Bahamas Speed Week Lauds Antique Auto Club

Tuesday 21st, August 2012 / 09:11 Published by

Murray Forde

Fifty years ago, in the early 1960s, Murray Forde was young, single, and wide-eyed when the world’s fastest cars took to a track close to the Oakes Field bachelor pad where he lived. He walked to the action of Nassau Speed Week, heard the roar of racing engines, was dazzled by the beauty of the sleek machines. Awestruck, the 22-year-old was hooked for life.

A half century later in 2011, now a father, grandfather, respected banker, Rotarian, antique car buff and serious collector, Forde was back at the track when Bahamas Speed Week Revival burst onto the scene after a 46-year hiatus. This time, he was wearing the bright orange uniform of a marshal, handling radio contact with other marshals, keeping the track, drivers and spectators safe.

Murray Forde is one of more than 50 members of the Antique Auto Club who helped make Bahamas Speed Week Revival a reality last year. This year, as event organizers unveiled the plans for Bahamas Speed Week 2012, they paid special tribute to the club that has served as its right arm.

“Bahamas Speed Week Revival might have just continued to be a dream of a few of us if it had not been for the constant support, the hundreds of volunteer man hours, the responsibilities that the Antique Auto Club of The Bahamas took on,” said Jimmie Lowe, Speed Week President and member of the Antique Auto Club. “It’s one thing to sit around the table and dream of a revival of one of the greatest events that ever lived in the social and sports calendar of The Bahamas and another to make that dream a reality. We were very fortunate to have the organizational skills of a professional like David McLaughlin who has given two years of his life to this and the unwavering support of the members of the Antique Auto Club. We cannot thank them enough.”

Sir Stirling Moss readies for Speed Week event at Speed Week Revival 2011 with pit crew members looking on.

Begun as a fund-raiser for the Kiwanis Club of Cable Beach, the Antique Auto Club recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a display of vintage cars in Rawson Square, an exhibit that drew constant whistles of admiration. Several club members participated in Speed Week, either in time trials or entering vintage or classic race car in the show car category. And at Speed Week last year with celebrities like racing legend Sir Stirling Moss and business icon Rob Walton (Wal-mart), it was locals like Don Aranha in his mirror bright red and white 1961 corvette who drew the greatest crowd applause, the shouts and cheers.

“That car was in shambles when I found it,” said Aranha. That was in 1979. He rebuilt it and has lavished loving care on it ever since. He has reason to be proud — he recently turned down an offer of $110,000 for the 51-year-old beauty.

Brendan Foulkes, who wears two caps, one as Antique Auto Club president, the other as communications director for Speed Week, said the two go hand-in-hand.

“Vintage cars, race cars, classics of Speed Week and the Antique Auto Club — it’s a natural combination,” said Foulkes. “But beyond the cars, there is the importance of Speed Week as an activity —   it stimulates the economy, attracts visitors, increases visitor satisfaction, offers locals a rare type of family recreation and boosts business and opportunities for vendors at Arawak Cay and other sites. We could not pull it off, though without the hundreds of man hours contributed by the Antique Auto Club.”

Speed Week 2012 runs from November 24-December 2, kicking off with a concert on opening night, followed by a Miss Speed Week pageant, two days free for participants to explore Family Islands or enjoy New Providence, an island tour of the cars, time trials and social events. Karting, which was popular last year, is being expanded.

By Diane Phillips & Associates

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