|Digicel Williams International starts new chapter for BARL|
The inclusion in the coming weekend’s Digicel Williams International Race Meet (August 28/29) of five drivers and four race cars from England and Ireland, a record number of International competitors for Bushy Park since 1975, heralds the start of a new chapter in the life of the Barbados Auto Racing League (BARL) . . . and, if all goes to plan, also of the St Philip racetrack, which will celebrate its 40th Anniversary next year.
Founded in 1997, BARL ran its first Williams Industries International in 2003, since then the Club has played host to 45 competitors from six countries in the region, for the past two years featuring the second round of the Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC); emphasising a rivalry dating back to the 1960s, nearly half of these competitors have been Guyanese . . . and that is reflected again this year, the regional representation being 10 from Guyana, which leads the CMRC Country standings for the first time, and four each from Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.
In the 1970s, competitors from further afield were always part of the mix in a series of International race meets in Barbados and Guyana, particularly those each November, during the UK ‘off-season’; regional competitors relished the challenge of competing against well-known characters of the British racing scene, such as Dave Brodie, Mike Crabtree, Alec Poole, Gordon Spice and Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams, and BARL’s current management aims to revive the tradition . . . and its decision could prove timely.
It has been confirmed recently that the Barbados Government has acquired the lands of the former Bushy Park Plantation, of which around 50 acres has been designated as the National home for motor sport; the development of this has been entrusted to the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), the island’s sporting authority for motor sport and representative of the world governing body, the Federation Internationale d’Automobile (FIA).
BARL Chairman Adrian Mayers notes: “BARL is at an exciting stage in its development, and hopefully also Bushy Park. The current Club management has worked hard on marketing, on innovations such as the day/night race meet, and on looking ahead: I am proud to be working with such a pro-active group, also such dedicated sponsors. Williams Industries has been on board since our first International, but a big commitment from Digicel this year meant we could raise the bar, raise the hype and really live up to the International title. “Work has started on the plans for redeveloping Bushy Park, something every race fan in the island has been hoping for, but there is no firm time line as yet. I am very grateful to the BMF, which has allowed us to include an outline of the progress so far in an article in OnTrack, the official magazine of the Digicel Williams International, which will be available at Qualifying at Bushy Park next Saturday (August 28).
“As a Club, we thought it was sensible to move now to start building new relationships overseas, and the group arriving on Wednesday includes not just the competitors, family and friends, but also media and at least one organiser. Not only is Rod Birley one of England’s most successful racers – I’m told not a lot of drivers have won more than 500 races – but he is also a regional Chairman of the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), Britain’s top race organisation, and therefore an important new contact for the future.”
Work on the Bushy Park plan is already well under way. A design and business plan for the proposed development has been created after consultation between the FIA’s Facility Advisory Partner, Apex Circuit Design, and a team from the BMF, led by its President Andrew Mallalieu, which has provided important local input. The proposed redevelopment is to create a multi-use venue for motor sport, alongside a broader community-based entertainment remit; from the motor sport perspective, the outline plan is to redevelop Bushy Park to meet FIA Category 3 homologation, which would require increasing the circuit length by around 50 per cent and its width by roughly three metres. Retaining the existing circuit, the design proposes a second loop, through the current pits area, with link roads to create more than one potential circuit layout.
As well as circuit racing, including a CIK Grade A kart track, the plan allows for a drag strip and areas for autocross, dexterity, drifting and rallycross; the venue would also be on offer for industry and road safety driver training programmes.
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