Bushy Park Barbados prepares for Race Of Champions

Bushy Park Barbados prepares for Race Of Champions

With less than a week to go to Race Of Champions Barbados (December 13/14), hundreds of workers are putting the finishing touches to the second massive facelift that Bushy Park Barbados has enjoyed in the past 14 months. Already redeveloped between August last year and May to host Top Gear Festival Barbados, phase two of Bushy Park Circuit Inc's (BPCi) project is nearing completion.

As far as the circuit itself is concerned, the key elements are the construction of the ROC Parallel Track and the ROC Skills Challenge Course, both designed by ROC co-founder Michele Mouton, who finished runner-up in the World Rally Championship in 1982, helping Audi become the first German marque to win the Manufacturers' title.

The Parallel Track is designed to facilitate the thrilling head-to-head racing for which ROC is famous: drivers start either side of the central barrier under the ROC Arch, sited in front of the Clubhouse and VIP area, then race anti-clockwise through the final two turns of a conventional lap, before the lanes spilt - one driver goes over the Bridge, one through the Tunnel, thereby switching lanes - then rejoin to swing back north again to pass under the arch and start lap two. One complete lap of both lanes measures 2.3 kilometres, using newly-laid tarmac sections to link elements of both the Bushy Park Main and Kart Circuits.

Spectators who attended the final of Suzuki Rocks last month were the first to see the new ROC Skills Challenge Course used in competition, as it was part of the selection process for Team Barbados. Sited on a new 80m x 40m tarmac pad facing the Pits, Mouton's design presents a range of driving challenges, including chicanes, slaloms, 360- and 180-degree turns and parallel parking.

Both these elements of the Race Of Champions construction will remain as permanent features of Bushy Park. The ROC Bridge has been designed so that a jump can be introduced for Rallycross events, while several of the ROC cars will stay behind, allowing islanders and visitors alike to tackle the Skills Course in identical equipment to legends of motor sport, providing a direct comparison with the world's best drivers.

Overlooking the circuit from the north is the new Clubhouse and VIP facility, replacing that which was in place for Top Gear Festival Barbados. This entirely new two-storey building sits in roughly the same location as the Clubhouse of the 1970s, but on twice the footprint, and will provide accommodation - and trackside seating - for around 1,500 in the Clubhouse and a further 1,000 in the upstairs VIP area. While the Clubhouse and VIP incorporate washroom facilities on three floors, two new permanent blocks of washrooms have been built to the rear, one each to the east and to the west, to serve spectators on The Hill.

Alongside the Clubhouse to the west is the new Race Control building, which will house raceday administration on three levels. On the ground floor is a Media Centre, with a view across the circuit and access to information (although the media will be accommodated in the pits for ROC); the middle floor, split into two rooms, will accommodate Race Control and the Venue Operations Centre, while the top level, which is currently of an open gallery design, will provide an additional viewing area for media, particularly videographers, also commentary facilities.

Work has also been going on apace in the Pits. To the west of the existing Pits Complex, a second structure is nearing completion: the ground floor already incorporates the BPCi offices, which will include a Merchandise Outlet, plus a number of other multi-purpose rooms that can be used for Bushy Park Experience classroom sessions, training and other events, along with storage. The second floor comprises additional corporate hospitality space, with trackside seating, designed to be adaptable to the needs of sponsors seeking one-off raceday hospitality.

The Canteen, another new structure, sits to the south of the Pits; with washrooms and a restaurant area, it is designed to provide catering for competitors, the media and everyone involved in racedays and can accommodate up to 800 people. It will also be used as a 'Welcome Centre' for visitors and Bushy Park Experiences, with a separate area devoted to the Suzuki-powered Radical SR3 sports cars.

Finally, facing north and overlooking some of those elements of Old Bushy Park that have been retained, the first of a number of Toy Barns is nearing completion. For ROC weekend, this will be used as the Driver's Lounge, adjacent to the car changing area on the exit of the W's Hairpin. This building is, in effect, three town houses . . . the ground floor of each is a garage, with the first floor for entertaining and the second - but only in the centre of the block - also including two bedrooms. Interest has already been shown in these from potential local and overseas investors.

Tickets for ROC 2014 are available on-line at www.bushyparkbarbados.com/roc-tickets, also from Automotive Art outlets at Welches, Wildey and Six Roads, Sol gas stations and Digicel Bridgetown and Sheraton; they can be bought using the Cave Shepherd card. Sign up for all the latest updates at www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook or @raceofchampions on Twitter and keep in touch via BushyParkBarbados and ROCBarbados on Facebook.