August 09, 2012
Bahamas Speed Week has partnered with the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMSA) to boost the local automobile sector and forge new links with Bahamians. Just ahead of today's press conference, organizers provided Guardian Business with a preview of this year's event. According to David McLaughlin, a key figure behind Bahamas Speed Week, the alliance with Bahamian car dealers will translate into a new car show around Arawak Cay.
Speed Week, running from November 24 to December 2, is entering its crucial second year after its organizers revived the once high-profile event back in the 1960s. "The synergies are obvious between us and car dealers," said McLaughlin. "They are enthusiastic about helping the event and putting on a new car show." It is further expected that the BMSA will provide some form of sponsorship.
The alliance with the BMSA is just one of a number of changes to last year's formula. While the event drew high-net-worth individuals from across the world, including the founder of Walmart Rob Walton, some Bahamians felt it failed to resonate with the local population. Organizers have put into motion a number of events to change that. On Saturday, November 24, the first day of Speed Week, McLaughlin said there will be a concert featuring some well-known Bahamian entertainers, although he remained tight-lipped on the specifics.
A Miss Speed Week Pageant is also being introduced in conjunction with the organizers of Miss Bahamas, he added. Given the popularity of pageants each year, this element, also revived from the original event in the 1960s, is expected to be a crowd pleaser. An expanded go-cart circuit for families is another major attraction this year. But perhaps the biggest segment of the population to please are the Arawak Cay vendors. Last year, those entrepreneurs were outspoken on how Speed Week did not result in added sales despite assurances to the contrary.
The track, vendors said, actually cut spectators off from many of the bars and restaurants. "We have been working really hard with the vendors association this time to make sure they are involved. The plan is to go across the western bridge, along the road already behind the fish fry, and back along the eastern bridge to rejoin the circuit. The whole area at the fish fry will be the party area," according to McLaughlin. If approved, the altered circuit would provide added space and breathing room for vendors and spectators to enjoy the race. General admission tickets are now being placed in the hands of vendors, McLaughlin explained, with coupons attached to them for food and drink at the shops.
"The vendors are setting the ticket price and selling them for the arena," he said. "What we are trying to do is to set it up so they benefit." Last year, Bahamas Speed Week reportedly generated hundreds of addition room nights and brought a number of wealthy individuals to these shores. This year, however, entrants will not be restricted to a particular hotel, and instead the resorts are encouraged to come up with their own unique packages to attract business. McLaughlin said every sponsor from last year will return, including Shell, Graycliff, Pictet Bank, Carlo Milano, Bahamas Ferries, Red Bull and Bahamas Waste. Speed Week is hosting a press conference today in the British Colonial Hilton at 11 a.m.
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