Fraser McConnell’s landmark season in 2021 has earned him plenty of plaudits – not just in motorsport circles, but back home in Jamaica too.
After winning his first top-level rallycross race in the RallyX Nordic season opener at Nysum in Denmark, McConnell was nominated for the RJRGleaner People’s Choice Performance of the Year Award, an award that is decided by an online fan vote.
What’s more, after following that up with second overall in the Nordic championship and making the top five twice in Nitro Rallycross finals, McConnell has also been nominated for the RJRGleaner National Sportsman Award, previously won by Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Omar McLeod among others.
“It’s incredible,” McConnell told DirtFish of the nomination. “To even be thought about, to be nominated in the same lines as those guys.
“The big one is the male athlete of the year, that’s super cool. Usain Bolt won that in his day, all the main athletes during their Olympic prime will have gotten that one, so hopefully the judges put it in my favor.”
But as well as being recognized in the same breath as other legendary Jamaican sportsmen, McConnell’s nomination is also a big win for motorsport in Jamaica – a country that’s produced countless successful athletes, but perhaps isn’t many’s first thought when it comes to motorsport.
“It’s awesome to see them giving the prestige that rallycross deserves,” McConnell said. “I guess they’re loving what I’m doing, representing Jamaica, showing how elite the sport is, and we’re at the top of the game now with rallycross and it’s clear that a lot of people are recognizing that and it’s super cool.
“It’s normally dominated with track stars, track and field athletes because that’s our bread and butter down here, but the motorsport culture is super strong down here, but the prestige that Nitro has brought is really making it legit.”
McConnell has been a figurehead for that bustling motorsport community throughout his rise up the rallycross ranks.
“People are seeing the Jamaica flag and going ‘oh, that’s Frazz’,” he added.
“Most of the guys that came up to watch in Florida are racers themselves. They’re some of the biggest fans that I have and we race against each other when I’m here and they’ll be messaging me throughout the weekends and wishing me the best.
“It’s good because it’s good for the sport down here as well – it sounds weird for me to say, but they say it’s a pleasure for them to be racing me, when they’ve seen how far I’m going with this. So that’s really cool and humbling.”
Success in the RJRGleaner awards will bring great national recognition for McConnell, but it will also provide him with an excellent platform to continue his rise next year as well.
“If it does come through, it would be huge to show Jamaican sponsors my value and they’ll be seeing it firsthand,” he said. “But for any international sponsors, I’d be able to show them the caliber of what I’m doing and how much value I can bring to their brands.
A priceless experience and I can’t wait to see how it pays off next year. It started off with a bang, I knew it was going to be the toughest field in rallycross that I’d ever been a part of. And it wasFraser McConnell
“It’d be a huge step, a huge milestone for Team Frazz.”
McConnell also reflected on his globe-trotting year at rallycross’s top level.
“A priceless experience and I can’t wait to see how it pays off next year. It started off with a bang, I knew it was going to be the toughest field in rallycross that I’d ever been a part of. And it was.
“I started off with a strong finish in the [first Nitro RX] final with a fourth, then Minnesota was a fifth even with some issues there in the final. Then after that the results never really represented the performance that we had throughout the weekend.
“A lot of things didn’t go our way, two or three times we had a stewards decision ruin the weekend, and more times than stewards’ decisions we had mechanical failures so it was frustrating as a driver and it’s obviously just as frustrating as a team.
“The mechanics work so hard, everybody works so hard getting the cars ready and making sure the package can be good. They gave me a good package, it was just one of those things that… one thing can ruin a weekend and that seemed to happen a bit too often.”
Nevertheless, it was a positive season overall, one that McConnell says will set him up nicely for 2022.
The RJRGleaner National Sportsman winner, decided by a panel of experts, will be crowned in a ceremony on January 21.
Meanwhile, you can vote for McConnell’s maiden RallyX Nordic victory as the RJRGleaner People’s Choice Performance of the Year Award right here.