Motorsport Caribbean Style
Graham Read, Formula 1 Correspondent
When you think of the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados, what springs to mind is likely to include hot sunshine, warm clear blue seas, beautiful hotels and pristine beaches, often sprinkled with a smattering of celebrities.
Situated in the eastern Caribbean and crucially outside the Hurricane belt, Barbados is a small island of just 166 square miles with a population of less than 300,000.
Formerly British but an independent state since 1966 whilst still within the Commonwealth, English is the main language, the parish and places names are synonymous with the UK and they even drive on the left.
The climate is wonderful, with temperatures year round of 25-30C and cooling breezes off the Atlantic onto the eastern coast.
As I personally discovered recently though, there is so much more to Barbados than the gorgeous weather and beautiful scenery and one connection you are probably least likely to think of in relation to the island is motorsport and Formula 1.
Yes, you may be surprised to learn that Barbados has its own fully fledged motor racing circuit, which was first established back in 1971. It is called Bushy Park and is located in the parish of St. Philip in the flat south east of the island.
It was refurbished and reopened in 2014 and includes a 2.2 kilometre FIA grade 3 motor racing circuit, a 1.2 kilometre CIK grade 1 karting track and a drag racing facility. As well as holding race meetings Bushy Park also offers a variety of other driving related experiences.
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If you fancy experiencing something even faster you can be driven round the circuit in a powerful Radical race car and also receive advanced instruction behind the wheel of one of these flying machines yourself.
Back in 2016 Bushy Park held an event called the Barbados Festival of Speed and everyone was delighted when a certain multiple Formula 1 world champion called Lewis Hamilton joined them for the festivities as a special guest. He received a warm welcome and thrilled the crowds with some demonstration runs in a Mercedes F1 car.
A major international car rally takes place on Barbados each year too, which is proving increasingly popular with both competitors and spectators. Called the Sol Rally Barbados, it takes place from June 1-3 this year and provides a valuable financial input to the island’s finances as well as being an excellent addition to the local mixed sporting calendar.
Barbados may be an island of great contrasts, geographically, socially and in terms of relative wealth and poverty, but the local Bajans are so welcoming and friendly with a wonderful sense of humour. Wherever you venture on the island you always feel safe, perhaps unlike in some Caribbean destinations, and it’s a great place to tick off another motorsport circuit visited around the world.
Motorsport Caribbean Style, 24th January 2018, 11:43 AM