Mention the Caribbean and you immediately think sun, rum and perfect beaches – but motorsport probably won’t be on the list. So when we heard that the Bushy Park circuit on Barbados would be hosting the first ever Barbados Festival of Speed we felt compelled to investigate…
Top bike racers, superbikes, Hayabusa-powered Radical SR3s, monster trucks, banger racers, freestyle motocross, and some chap called Lewis Hamilton flying around in a Formula 1 car? It’s a crazy enough cocktail on its own, without hosting the entire petrol-hedonist’s dream on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean.
Bushy Park is Barbados’ only short circuit – situated in the south-eastern parish of St Philip – and it’s undergone some serious changes under the ownership of CEO Mark Maloney, the brains behind this star-studded event. It’s hard to get your head around how so much can come together on single day, but 9 hours of relentless and eclectic speed has to be worth $50 (£19) from anyone’s wallet – assuming of course that you happen to be on Barbados already.
The intense heat and midday sun sees the grandstands flutter into a sea of umbrellas, not heralding an impending tropical storm – but offering some protection from the relentless sun. Meanwhile the track erupts into a full day of noise and action as British greats like Carl Fogarty and Lewis Hamilton mingle amongst fans in the pits.
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the whole event ran with a typically Bajan mix of warmth, colour and the distinct feeling of being slightly unpolished – perfectly mirroring the Bajan way of life. But just like Blighty’s own Goodwood Festival of Speed, the BFOS has a fantastic informality that allows you to get really close to the superstars, and feel like you’re ingrained in the action, not just a detached onlooker. It’s hard not to get sucked into the madness of this sun-baked speed extravaganza. It really is spectacular to behold.
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