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David Summerbell Jr – under the helmet

BY KESI ASHER

Friday, October 29, 2010    

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WITH over 20 years of racing under his belt, David "Summer Breeze" Summerbell Jr epitomises the popular Jamaican phrase "humble calf suck di most milk" and can be defined as the best driver the Caribbean has seen in many years. Backed by a very mean machine, his Total-sponsored 2004 Evolution 8, and an excellent racing team, Summerbell Jr never disappoints and often leaves spectators at Dover in awe at his racing prowess.

"King" David Summerbell Jr, who holds the Dover track record at 1.18 seconds, was crowned the 2010 Dover and Thundersport Class Champion, and is currently leading the point standings, as the defending driver champion, in the 2010 Caribbean Motor Racing Championships (CMRC).

Summerbell Jr will seek to take home the 2010 title once again when he competes in the final leg in Guyana on November 27, and will help his teammates (Doug Gore, Peter Rae, Andre Anderson, Detier Wilson, Dean Shaw and Halquin Rodney) bring home the Country Championship for Jamaica.

It is not often that humility and excellence are paired in an individual who has claimed many championships and is phenomenal in his craft.

The Courtney Walsh Foundation recognised Summerbell Jr's talent and contribution to motor racing and nominated him for the 2010 Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence, an award that David says he is very honoured to have, being chosen from an elite group of only four people who excelled in different sports.

"It was a huge honour because it represents motor racing as a whole. When I just started racing I never imagined being recognised on a national level for this award because motor racing was never really recognised as a sport," said Summerbell Jr.

"I am very proud both as a driver and as an administrator that it is now being recognised," he added. Summerbell Jr credited Hilary Jardine, the president of the Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC), who he said has really brought the sport to the forefront.

"He has allowed me to reap some of these benefits. Considering all the great athletes we have, it is a huge achievement both for me and for the sport," said Summerbell.

Coming from a family of drivers, winning wasn't new to Summerbell. One can recall the many motor-racing exploits of the renowned David Summerbell Sr, in whose footsteps David Jr has followed closely.

"Racing was dad's sport, he raced in every motor sports event — drag, rally and circuit racing. I admire him dearly and he passed on the sport and the love for it to us," Summerbell Jr recalled. "Some of the best times we had were shared through the sport. He even raced other people's cars because he was so good. He raced in the Rabbit series overseas and finished in the top three; he raced in a series equivalent to that of a Formula two car so it was a very high standard and he raced in Santa Domingo," said Summerbell Jr.

His mother Sonia Summerbell, and sisters Jodie and Mandy, now Mandy Melville, all raced at Dover.

King David, however, wears many hats, not just the helmet of motor racing. He is also the proud father of two children, Samantha and David Senna. Continuing the Summerbell tradition David Senna does very well in Go Kart Racing, winning five of his last six races, and is also an avid chess, tennis and football player.

For his day job, Summerbell Jr wears the boss' hat as an entrepreneur at the helm of Bell Communications Limited. He also mans the desk of secretary for the Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC), organisers of Dover racing. Summerbell is effectively a man for all seasons — driver, businessman, father, meet organiser and humanitarian, with many charitable deeds done in his good nature for Father Ho Lung, Go Karting, Food for the Poor, and various educational grants among others.

Although there are too many achievements to list all, other championships outside of Dover won by "King" David include an International Invitational Racing meet in Cayman in 1998, the CMRC in 1998 and 2009, and the Sports Car Club of America (the governing body) US Pro Rally Championship in the 1998/1999 season. This was his first and only time racing overseas and he was the first person to win the Championship in a Mitsubishi and the first person from the Caribbean to win the Rally.

The development of motor racing is paramount on Summerbell Jr's agenda and he works to help build the motor racing fraternity so that new drivers can be integrated into the system and enjoy racing as much as he does.

"I would love to see one of our youngsters make it to Formula 1," remarked the accomplished driver. "I feel very proud of the work done on the Improved Production racing classes, which I helped to shape, which opens the sport to many more people."

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