NOVEMBER 30, 2004
The Nassau Speed Weeks
Back in the 1950s and 1960s one of the most popular events of the year was the Nassau Speed Week, which attracted many of the top drivers of the day to the Bahamas for a series of races. The brainchild of Captain Sherman F 'Red' Crise, who saw the idea as a means of bringing tourists to the islands, the racing began in 1954 and was a regular feature of late November-early December. The races attracted the best Europeans and often many of the big American names as well. Originally held at Windsor Field, a very primitive 3.5 mile track on a disused airfield, the event moved in 1957 to Oakes Field. The two major events were the Governor's Trophy and the Nassau Trophy and the rolls of honour of the two are testament to the mixing of the European and American scenes with the winners including Alfonso de Portago, Masten Gregory, Carol Shelby, Phil Hill, Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, the Rodriguez brothers, Innes Ireland, AJ Foyt, Roger Penske and Bruce McLaren. In the 1960s Formula Junior joined the roster but the races ran into trouble in 1966 when an ancient landing craft, in which the cars were transported to the islands, was impounded by the customs. There was an attempt to revive the event in 1967 in Freeport. There was a further revival in 1984. Now it seems there is another attempt to revive the Speed Weeks with plans for a street race in Nassau to see if there is demand for a permanent racing facility in the Bahamas. The event is being promoted by Wirth Associates, which has experience of powerboat racing, and involves Andrew Marriott, who used to run the CSS promotional agency, well-known in F1 circles. The plan is not aimed at F1 but rather at other series which will enjoy a little of the Caribbean winter weather.
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