Play, fight, win repeat.
When racers last left the Frankie Boodram Wallerfield International Raceway ((FBWIR)) on August 11, they had no idea that it would be the last time that they would race at the facility.
Jameer Ali, vice-president of the T&T Automobile Sports Association (TTASA), the national governing body for motorsports in T&T, confirmed that his association was informed by Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) that its six-month license to use the Wallerfield premises expired on August 20 and that it will not be renewed.
On August 15, TTASA's requested an extension of the license period for two years to use the premises. In reply, eTeck stated in a letter that the license agreement which was executed between the parties contained a definite term of six months from February 21, 2018
The letter stated: "The License Agreement, therefore, comes to an end August 20, 2018, and did not contain within any option for a renewal of the term nor any option for an extension. eTeck, therefore, will not be granting an extension or renewal to TTASA."
The Wallerfield premises, which is managed by eTeck and falls under the Ministry of Trade and Investment, cater for a membership of 3,000 according to Ali, who said that the TTASA reached out to both the Trade and Investment Minister, Paula Gopee-Scoon and the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe for assistance.
"Minister Cudjoe accepted our request and after attentively listening to our concerns, she assured us that an expedited letter of support would be sent to the Minister of Trade and Investment for intervention on this matter," said Ali. "The Minister of Trade and Investment, the honourable Mrs Paula Gopee-Scoon has also communicated her willingness to work towards a reasonable solution."
It is alleged that the issue may have arisen due to government's plan to develop the Wallerfield property.
"We feel encouraged that both Ministers are considering our progress at the FBWIR and are truly committed to resolving this matter for us. We have expressed our dream of acquiring a permanent home for motorsports and our willingness to discuss the future of our beloved sport in T&T," said Ali, who assured that TTASA is working diligently to retain the facility and have its license to use the premises renewed to continue the great work of the association.
In 2014, TTASA got a two-year license to use the Wallerfield premises, paying TT$200,000 per year plus value-added tax (VAT). When that agreement expired eTeck lessen its license to one year then to a six-month period, ending last month. During the past four years, TTASA took the underdeveloped property and upgraded it, to become one of the premier racing track facility in the region.
"The race course is one of the best in the Caribbean behind Barbados, whose government has invested in motor racing and has brought them a lot of revenue," said Ali. "We run international and local events, bringing in revenue so we are self-sufficient. We do not rely on the government for anything."
Ali went on to boast of how well T&T drivers have been doing on the Caribbean and international circuit.
"We have produced some of the best drivers in the Caribbean," he said. "We have drivers who have the potential to become F1 (Formula1) drivers like Zachary Boodram and Cristian Boodramsingh, who competed in the Formula4 in Mexico. We also have Sheldon and Andy Bissessar who have been doing well. The list goes on and on.
"T&T has won the Caribbean Motor Racing Championship two times and this year with the last race in November. T&T leads the Championship on points."
The next big event for TTASA is carded for Republic Day, September 24.
"We also have racing every weekend till Christmas. We have local championships in drag racing, drifting, circuit racing, karting, motorbikes racing and time attack.
So, TTASA will be hoping for a quick resolution to get back on track and race.
Yesterday, a video was circulated on social media under the title: "TTASA evicted from Wallerfield", but Ali confirmed that his association played no part in the video.
"TTASA did not contribute to this video and we remain supportive of our honourable Ministers in this matter. This matter was addressed at the TTASA's membership monthly meeting this week where the facts of the lease issue were brought up. Many members and well-wishers are now expressing frustration because we are unable to access the facility but we kindly ask for your patience and good wishes for a favourable outcome."
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