By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Drag Racing Association (ABDRA), Yousef Michael, has sought to negate insinuations that his executive has not achieved anything significant since taking office in 2017.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Michael pointed to a number of undertakings by his executive aimed at improving the quality of racing at the North Sound Raceway, one of which was the widening of the space between the track and the area allotted for spectators.
“For NHRA [National Hot Rod Association] you had to have a 25 feet [distance] off the track and so that’s why we had to cut that hill and that was a big cost because we had to finish it after the government did start with some assistance, but we had to finish it and it helped with the spectators. Again, thanks to APUA for the LED lights, and when we got them we were happy, but we didn’t realise that the infrastructure [for the lights] is what costs the money and you have to get backhoe, concrete, you have to buy the wood, you have to pay the guys so everything comes with a cost,” he said.
The drag racing boss went on to add that apart from government, the body has received no significant assistance from corporate Antigua, stating that he sometimes had to dip into his own pockets to get things done. The sport he said, is an expensive one as there are always new regulations and requirements for the track.
“Before, we never had lights by the gates, and at the same time we used to have to rent the Mohawks to light up this gate and light up that gate, light up the end of the track because at the same time, we only had power to certain parts of the lights. This year, we had to buy some new LED lights because after three or four years, I can’t say they expired or wear and tear but these things do happen, so it’s an expense and I will give thumbs-up to the government first for helping us big time,” he said.
The local businessman said however that some plans did not materialise as planned owing to what he terms as “red tape.”
“We always rent bathrooms, and that’s a next thing we wanted to put up there [at the track] but we were going to do something temporarily and temporarily is not a problem, but when you start to put down a permanent structure then you realise you have to hit the brakes because you have to go to DCA or the minister because it has to be approved and this has to be changed and all of that, so when you start to do permanent structures, it’s not an overnight situation where you can say let’s put down this container or we can do this or we can do that,” he said. Michael has publicly indicated that he will not seek re-election when the body hosts its electoral congress on January 7th at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.