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Bahamas Speed Week ‘hoping to break even’

Organizers of racing event see growing participation, international exposure
  • Bahamas Speed Week 2013 was officially announced by the Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture Dr. Danny Johnson; Jeff Rodgers, marketing manager at the Ministry of Tourism, and the competition’s executive team yesterday. Pictured from left are Brendan Foulkes, Bahamas Speed Week; Jeff Rodgers, Ministry of Tourism; Danny Johnson, Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture; Jimmie Lowe, Bahamas Speed Week and David McLaughlin, Bahamas Speed Week. DPA MEDIA

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Oct 22, 2013

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As organizers prepare to host another Bahamas Speed Week Revival in December, head of the event’s organizing committee said the event has yet to turn a profit.

Now in its third year, President of Bahamas Speed Week Revival Jimmie Lowe said the committee has been forced to operate on a really tight budget and at this point is just hoping to “break even” after this year’s event.

“This year, [unfortunately] we had to cut a lot of corners like everybody else is doing in the world.  So the biggest challenge this year has been for us to see if we can get it to a manageable level where we won’t lose a ton of money,” he revealed.

“We’re not talking about realizing a profit this year.  If we can break even this year and everything can be a wash, then we would happy.

“We have put an immense amount of money in it now that’s coming out of our own pockets.  We have not taken a salary in three years.  It’s about building the event.  We started with a five-year plan.  We knew it was going to be a struggle going in.”

Despite the financial losses that have been incurred, Lowe told Guardian Business the event has not only gained  momentum with the global motor racing community,  but has benefitted the local economy.

“This year, we plan to build on the continuity from the first two years.  Based on that exposure, we have been placed on the motor racing calendars worldwide from Europe to the United States,” he said.

“If we didn’t have the event this year, we would have to go back to the drawing board and start all over again to get in three years what we have this year.  So that’s why we are struggling and trying to make it work this year, to keep that connectivity to the racing programs all over the world, because it is on the event calendar now.

“Participation has grown every year.  The first year, I think we had five or six local participants.  Last year, we had about 10 or 11 and this year we are expected to have between 12 and 14.  Eventually, we want to bring back motor racing to The Bahamas.”

Since hosting the first Bahamas Speed Week Revival back in 2011, Lowe confirmed that more than $800,000 has been pumped into the local economy.  He estimates that another $400,000-$500,000 will be made this year.

In 2012, the event generated up to 1,000 room nights.  And this year, organizers believe it will generate up to 800 room nights.

Organizers provided these figures as they announced plans for Bahamas Speed Week Revival 2013 during a press conference at Pompey Square yesterday.

There will be a record number of local drivers and an award-winning and historic Ferrari highlighting this year’s event, one that fast tracks heritage and sports tourism.

This year’s field of entrants includes the largest number of local drivers.

The media coverage generated by the past two Speed Week Revivals has reportedly brought global recognition and exposure for the country, with stories appearing in several different types of publications.

“These are very exciting times for the Ministry of Tourism.  Our mandate is to make The Bahamas the number one destination for sports tourism in the world.  We know the impact that this event is going to have locally and internationally,” according to Jeff Rodgers, marketing director for sports tourism in the Ministry of Tourism.

Lowe also confirmed to Guardian Business plans to add a full racing component at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center to next year’s event.  That, he said, will change the entire dynamic.

“Now all of a sudden instead of having 30 or 40 cars, we have 70 or 80 cars.  Instead of bringing a couple with each car, now you’re bringing four, five and six people, mechanics, drivers and everyone else. S o the whole event expands over a two-weekend period,” he said.

Bahamas Speed Week Revival 2013 takes place December 4-8.

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