The First Ever
The sport of Karting was born in the early 1950’s in California and spread quickly around the world, with the pioneers of the sport building basic tube frame chassis and attaching either two-stroke direct drive or four stroke gearbox engines to them.
During this period the Nassau Speed Week was the biggest motor racing festival in the world. Wanting to promote karting to the biggest motoring audience they could, the Grand Prix Kart Club International and the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain chose the 1959 Nassau Speed Weeks and the Oakes Field circuit to host the first ever World Karting Championships.
Many of the biggest names in racing chose to enter the 100 lap race, including Sir Stirling Moss, Pedro Rodriguez and Dan Gurney.
The Story of the Nassau Panel
With so many popular drivers, and thousands of spectators wanting to see these superstars in action, the organisers hastily demanded that each kart be fitted with a front mounted panel with the drivers race number clearly displayed on it so the spectators knew who they were cheering for.
This became known as the Nassau Panel and from that day to the present, every kart that is manufactured anywhere in the world has a Nassau Panel.
American driver Jim Yamine became the first World Karting Champion and such was the success of the event that the second World Karting Championship was also held during the Nassau Speed Weeks in December 1960.
World Karting Championship
At the second World Karting Championship, more than 100 drivers entered the event, which was won by British driver Bobby Allen.
After the event a new governing body for kart racing was formed, the CIK, and sadly the World Championship moved away to Europe where the sport was gaining popularity at a fast rate. The World Championship has never yet returned to The Bahamas.
Despite this, karting remained a popular attraction in Nassau for the remaining years of Speed Weeks, but when they ended in 1966, and with no permanent kart track on New Providence, the sport struggled to attract events although it remained popular with those who had bought karts during the Speed Weeks era.
What Happened Next?
For several decades there was no kart racing at all in The Bahamas, but in 2012 the organisers of The Bahamas Speed Week Revival meeting brought a group of gearbox kart racers from Florida, a group of young Cadet karters and the British Historic Kart Club from the United Kingdom to Nassau.
The karters staged some demonstration races at Arawak Cay and at the Thomas A Robinson stadium, which is built on parts of the original Oakes Field circuit.
These demonstrations proved hugely popular and in 2013, EduKarting Bahamas was formed and brought a fleet of karts to New Providence to deliver Summer Camp schools teaching life skills alongside kart racing.