Icons of motorsport recognised
Icons from karting, street biking, dirt biking and powerboat racing were inducted into the inaugural Bermuda Motorsports Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
The Bermuda Karting Club, the Bermuda Motocross Club, the Bermuda Power Boat Association and the Bermuda Motorcycle Racing Club each nominated five athletes, past and present, who have made outstanding contributions to their sports.
Nominees had to have been a club founder, race-team owner, volunteer, mechanic, committee member or motorsports advocate, as well as having served their clubs for a minimum of five years.
More than 120 people, including sports minister Lovitta Foggo, attended the induction ceremony and cocktail gala at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club on Saturday night.
The five inductees from the BMC were Robin Simmons, who served as the first president of the Bermuda Auto-Cycle Union, Burt Ingham, a pioneer of the sport, Chris Shanks, who won three straight 250cc championships and Rudy Cann, a five-times winner known for his wildly fast style.
Also included in the hall of fame was Aaron Pace, who was just 29 when he died in a road accident in 2006. Pace won titles in the 80cc and 125cc classes and is remembered as one of the most flamboyant and exciting riders the island has produced.
The BPA, the oldest of the four clubs, nominated Harry Cox, Richard Christensen, Lawrence “Tonky” Trott, Llewelyn Hollis and Mike Marshall as their inductees.
Cox, who died in 1997 aged 70, won the second Round the Island race, Christensen, served as the BPA commodore and flag officer from 1961 to 1973 and won the Round the Island race in 1962 and the J&B Classic in 1973, while Hollis is a former club commodore renowned for his sportsmanship.
Trott, who died in 2000 aged 65, was a popular figure who rarely missed a race for more than 20 years, while Marshall is a two-times Round the Island winner and competed with distinction overseas.
David Jones, Navell “Beetle” Darrell, Rick Vesely, Edward Cook Jr and Cyril Whitter III were the BMRC riders to be enshrined into the hall of fame.
Jones said it was an honour and privilege to be among the first inductees at the ceremony, which will be held biennially, with the four clubs nominating two decorated names each year.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to be honoured with all of those legends,” said Jones, who finished tenth at the Race of Champions at the Daytona International Speedway in 1993.
“I’ve learnt so much and I feel totally informed and enlightened.”
The island’s karting community nominated Maynard “Duke” Soares, who founded the BKC in 1976 and represented the island overseas, Carlton Johnson, who was the owner and mechanic of a team that won three championships, Joel Madeiros, one of the club’s founding members, Jason “Skuzzie” North, the first driver to win three classes in a season, and Scott “Skitchy” Barnes, who has won 15 local championships, more than any other driver.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming to be among all of these legends,” North said. “It’s a huge honour. It goes to show how important our histories are, not just for the youth of today, but preserving what was done in the past.”
Barnes, who established the hall of fame committee, added: “I have to give a huge thank you to Jason “Skuzzie” North for taking me under his wing at 15 and showing me everything. He’s a huge part of my karting career.”
The Bermuda Motorsports Hall of Fame will be housed at the Bermuda Transport Museum in Dockyard.
“There’s so much history in motorsports and it doesn’t seem as though we get as much recognition in Bermuda as the other sports,” Barnes added.
“We’ve talked about the hall of fame for a long time; I called up a few people and we just ran with it. Without Ras Mykkal [the BMC], David Selley [the BPA] and Takera Dill [the BMRC] this wouldn’t have happened.
“Hopefully it will lead to great things in the future. This isn’t a one-time event, this is a starting point.”