC) president Stephen Gunter says that there is the possibility that fans could return to events on a phased basis should approval be given to restart competitions.

In an interview with The Gleaner in April, Gunter targeted a June return to racing, however, the suspension, which was first issued in March, is still in effect.

“Yes, I would think that it (fans at racing events) is possible. I would expect that once we get the green light, the smaller spectator events, the go-kart racing, the dexterity tests, the gravel sprints, those would probably take place first,” Gunter said.

However, he anticipates that it would take some time for fans to return to competitions at Dover Raceway.

“Dover Raceway, which attracts thousands of spectators, I would imagine that those organisations would take some time before they think about jumping back into the fire,” he said. “So I anticipate the smaller events to take place first, and depending on the amount of time left in the calendar year, a number of the large events taking place.”

NO DEFINITE TIMELINE

Gunter said that a definite timeline for a return to racing this year is dependent on guidance from the health ministry as well as the Prime Minister’s Office. However, he says that the various local racing entities have been initiating health protocols, which have been tailored to meet international standards to guarantee safety once approval is given.

“The International Automobile Federation developed a policy two months ago that they issued to all of their affiliates, and we shared that document with every organiser of motor sport in Jamaica, so they have been behind the scenes putting in the protocols that will be necessary once we are allowed to resume motor sport. Right now it is just a matter of making the preparations and waiting,” Gunter stated.

Meanwhile, rallycross driver Fraser McConnell is anxious for a return to local racing and believes that other means of income such as live streaming could be used to supplement gate receipts lost due to the absence of spectators.

“I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be racing in Jamaica already. Obviously, the fans will be an issue because the gate money is normally what is the main income for all these racing clubs, and it will be near to impossible for a racing club to operate with no income,” McConnell said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com