8 December 2010
By Cheryl Tay (my first byline in MY PAPER!!)
SINGAPORE’S interest in motorsports has surged over the last few years after fizzling out in 1973, when the last Singapore Grand Prix was held. Here are four of the movers and shakers in the local motorsports scene…
Litigation lawyer Jude Benny is the man behind Kartright Speedway, the only public go-karting facility in Singapore. It is suitable for competitive events, and hosted the Singapore Karting Championship national series this year. The $2-million kart-racing track at the Arena Country Club in Jurong was completed in just five months. Equipped with night-karting facilities, the track provides a platform for newcomers to try their hand at karting, as well as a place for racing enthusiasts to meet. Mr Benny, 53, says: “The future of karting is in the hands of today’s young drivers, and realising my dream of a permanent kart-racing track is the best gift that we veterans can give to the next generation.”
Mr Marcus Lim, the 31-year-old general manager of tyre-distribution company Binter & Co, was studying and working in the United States when he discovered drifting through the professional Formula Drift USA series. Awed by the displays, he returned home in 2006 determined to bring Formula Drift to Asia. “Drifting was active at the grassroots level, but there was nothing professional,” says Mr Lim. “It appeals to the masses as it’s easy to appreciate the sport visually, even without an understanding of its complexities.” He made a cold call to the office of the Formula Drift USA organisers in October 2007, and earned its nod of approval. He then purchased the rights to host the series in Asia and invested $850,000 to start Formula Drift Singapore in April 2008. He even started a drift team with local driver Ivan Lim. Since then, Formula Drift Asia has spread to Malaysia and Thailand, and there are plans to expand to Indonesia and China.
The 63-year-old deputy chairman of Singapore GP recalls his great disappointment when the Government rejected a proposal in 1989 for a permanent circuit to host the Formula One race in Singapore. But his dream finally came true in 2008, when Singapore hosted the first F1 night race. “Words cannot describe the emotions I felt when I stood in the pits and heard the F1 engines roar to life,” says Mr Syn. “The F1 has sparked off the move for a permanent circuit at Changi,” he adds.
Lawrence Lee It takes more than luck to finish consistently on the winners’ podium at South-east Asia”s premier endurance competition: the 12-hour Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race. Mr Lawrence Lee is the 31-year-old team principal of HKS Garage R Racing, which have participated in the race four times, each time making it to the podium without fail. They even finished top last year. He said: “Our consistent performance has proved that Singapore is not only capable of producing local driving talent, but also possesses the expertise and skills to build a reliable high-performance car. “We have the prowess needed to run a successful race team.” Besides competing in motorsports, Garage R have also sponsored other drivers and teams.
*This was first published in my paper and Asiaone.com. The online version can be found here.