On the surface Cayman’s chief race body may be all about competition, however the Cayman Motorsports Association has a wider goal of improving local drivers. That fact should be welcome considering the amount of accidents the Cayman Islands observe.
The group is not new in Cayman, having started out in the 1980s as the Autocross Association of the Cayman Islands. The idea centred on young men driving their cars in confined spaces as quickly and safely as possible; the basic idea behind versions of autocross and dexterity racing seen around the world today. Races were strictly on Grand Cayman in locales like Everglo drive-in in Bodden Town and the legendary Lakeview Raceway in George Town.
Interestingly, meets progressed from competing against the clock to racing against two or more drivers at a time.
The focus has shifted over the years, evolving from a purely social pursuit through grassroots racing and kiddie go-karts to its current emphasis on adult driver skill. In a way, the association has come full circle. It started out strictly as an autocross group before branching out to circuit and go-kart racing, only to return to offering strictly autocross fun.
These days, the staple activity is the monthly autocross race titled Time Attack. Racers are split up into classes, depending on a car’s drive train (for example Front Wheel or All Wheel Drive) and modifications. Conducted as a series on a yearly basis, drivers are rewarded for consistently low times around the Progressive Loop, located on Sparky Drive off North Sound Road in George Town. Interestingly, the area also is home to Cayman’s only go-kart track, Cayman Karting.
With the other major types of motorsports now gone from these shores, Time Attack is the only avenue left to legally push cars to their limits and earn kudos and prizes for doing so. Through it all, the association maintains that its overriding goal is safety and driver development. In the past, the group has reached out to local safe driving advocates like MattSafe, with workshops being conducted on the subjects of novice drivers, car maintenance/modification and general road safety.
Current president Karyll Iton states the positives of autocross go beyond discouraging racing on the streets. “At the end of the day, that’s one of our proudest achievements: advancing our drivers,” Iton says.
“The two-car battle runs at Time Attack this year, for example, added more to our events. They advanced the skill set of drivers.”
Next up for Iton and his crew is the annual Al and Jay Bodden Memorial race. Tentatively scheduled for 18 November, 2012, the Progressive Loop is slated to serve as the venue. The meet is dedicated to Al and Jay Bodden, who were huge contributors to racing in Cayman. Father Jay Bodden owned the land on which the Progressive Loop now sits.
That property was also the site of the old Lakeview Raceway dirt track, a venue the association previously relied on to host circuit races. Jay allowed the association to host Time Attack on a portion of his land beginning in 2007. He passed away in 2009, with son Al preceding him in death years before that.
Usually the last autocross event of the year, around 20 drivers regularly turn out to the memorial. The association began hosting the race to commemorate the Boddens in 2009. It is usually an endurance race that is longer than usual meets, offering either 100 total laps or 10 laps per competitor. Each run lasts around two minutes, which is long by normal local standards. Timing is cumulative with the worst two runs being dropped. Iton states the 2012 edition will see some changes.
“Before, it was about the competitors having 10 runs,” he says. “Now we have to be cognisant of the environment, making use of scarce resources. We don’t have access to the land as we used to, due to more development in the area. We don’t have the luxury anymore of going from 9am until 4pm.
“Before, errors were costly as it was a cumulative time event. Now, if you make mistakes, you’re knocked out. The intensity is there; you have to be faster than the next guy.”