kirby_portrait_2 There are some persons who are born into money, others are born into royalty, some may even be born into greatness; Jamal Brathwaite was born into motorsports.

kirby_autocrossHis dad Trevor Mapp was a driver so he was always interested in the sport and had the right guidance to be involved in it.  At age 12 Jamal was navigating in the Rally Club’s navigational rallies and as he progressed he was determined to make it into the driver seat. At 16 he had his first competition drive in the June Tulip navigational rally in 1996 in dad’s Mitsubishi Lancer EX2000 Turbo. He then took his driving to the BRC Autocross events in his beloved Mitsubishi Colt, ‘Susan’, beating out experienced rally driver Derek Roach. By the time he won the Novice Class Navigator Championship in ’04 and Novice Class Driver in ’05, he was already well into competing on stage events in the navigator seat.  He started out with Trevor Whitehall in the Frutee Fiat Punto where he spent 2 years between 1996-97 taking pointers on driving. He then did Rally Barbados 2003 with Graeme Finlayson in the Fluke WR1C where he learnt a lot about driving clean lines. Admittedly a ‘Micey’ Manning fan from birth and a fan of the driving and workmanship of the Corbin Clan along with his navigational skills peaking, he had developed the desire to be pushing the pedals and turning the wheel in his own right and endeavored to show his own driving and workmanship skills.

kirby_dxWith this, he bought a Toyota KE70, ‘Dionne’, locally to be powered by a 4AGE sourced in Trinidad. It was through this that Chicken Pen Racing was born. Meeting Kyle Catwell through Daryl Clarke, they cleaned out the 30x100ft chicken pen given to them by Norman Catwell to make a rally preparation area. Here Jamal asserted that without Kyle and Norman he would have given up on his pursuit to rally his own car. They stuck to the task and along the way he learnt much more on engine building and suspension than he would have if he had bought a fully prepped car. During his build he also teamed up with Shareef Walcott on the road stages as Walcott was rallying a car quite similar to what he was building. He received a firm flogging in the MCBI’s Rally of the Sun & Stars, and even found a fence, but once he got into the KE70 and the car was fully sorted he was consistently second to the even more consistent Edward Corbin. However, with the confidence not totally there in the RWD car, the DX was sold to Wayne Archer.

kirby_airFrom here the reincarnation of FWD Susan occurred, and Jamal was ready to live a dream when the Colt Rally car was developed. The car was a 1500 carbureted car and was rallied at first in very standard trim. Over time the car was developed as more parts were acquired and the CPR team ensured the car maintained its reliable status even when the engine was upgraded to the 1600 MIVEC variant with a close ratio gear box. The yardstick for this car was Edward Corbin once again and Jamal’s aim was to drive the car until he could go no faster in M6. So determined was he to go faster that he replaced his sister Talia with Dario Hoyte in the navigator seat so he could drive at 100% without worrying about his sister being onboard. In the process Jamal became a sponsor’s dream as he would compete in BARL, BADD, MCBI and BRC events; if there was an event on the sea it was probable that he would have entered that too! An added feather in his cap was getting the better of Josh Read in the Subaru Rally Sprint of the Historic Rally Carnival in 2010 to win group S9.

kirby_engine_liftWhen questioned about the cost of rallying, Jamal reflected on hearing when he was younger that motorsport was for the 'white man' and for the 'rich man.' While admitting there are inherent costs that one must consider he was quick to add "rallying is as expensive as one makes it; one year I drove the entire season on old tires belonging to Kyle." From speaking candidly with Jamal, it is easy to gather rallying takes hard work and perseverance and that it is all about one's approach and application to their task that determines what they would get out of their effort. Of course, he would hasten to add that the input of sponsors goes a long way in building and maintaining a successful race car. Jamal's consistent performance has won him the endorsement and support of many brands and businesses including AM Electrical Solutions/ FG Wilson Generators; Meridian Windows & Doors; Carib Beer; Auto Plus Motors; Khumo Tires & Valvoline Lubricants; D2 Suspension and Ellsmere Quarries .

jamal_brath_portraitNow 31 years old, a qualified Civil Engineer, Project Manager at Spring Homes and the proud dad of daughter Hailey, Jamal rightfully feels accomplished. For 2011 he won group M6 overall for the BRC Championship and for Sol Rally Barbados, and was crowned the Champion Driver for the Motoring Club of Barbados Inc. The plan now is to not only win next year on reliability and fortune but also by sheer pace. It's only when the fun runs out that he will call it quits and if he called it quits today he can easily say he had a damn good time.