Sports minister dismisses talks of drag racing takeover

Drag racing is a popular sport amongst the young here in Antigua. (Social media photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, has sought to debunk reports of a planned “takeover” of the drag racing facility located just east of the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground by the recognized governing body for motor sports here, Antigua Pro Racing Ltd.

Matthew’s attempts to appease public curiosity, comes amidst widespread belief that plans are afoot by the body, which consists of members affiliated to the Crabb’s Raceway and its rally racing fraternity, to take control of drag racing after they had applied for and received membership privileges from the International governing body for motor sports, the FIA.

“Each sporting discipline has a world governing body that administers the sport worldwide and has a local representation in each country or countries that are interested in participating in the sport so they have their local representatives. The world body for motor sports is the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile),” he said.

“In Antigua and Barbuda we have two different disciplines of motor sports that takes place, the rally racing that takes place up at Crabb’s and the drag racing that takes place at North Sound so it stands to reason that the FIA, having a representative in Antigua and Barbuda, that representative would be the local governing body for all motor sports and the registered representative of the FIA in Antigua and Barbuda is Antigua Pro Racing,” he added.

Being affiliated to the FIA means that Antigua Pro Racing Ltd is the regulatory body for all motor sports in Antigua and Barbuda and that the Antigua and Barbuda Drag Racing Association (ABDRA) must is answerable to the supervisory body.

Matthew said he has encouraged the drag racing body take the necessary steps to ensure they occupy a seat or seats at the head table of Antigua Pro Racing Ltd.

 “What I had said to the drag racing folks in a meeting is do not give up your seat at the table. You have the opportunity because as it is now the Antigua Pro Racing, (which is the governing body registered by FIA and recognized governing body for motor sports in Antigua and Barbuda), is made up of a board of directors of which Ambassador Carlo Falcone — and somebody mentioned we [government] are trying to give racing to Falcone and that sort of rubbish — but I had said to the drag racing folks on Friday that I will ensure and the Antigua Motor Sports organisation has agreed to ensure that members of the drag racing fraternity sits on that board so it’s not a board that’s made up of only rally racing people,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, one executive member of the drag racing association and veteran racer and car owner, Ambassador Paul Ryan, explained how Antigua Pro Racing Ltd came into being, adding there is no rift between the two bodies.

“Remember, Falcone is a big international drag racer. However, he wanted to represent the country, and for him to represent the country, the country must have had a governing body that gave him permission to represent the country. If you go way back, there was representation for ABDRA on Antigua Pro Racing; however, what happened nobody knows but you cannot carry the country’s flag unless you have a local governing body,” he said.

“I don’t see any problems. I see better things, I see the fact that the North Sound track can go forward and get liability insurance which is what the Crabb’s track has and that is the most significant thing and the most important thing that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is looking for,” he added. 

No races have been held at the North Sound Raceway since March, following the death of racing driver Marcus Williams during the staging of an event there.

Williams’ death was however, not due to any safety breaches at the track but the sport was halted along with all other sporting activities as part of government efforts to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The sport is yet to be given permission to resume.

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