August 10, 2012
Mechanics are making final checks under the hoods of more than 50 luxury cars that will be paraded through the streets of New Providence, when The Bahamas Speed Week once again takes over the capital in a few months.
With just 106 days left before the drivers rev up their engines to partake in the highly anticipated week, organizers have shifted into another gear preparing for the event that is expected to bring thousands of visitors to New Providence. The series of races and cultural events will be held between November 24 and December 2.
The revival of speed week has been a dream of Jimmie Lowe and David McLaughlin. Lowe is the association's president and McLaughlin an organizer. Both gentlemen were around in the 1950s and 1960s when the event was a big hit in the country. They have given of all their time and effort to ensure that the event, sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, is a success.
"This year we have worked tirelessly to make this happen," said Lowe. "It has been a dream for about 30 years. This event originated back in the 1950s and 1960s and it was about tourism, putting heads on beds, bringing people in just after the Thanksgiving weekend and (filling) a lull we had between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is why it is held the time of year it is held this year as well.
"When we started this out we had a five year plan. Our goal is to make this the biggest social must do event in The Bahamas going forward. Our view, going forward, is to some day do it again with golf carts for the kids here in The Bahamas, get them interested."
An 18,000 square foot tent was erected in the parking area at Arawak Cay last year, this time around the organizers are putting up a 26,000 square foot tent. This will accommodate the 60 cars that will compete in the week-long event. So far, more than 30 drivers have confirmed their participation. The route has also been extended making it accessible to all, especially viewers and patrons of Fish Fry.
The event has attracted drivers from the local and international arenas. According to Lowe, most of the cars will be coming out of Europe and will be added to the count of local vehicles. Lowe, as well as Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe, is pleased to know that the revival of speed week works hand-in-hand with the government's Sports Tourism initiative. Island hopping is high on the schedule of events listed.
Lowe said: "This year we are going to have some out island trips available for people who come to travel. We want them to go out and see the out islands, see what the rest of the islands are about. It is not only about Nassau, it is also about the out islands and the whole of The Bahamas.
"We had quite a few people who came in residents of the out islands last year to visit and be a part of speed week. So there is a little part of domestic tourism we might be able to touch as well. We look forward to advertising that in the out islands, and make sure that people are aware of the event taking place in Nassau."
Mr Wilchcombe congratulated Lowe and McLaughlin for making the dream a reality. He said that there is enormous potential for the country, from the event.
"I believe that your involvement of the vendors, Bahamian people, generally, is the right thing to do," he said. "If the people aren't involved then more than likely, you are not going to be as successful as you want to be. But the buzz is created when the people get involved and talk about what can become that event. Then the world will recognize The Bahamas.
"It is also true that we strongly support Sports Tourism. When the department was created several years ago, it was always intended to use our shores to promote sports. What we are seeing now is this great attraction over the next several weeks. We will be hearing more about major golf events, also our relationship with sporting organization whether it is basketball or professional football, or baseball. The whole idea is to ensure that The Bahamas is, at all times, recognized for the destination that offers you everything you want and fulfilling the dreams that you have. Speed week has an appeal, and I have told the Director General what we must do is contribute more to the marketing of it, to ensure that we are getting the coverage of it around the world. Promote what you are doing to make it that exciting event that we believe will draw people from around the world."
Speed week will kick-off with a concert at Arawak Cay and an Auto Trade Show on November 24. The Antique Auto Club Show and Miss Speed Week beauty pageant will be held on Sunday.
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