That was the cry from some jubilant Sol Rally Barbados fans on Saturday at stage two in Pickering, St Lucy, as they welcomed the return of the island’s international motor racing affair.
The event passed through St Lucy, St John and St Joseph on the second weekend that locals were no longer mandated to wear COVID-19 masks in public, and was a full comeback since the brakes were put on it for two years due to the pandemic.
People from home and abroad, some on their first time out to rally racing, sat in the back of trucks under giant umbrellas strapped on to their vehicles, others on folding chairs sheltering with hand-held umbrellas, and more congregated in groups under large tents.
They were all taking shelter from the sweltering sun that was perfect for good grip on the track.
During a lull of activity at the 6.8-kilometre stage at Pickering while the action unfolded at stage one in Kendal, St John and the final stretch at Dark Hole, St Joseph, the rally fans in St Lucy kept the atmosphere festive with pulsating music, dancing, slamming of dominoes and the pleasant aroma of barbecued food.
For Cherise Rock last Saturday marked her tenth year of actively following rally racing.
“For me after being home for two years, because I didn’t get to go to the little rally they had last year, I’m happy to be out now. It is my first time back out,” she said while indicating she was hoping for a chequered flag finish from one of her favourites – Jamaican Jeffrey Panton, Frank Bird from the United Kingdom or Barbadian Dane Skeete.
During the break of the Pickering, St Lucy stage of the rally some fans became serious about a game of dominoes. (Picture by Stacey N. Russell)
Fabian Roach from St Lucy said the return of Sol Rally Barbados to the north was good for business.
“With the whole COVID pandemic we were not able to come out and enjoy rally last year, but fortunately we were able to come out this year, we’re having a good time…I guess some of the shopkeepers will come out and have a little time with the cars passing through,” he said.
Paul Connell from St Thomas, who was with a group of friends, said: “Whoever wins the rally we would like it to be a Bajan. But the persons that come to the rally, we consider them as Bajans too because most of the runners have been coming here for a long time and we think they’re Bajans. So, whether they win or a Bajan wins, it doesn’t matter to us. We have a good time and we enjoy the rally.”
“It is nice. I’m enjoying the experience…I just like to see the different cars and enjoying having fun with friends,” said Zoya Alleyne, a first-timer at Sol Barbados Rally, who has decided that she will definitely be attending future rally events.
Former rally driver Willie Hinds turning meat on the grill while “rally wife” Angelique Edwards, the partner of Barbadian rally driver Derek Edwards, chats with him under their “rally party” tent. (Picture by Stacey N. Russell)
Former local rally driver Willie Hinds, since applying his last deep brake on the high-speed tacks in 2010, has turned to being master chef with a grill at rally events.
“Over the years this is what it’s turned into – a complete rally party…Being out here, for me, is a passion. I love rallying. I love motor sport. I really and truly feel that if I wasn’t here I’d be lost,” he said as he surveyed groups of rally revellers under his tent in between turning pork and chicken on the grill. (SNR)