The biggest myth in motor car racing is that only privileged people get involved in the sport, says Natasha Chang.
One of Jamaica’s top drivers, ‘Chiney Dolly’ as she is known on the track, stated that the sport is open to all who have a passion for driving. However, the ATL Motors' Marketing and Promotions Coordinator added that the appropriate place to learn to race is under professional guidance, and not on the country’s roadways.
“The most common question I get is whether racing is a sport for the privileged,” she said. “I want to refute that idea. People from all walks of life compete at Dover.”
Along with motorcycle racing and participation from modified street bikes, she pointed out that there are races such as the dexterity trials, where street cars can participate.
“One guy raced his VW Bug for several years,” recalled Miss Chang, who is also the JN General Insurance (JNGI) Brand Ambassador. “It was his regular street car.”
And, she did not get into racing as a privileged child, but at age 17 which is considered late in the spott, through her sheer determination. “I do not come from a family of drivers,” she explained. “I got started in go karts on my own.”
The people who get involved in race car driving do it as a hobby, just like those who enjoy fishing or photography. “Nobody makes a living from it in Jamaica. You do it because you love it.”
She pointed out that race car driving is quite different from regular road driving, which is why so many untrained drivers get into difficulties when they drive fast. Miss Chang explained that, the braking is different and more aggressive; the handling of the steering wheel is different, and the understanding of the relationship between steering and the use of the gas pedal takes on a new dimension.
“You need to understand the limits of your car, the track, your tyres and yourself,” she declared. The champion driver added that, "Just as with other hobbies, becoming a competent track driver takes time, effort and good guidance."
“The Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) offers a specialised course, and younger drivers can even receive an insurance discount to cover the cost for lessons,” the JNGI Brand Ambassador stated. “Orientation classes are also provided at Dover to help participants understand the reflexes and physics that will improve their everyday driving.”
The one place where you should not be practicing these skills is on regular roadways. “Your personal safety is important; but, you are also putting other road users, and particularly innocent pedestrians at risk. I would not want to have that on my conscience.”
The speed queen advised that more Jamaicans should explore their passion for driving, as the sport is enjoyable, offers great comradeship and has direct benefits in everyday life. However, she cautioned, “Feed your speed needs on the track.”