The JRDC expecting an exciting race meet
Like many other sports, motor racing in Jamaica had to be postponed until the State could return to a sense of normalcy. As a result, the sport missed out on a lot of revenue, but the president of the Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC), Junior Barnes, is hoping that the upcoming race meet will be of significant benefit to the survival of the sports.
Barnes reported that it has been difficult to maintain the raceway and other amenities because no racing was in progress. “We have all been affected by this pandemic, and racing has gotten hit the worst possible way because our sole income is from our fans, so when there is no racing, there is no viable income.”
“We also have to pay our lease, light, our workers, and maintain the track, so it has been extremely hard on motor racing,” he said.
He highlighted that the JRDC comprises a family of racers, so the members share a close-knit communication, which makes it honourable to be part of the racing club. “The JRDC motto states that we race at Dover, not on the road, so safety and affordability come first. We also put out the best possible show for our fans.”
Barnes further mentioned that the strength of the JRDC is the members because they have gone above and beyond just to keep the organisation afloat. “They pay their membership fee, and we have sponsors like Lubits and Bush Trade that supported the racers in 2020, and they will extend their help in 2021, but our recently gained sponsor is Amsoil.”
GRATITUDE TO SPONSORS
He shares how grateful he is for the support he has received because it has helped the racers club to overcome most of its challenges. “With these funds, we can maintain the property and pay our lease and continue to move forward with our plans, so I want to thank our members and sponsors for taking us through the pandemic and continuing to help us.”
“However, we have gained no new sponsors because we weren’t able to engage them during the pandemic, but we will resume dialogue with other sponsors as soon as we get permission and a date from the ministry,” he added.
Despite this minor setback, he has taken the initiative to get the tracks prepared and has also encouraged drivers to come out on track days. Drivers will learn about the rules and regulations of racing and will get to drive around the track on their own.
“I expect that we will have a record-breaking meet at Dover because the supporters are ready for motorsport to be back in action, and racers are hungry and well-prepared to be on the track. Thus, when you have this type of anticipation, expect a grand sign,” he mentioned.
He implores racers to get their cars and crew ready because the race meet is going to be exciting and epic. “It’s going to be fast, furious, and exciting. A lot of new procedures are being implemented by the ministers, but the JRDC board has put it on paper, and we will proceed, so racers should just get ready because the date is close.”
He also entreats young and upcoming drivers to visit the training sessions and follow the JRDC socials if they are interested in the field. “We have go-cart racing and an IP 45-speed class, so young racers should come and ask questions and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Motorsport enthusiasts should also come and learn more because motor racing is alive and well.”
THE BENEFITS OF MOTOR RACING
When asked if he believes that motors sports can be as impactful in Jamaica as it is in other countries, Barnes stated that motorsports can be as beneficial as it is in other Caribbean countries. “In spite of the pandemic, we can unite and follow the regulations and make racing happen because we have to live through this.”
Barnes explained that if motor racing continues to attract corporate sponsorship or if Jamaicans buy in more to motorsport like Barbados, which has made millions of dollars from their race programme, then it can elevate. He also hopes that the Government views motorsport as not only a sport, but as a business entity that we can attract tourists.
“We asked the Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange, to help us with our plans to attract international racers here in Jamaica and waive some fees on cars so it can be more attractive for people to come to Jamaica and race,” he stated.
He adds that the gross domestic product on safety equipment like gloves, shoes, and helmets needs to be waived because the sport has the potential to excel.
Preparation for racing meet
To prepare for this meet, the JRDC board has put in place a sanitisation post, temperature check posts, trained more staff, and put in more security to ensure persons wear their masks.
He adds that it is more complex, but it is not impossible. “Dover is 40 acres, so we can hold up to 30,000 people, but with the pandemic, whatever number the ministry decides, that is what we will work with. We will continue to work with them for the longevity of the sports and safety of our fans.”