Address: Bushy Park Circuit Inc., Bushy Park, St. Philip, Barbados
PH: +1 246-256-0114
Circuit type: Permanent road course
Bushy Park is now undoubtedly the finest motorsport facility in the Caribbean having undergone an extensive rebuilding to create the region's only FIA Grade 3 certified track. The reward has come in the form of a number of international events, from Red Bull Global Rallycross to the Race of Champions in 2014.
The origins of the track date back to 1971, when the original 0.808 miles (1.300 km) course was built by sugar plantation workers to a design by local rally and racing ace, Ralph 'Bizzy' Williams. Bizzy would go on to many victories at Bushy Park and holds the outright lap record for the old course.
During the first 30 years of the tracks life it established itself as a hub of the Caribbean racing scene, often drawing big crowds to events. A pioneer of what is now labeled sports-tourism, the venue was forced into closure in 1975 by the global fuel crisis; it reopened for two seasons in the early '90s, then again in 1997, after which it was in constant use until redevelopment began.
By the mid-2000s it was badly in need of renovation, with a sketchy track surface and ageing facilities. Bizzy - who had left the world of motorsport for a number of years to pursue other interests - returned to play another important part in the track's development. In 2005, he invited Apex Circuit Design to the finale of the Bajan saloon car championship at Bushy Park - an event which attracted 15,000 spectators, nearly 5% of the country's population. As a result of this visit, Apex were asked to review the circuit's options to upgrade the track to FIA Category 3 status.
All looked favourable - the next step was securing the necessary finances to make it happen. Perhaps surprisingly, the project was awarded a grant from the sport's world governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), who were keen to expand racing in the Caribbean. Supplemented by local funding, Apex was commissioned in 2010 to create the Master Plan on which the redevelopment was based; support from the Government of Barbados, the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), the FIA and a group of local investors turned that plan into a reality, with the Government compulsory-purchasing the land from its British owners.
The redevelopment of Bushy Park was designed around the construction of facilities that would gain certification to allow the staging of International events, with a 2.0 km FIA Grade 3 Circuit and commercially sustainable surrounding developments on the 65-acre site. Following three years of planning and consultation, work started in August 2013 phase one was completed in time for a worldwide launch at Top Gear Festival Barbados in May 2014. This saw the stars of the hit BBC series wowing crowds with a series of antics in exotic cars, while Lewis Hamilton lapped the new course in a Mercedes F1 car.
A second phase of development further enhanced the venue in time for Race Of Champions in December 2014 but this multi-purpose facility is about much more than staging world-class events. In addition to its 2.01-kilometre International Circuit, built to meet FIA Grade 3 requirements, there is a Rallycross Track, CIK Grade A Kart Circuit and a one-eighth-of-a-mile Drag Strip.
The developer and operator, Bushy Park Circuit Inc, has placed great emphasis on facilities for its customers: there is a new Clubhouse and VIP facility, 'The Hill' - the venue's traditional spectator area - has been completely re-profiled and two blocks of washrooms have been completed.
Future phases of development will include the construction of a Country Club & Museum, along with a number of Luxury Car Suites, the first of which was completed in late 2014.
One serious blot on the horizon has however developed during 2016, with a breakdown in relations between Bushy Park Circuit Inc's chairman Mark Maloney and local authorities. Maloney, a property developer, is in dispute with town planners over a number of his developments elsewhere and the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development has threatened to terminate its lease to the Barbados Motoring Federation.
According to local reports, the ministry has taken issue with what it termed the illegal building of a perimeter fence, a ticket booth and a mechanical workshop at the circuit. It has described the building of the structures as "wilful and deliberate" and has gave the parties a deadline of June 30 to remove them. The ministry said if there's no compliance by September 15, a notice terminating the licence for using the racing circuit will be served on all parties. It remains to be seen how the standoff will be resolved.
Bushy Park is situated in the south-eastern parish of St Philip in Barbados. It is within a 10-minute drive of the island's Grantley Adams International Airport, along access roads that were significantly upgraded along with the venue's redevelopment in 2014, while hotels on the south coast and in the capital, Bridgetown, are around 20 minutes away, depending on traffic.
The facility sits on a 65-acre parcel of land, on which all the components of a world-class multi-purpose motor racing venue have been installed. There is ample accommodation for up to 120 competitors in the Pits Complex and Paddock, with both covered and open working areas.
While General Admission parking is in the south, a system of environmentally-friendly electric shuttle buses conveys patrons up to the spectator areas in the north, to reduce the strain of an uphill struggle with coolers, chairs and umbrellas. Clubhouse, VIP and Accessible parking is to the north.
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