Dust settles on Vernamfield

Observer writer

Friday, August 24, 2018

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AN era of Jamaica's motorsport came to an end at the venerable Vernamfield in Clarendon on Sunday, August 12. Dubbed One Last Vernam, One Last Time, the occasion was hosted by the National Drag Racing Circuit (NDRC).

The venue is expected to be redeveloped by the Government in the coming weeks.

“It was an eventful day. Supplier delivery issues resulted in a late start; however, we were able to complete the full race programme,” Stephen Gunter, NDRC executive member, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Ninety-four racers came out to send off. While no records were broken, it went down as another day of competitive racing.

The Street classes 16, 15, and 14 were won by Damian Scott, Cedric Grubb and Brian Scott, respectively. Nigel Wilmot took the 13-second class while Chressmore White was the 12-second class victor. Pro Modified 11 and 10 went the way of Delano Fraser and Kurtis Baker, respectively. In the Pro Race 9 class, Omar Evering took top honours.

The final race of the day saw the tension, emotion and excitement come to a head as drag-racing veterans Dean Shaw, in his Camaro, faced off against the drag rail of Bryn Morgan in Pro 8 class

“I figured it would be first seven-second pass that day, at least high sevens. The wind was acting up earlier in the day, but had settled down by the time we hit the line,” Shaw said.

Fans, in their elation at seeing such big names in their final battle, rushed the staging area as both vehicles left the line and blocked the timing equipment.

“The instant both cars moved off at the green light, the more than 100 spectators rushed pass the barricades and invaded the timing area causing a blockage of the wireless signal. No data was received from the transmitters at the finish line. The Judge of Fact at the finish line reported that the race was too close to call. Showing exceptional sportsmanship both Bryn Morgan and Dean Shaw agreed to share the awards for the class,” Gunter explained.

For Shaw, the loss of Vernamfield is driving him overseas, as he plans to be racing in Grenada and the Cayman Islands next year.

“It's saddening why we're giving up the venue. It's been the foundation for local drag racing from the 70s and 80s providing a place to race safe environment,” he said.

For the NDRC, their current plan of moving the sport to Ken Jones Aerodrome in Portland, is awaiting some fine-tuning.

“We await the AAJ as they complete the process in regard to our use of the Ken Jones Aerodrome in Portland. They have already given us the okay for our Test & Tune events and are working on the main events now. It's a complicated process, mainly because Ken Jones is an active aerodrome,” Gunter added.

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