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News : Local Last Updated: Jan 25, 2018 - 12:21:24 PM


Motor Sports Icon David McLaughlin ‘Bahamas Use Your Heritage’
By Diane Philips & Associates
Jan 24, 2018 - 12:15:02 PM

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FIA Development Director for the Caribbean, classic race car event organizer, former race car driver and Bahamas Edu-karting program developer David McLaughlin says The Bahamas has a great opportunity to benefit from its own heritage in the world’s most watched sport.

“You can’t buy heritage,” says motor sports icon David McLaughlin, “and no one has a heritage in motor sport like The Bahamas. Use it well and you’ll be amazed at the international attention.”

McLaughlin, a former race car driver turned major classic car event organizer and the first FIA director for Caribbean motor sport development and road safety, felt compelled to comment after back-to-back reminders of the pivotal role Nassau played in race car history.

“Dan Gurney, a legendary race car driver and a true pioneer in the sport, died this week,” McLaughlin said. “Gurney was the first driver to win in every category of racing -- Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR. There was not an event in motor sport that he did not participate in and not a major event that either he or the team he created did not win. Only Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya could approach the same class of achievement and fame. And when Dan died of complications from pneumonia last Sunday (January 14), what photo accompanied the news around the world? It was a grinning, handsome Dan Gurney holding the trophy he won in December 1962 in Nassau Speed Week.”

The world remembers Nassau, Bahamas, as the seat of history in Formula One and Ferrari racing, McLaughlin said. But The Bahamas is not taking advantage of its important heritage in a sport that is watched by more than 400 million people.
 
The second reminder was a magazine article in MOTOR SPORT, the premier British motor racing magazine. The piece traced the history of the famed Ford GT40, the car Henry Ford II built to beat Ferrari when Ferrari would not sell out to him. The car that would go on to win the grueling 24-hour Le Mans was first unveiled in 1964 Nassau Race Week.

“Nassau Race Week 1964 marked the first time that an American car beat a European car, another piece of motor sport history that is still being remembered around the world and cited regularly outside The Bahamas,” said McLaughlin. “That car today would be worth $15 million.”

Nassau Race Week, which was held between 1954 and 1966 in Oakes Field, was the highlight of the social season and drew CEOs and stars of screen and industry from all over along with hundreds of spectators who lined the streets. McLaughlin chaired the revival editions from 2011-2015 but without a proper circuit, the events were more glamour than speed though they did attract international attention along with the presence of the legendary Sir Stirling Moss.
  
“If you Google Nassau Speed Week, you get 1.5 million references, including a very extensive entry on Wikipedia with individual chapters on its history, the revival, all the drivers,” said McLaughlin, whose role with the governing body of motor sport, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) includes a road safety initiative.

“The Bahamas has this incredible history and heritage and yet there is no race track now, no museum, almost no recognition,” said McLaughlin. “There is a world of opportunity waiting.”   

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