Dean Shaw (Right) and his famous Blown '69 Camaro. This car is the only doorslammer running eights in Jamaica.
Mario James, Gleaner Writer
Drag Racing is probably the truest form of motorsport there is. It is about speed, not so much on finesse; it is a brute force solution to the problem of getting to the finish line first. Not much race strategy, but a lot of race preparation, more about the car than the driver, but the limits of both can be tested just the same.
It seems like the writing was on the wall for aficionados of the quarter this year. Vernam as a venue was lost to promoters, as the recent finding of a scuttled ganja transport has likely killed any prospect of an event being held there again. It is now under Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) lockdown. But the racing bug is big in the island, and this is a sport that has been driven underground too many times, with predictable results. JamWest as a drag racing venue has been closed to promoters as well, fractured relationships between the venue owner and promoters, hampering the progression and development of the sport in the island. But for one glorious weekend, hatchets were buried, a product designed and marketed, and the results were spectacular.
For two days, 15,000 people attended the event, a number previously unheard of in drag racing circles. The parking lot, hastily demarcated for the event, took two hours and forty-five minutes to empty after the proceedings. At 2:30 on Sunday, when this writer got to the venue, it took an hour just to get in. The wait and inconvenience was worth it, however.
Automotives arrived just in time for the finals. To see a proper tower, with a real sportsman tree and a decent timing system that allowed for real NHRA staging techniques was equipment that this writer had not seen in Jamaica before. Meets have been held locally with this apparatus, but these meets were not patronised by this writer.
The action was fast and furious. There were seven classes from eight-14 seconds with nearly 90 cars competing for the final ladder spots. After a day and half of elimination, the field was littled down to 10 cars. Craig Lue and his immaculately prepared Evo VII took the 10-second class, but had been playing second fiddle all day to Keroy Scott's home-built special, a 1986 Corolla DX wagon with a Toyota 1JZ engine. Transmission failure put him out of the final, and a likely win, as Craig was not able to better a previous 10.6 run posted by Scott on the way to the final. The anticlimactic race was one of the highlights of the event, with both competitors ready to go full bore. The 11-second class was just as exciting , with another home-built almost claiming top honours; Richard 'Puffy' Nicholas' slicked up Toyota Starlet ended lining up against Shaun Smith's Honda Civic. Fuel problems kept Puffy out of contention, the win light going to Shaun who posted a stellar 11.114 et.
At the 12-second level, the class is pretty much dominated by the fast street cars. N.Rhone in his Toyota Starlet triumphed over S. Andersons' Honda Civic. Rhone won in a time of 11.9 secs. The 13 and 14 second classes were won by R. Ramdial (Honda Civic, 13.107) and Neville Hogg (14.188), respectively. Both eight and nine second classes had only one competitor each, so there was no competition, and both did bye runs with Dean Shaw's '69 Camaro fielding a 8.788 et and the Mustang of Maxroy Allen running an easy 10.689.
The bikers were not to be left out, as it seems the entire island, parish by parish, was represented. The Crazy Bikers stunt crew were on hand as well to amaze and entertain, as well as stunt specialists from overseas. The racing, though, got every one's attention, as these races were won by experience. Folks with mega-dollar machines were there, but in the end a Portmore resident got the win with his.
All in all, was an excellent event marred only by the aforementioned parking lot fiasco. Automotives thinks that this is a step in the right direction, and only needs more organisation for it to become a potential world-class success story. It was a spectacle to that was enjoyed by all participants, despite its billed name 'Nevasatisfy'd' Satisfied!