Motor racing ace Andrew King is a ‘Special Person’
Pull Quote: “It (1990-91 Suzuki Swift Series) was a Series that involved most of the top drivers of that period, and that I could be so dominant was testimony to my ability.”
By Rawle Welch
Even a horrific motor cycle accident could not derail the ambitions of a young and enthusiastic racing
lover by the name of Andrew King.
King’s insatiable passion for fast driving developed him into one of the most formidable opponents to compete against on a racing circuit and this hunger still lingers.
The local speedster, a successful businessman and someone who has contributed immensely to motor racing not only in this country, but within the Caribbean as well, is deserving of our ‘Special Person’ accolade.
Born on February 28, 1959, to George and Jean King, Andrew was introduced to the business side of things through his father, who took him to the family’s chicken farm at Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara, at an early age, and even in their absence he has managed to remain in the business unto this day, being among the biggest suppliers in the market.
In addition to the chicken business, King also dabbled in the mining industry even though his direct input these days has scaled down, while he has also been a major importer of food products.
Possessing a quiet and unassuming personality, the successful businessman and motor racer is a well liked individual who is always willing to share his expertise with anyone, and has been known to play an integral role in the careers of many young racers across the country.
“Basically as a youngster attending school I was interested in motor bikes, and like every young boy, I loved to ride fast on the road. However, that ambition was forcibly changed when I got into a terrible accident and the injury to my foot was so bad that I told myself I was never going to ride motor bikes competitively again,” King reflected.
He said he decided after recovering from the injury to get involved in racing cars since his love for motor sport had never diminished, and it was just a case of waiting for the foot to heal properly.
“I began my career driving my father’s Holden and gained a few third places behind drivers such as Gabriel DeFreitas and Bobby Hunter, and it was because of those results that Cyril Angoy Sr. encouraged me to stick with the sport,” King reminisced.
A former student of Sacred Heart Primary, before he went on to St. Stanislaus College, King excelled in most sports that he competed, and perhaps it is this natural athletic ability that he possesses that has manifested itself in his three children – Andrea, Kristina and Dana – who all went on to represent Guyana in various sports disciplines.
King’s genetic makeup coupled with that of his wife Alana, a former national Squash player must have had a lot to do with their children’s athletic prowess and outstanding achievements.
Andrew has grown into one of the fiercest competitors on both the local and regional circuits of motor racing and is highly respected by all.
He disclosed that it was his stunning battles with Cyril Angoy Jr., who at the time was one of the best drivers locally that earned him much respect among his peers and even forced Cyril Angoy Sr. to begin work on his car with the intention of taking it to the next level.
According to King, the early positive results which were achieved around 1974-75, signaled the beginning of a long and successful career that currently seems to have no end.
“My next car was a Longman Mini which I bought from the late Regan Rodrigues and with that I moved into the Group 2 and 3 categories, racing both here and Trinidad and Tobago. After that I raced a Parkspeed Mini and used that same car gaining much success with it, until racing went into a decline around 1981 due to the lack of sponsorship,” King asserted.
When racing restarted in 1985-86, King revealed that he used a Mini that Kevin Jeffrey had given him, and had to install racing parts from his old car to complete its set up to racing competency.
He pointed out that shortly after the resurrection of racing in Guyana he entered into a Suzuki Swift Series which was run in 1990-91, racing alongside the likes of Ray and Jad Rahaman, Keith Correia, Kayman Sankar and Paul Vieira, and totally dominated the races for the two years that it existed.
“It was a Series that involved most of the top drivers of that period, and that I could be so dominant was testimony to my ability,” King declared.
He said he then acquired a Mazda RX 3, but struggled with it for almost two years, before he began to win a few races.
“At that time, the battle was between myself and Ray (Rahaman) and it had brought some excitement and welcomed vigour to the sport. Eventually I began to beat him and the battle was now between me and the late Gavin Narine, who would go on to win the National Championships in 1999-2000.”
The soft-spoken speedster then finished runner-up to Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jr. in the Caribbean title race in 1998, adding that it was a good result in the circumstances.
Speaking about the support of his parents, King said that even at the beginning of his career his father was extremely helpful and that continued with his wife as well.
“She worked at the motor racing club at the time and was always very supportive, expressing words of encouragement to me throughout my career, even when things did not go right.”
Commenting on the sacrifices he made to compete in the sport, King recalled the days when he would take out almost every part from his road car to fit up his racing car and that forced him to be without his usual car for up to three months sometimes.
He beamed about the time when his father was going on a trip to China and his driver had just dropped him off at the Airport, but instead of returning home decided to go to the Circuit, and he (Andrew) took the car from the driver added a few extra pounds of air in the tyres, took off the hub caps, and competed in the day’s racing.
Such was his love for motorsport which he recognized as being chiefly responsible for who he has become today.
With regards to sponsorship, King indicated that the support he gets now is miniscule in comparison with what he spent in the early days when it was more a case of self-sacrifice and very little assistance from the corporate community.
The little giant in local and regional motor racing disclosed that his ability to maintain a high level of consistency is due primarily to a team of mechanics who have stood with him from the inception.
He mentioned Robbie Roberts, Moses Mangru, Doodnauth Appanah, Mark Singh and the original Hessie Ramkissoon, as those individuals.
DIFFERENCE IN ERA
Asked to distinguish the difference between racing in the ‘70s and ‘80s and the present period, King said that the current crop of competitors is more up to speed with technology when compared with the time he started.
“We were more prepared to compete with sub-standard equipment than the guys now.
The guys now are equipped with better cars and are spending huge sums of money to improve their reliability. In our time, we fitted our cars with plenty of sub-standard and makeshift parts, but this is not the case now.”
King noted that over the years, being engaged in the sport has given him lots of friends and business connections and if he had to he would do it all over again.
“Over the years I’ve established a lot of excellent friendships in all the countries that I’ve competed – Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Canada and Barbados, and those alliances have helped me tremendously both in terms of my business and career,” King revealed.
A multiple-time local champion, the easy-going speedster is nowhere near the end of his career, so those who have not yet been privileged to see the racing juggernaut in action still have many more opportunities to do so this year, especially with the packed calendar that the Guyana Motor Racing & Sports Club has put together.