The Bahamas Speed Weeks

Terry O’Neill

The perception was perhaps frivolous, the intent anything but. This was a race meeting in sunny climes, beyond the end of the mainstream seasons in Europe and North America, but it attracted some stellar names. Take the Governor’s Trophy heat on December 6, 1957, for instance: Phil Hill won in his Maserati 335S, from Masten Gregory (Maserati 450S), Carroll Shelby (450S) and Stirling Moss (Aston Martin DBR2). Richie Ginther and Jo Bonnier were among those in their slipstream.

The first meeting was staged in 1954 and things remained buoyant until 1966, when safety fears intervened. Venezuelan driver Rodrigo Borjes Zingg rolled his Ferrari P2, which ignited, and the attendant fire engine got stuck beneath a bridge en route to the scene. When it finally arrived, it transpired that its main hose was faulty.

The unfortunate Zingg managed to scramble clear in the interim, but was badly burnt and later succumbed to his injuries. Thereafter, the sport staggered on in the Bahamas – on a reduced scale – but only until 1972. Racing then returned briefly, in a low-key manner, during the 1980s.

Author O’Neill had previously produced a comprehensive, beautifully illustrated account of the event’s history – and this has now been updated to include some of the recent Speed Week Revivals, which commenced in 2011.

It’s a fascinating compendium of past and present, with a price that reflects its girth. SA

Published by Dalton Watson ISBN 978 1 85443 268 1, £96.00