Bushy Park Developers in for the long term

Bushy Park Developers in for the long term

The developers behind the upgrade of the 40-year-old Bushy Park race track in Barbados into a multipurpose motor sport facility are in it for the long term, for the good of the island's sports-tourism product . . . and would be delighted if it also provided the springboard to create the Caribbean's next Lewis Hamilton.

In the first phase of the redevelopment, the original 1.3-kilometre layout is being extended to create a 2.02kms circuit, designed to achieve Grade 3 certification from motor sport's world governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), which will enable FIA-sanctioned categories, including single-seaters and touring cars, to be staged there; the venue will reopen in 2014.

The 2.02kms circuit will have a constant width of 12 metres, while internal link roads will allow for more than one circuit configuration and facilitate the creation of a kart circuit of up to 1.2kms, which is designed to hold International karting events.

Interviewed on island motor sport programme Race 1, Mark Maloney, who is head of the development team, said: "The up-front cost of building the Club House, the different tracks, the pits, the grandstands and all the infrastructure . . . that is all 'seed money' that has come from investors that are either confident that it will make sense in the long run, or are involved for the love of the sport. And all are persons who are doing it for the good of Barbados and for the growth of sports tourism.

"We're limited to what we can do here. It's not going to be a viable facility in terms of financial return immediately. It is going to take time for the commercial side, which will come in the next phase.

"I believe we can create many more Lewis Hamiltons. To be able to create a new Lewis Hamilton, we have to have a facility that the kids can start on from seven or eight years old, not 15 or 16, so that's the intention."

The facility will be operated by the newly-formed Bushy Park Circuit Inc (BPCI). Operations Director Mark Hamilton added: "The investors are very conscious of the fact that this is not a short-term win; it will be a medium-term to long-term win. There are many aspects of the facility's ability to generate revenue, and we are working through that thought process - what we can charge at the gate, how we're going to deal with marketing partners and sponsors, all of those things are vital to making the facility sustainable."

The new face of Bushy Park is already becoming clearer, with the initial groundworks for the revised layout already completed, a little over 10 weeks since the workforce moved in to the 55-acre site in the parish of St Philip on the last Monday of August.

The first aerial shot of the site since the redevelopment started, snapped on a smart phone through an aircraft window by multiple circuit racing Champion Kurt Thompson, has been posted and viewed on a host of regional social media sites. As his flight departed the island's Grantley Adams International Airport, its route passed close to the eastern perimeter of Bushy Park, giving him the chance to shoot an image clear enough to show how much work has been done, leading to much speculation about progress.

BPCI Operations Director Mark Hamilton provided an update: "The foundations of the new southern loop are now complete, running through what has been the pits area since the 1990s. Those sections of the old circuit incorporated in the new design have also been completely excavated to the new 12-metre width in readiness for the next stage of construction.

"We have also carried out extensive re-grading in three particular spectator areas, to the south west, and also at each end of the hill either side of where the Club House used to stand. This work had a dual purpose . . . it will enhance the experience for future patrons, by creating graded and more comfortable spectator areas, but it has also been a valuable source of the materials needed for the groundworks of the upgraded circuit."

In company with Mark Maloney and his father Doug, who will compete in the Group 4 CMRC races, Thompson will be a member of Team Barbados at the final round of the Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Championship at South Dakota in Guyana in two weeks' time (November 24); his father Peter and brother Mark, the reigning Group 2 Champion, will also compete, as will 2011 Gp2 Champion Kenrick Husbands, Quincy Jones and Steve King.