Fraser McConnell is aiming to create the biggest motorsport series in his homeland of Jamaica by starting up his own version of one of Europe’s most beloved racing disciplines.
DirtFish-backed McConnell was first exposed to Folkracing during his first season racing in RX2 in Europe. While competing in the World Rallycross Championship-supporting development category, McConnell wondered: “if this is rallycross, where did it come from?”
From there, he was introduced to the Scandinavian grassroots racing format by the Eriksson family, royalty in rallycross circles.
“We were just hooked immediately and loved the concept and the whole idea of it was mind blowing to me how cheap and accessible it is,” McConnell told DirtFish.
“For everyone to be a part of motorsport without having to make too much of a financial commitment to me was what Jamaica needed, that was the key ingredient to make Jamaican motorsports come back again to what it used to be.
“Because when I hear stories growing up, I mean, they had go-kart grids of 60 go-karts, you go up to Dover [Raceway], our race track, and there’d be a hundred cars – those are like myths to me, I’ve never seen anything close to that down here.”
Fast forward to 2020 and with the motorsport world at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McConnell set about getting his own version of Folkracing, dubbed Yaad Man Racing, off the ground in the Caribbean.
“Being able to have the quarantine, the corona lockdown I just got really bored one day, I was tired of staying at home and I thought ‘okay, what can I do with my time?’ and I just took the bulldozer out, did some cutting, put the grader out, did some nice smoothing and then now we have the track.
“We have five cars built now from myself and Ishmael Moodie, my coach, and there’s about three other people that have started their builds.
Everything is averaged to 350,000 Jamaican Dollars and so that’s what we’ve set the claiming value at. That stops someone spending double that to make their car way better than everyone elseFraser McConnell
“We actually help them put their roll cage in – we’ve got a pipe-bending machine so we’re going to help people put those in and just keep costs down for everyone.”
Keeping those costs low will be a key element of Yaad Man Racing. Like Folkracing in Scandinavia, each car will be placed into a lottery to be claimed.
As such, costs will be limited to 350,000 Jamaican Dollars (almost $2,400) to discourage people spending to be competitive – you overspend, you’ll lose that investment when you’re forced to sell your car. If you refuse to sell, you’ll be banned from the series. It’s all to keep costs down, but the racing close, fair, and competitive too.
“Everything is averaged to 350,000 Jamaican Dollars and so that’s what we’ve set the claiming value at. That stops someone spending double that to make their car way better than everyone else because they know that they’re going to lose the money they invested in the car when they sell it for the 350,000,” McConnell said.
“That is the key component in my eyes, and it does keep the playing field level with all the cars.”
Things like turbochargers, limited-slip differentials and four-wheel-drive will be off the table too, while front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive race in the same category.
The move to make a grassroots rallycross series based on Folkracing is a world away from the FIA’s global plan for grassroots rallycross, which centers around the also proven CrossKart idea. But despite the buggy-like category being cheaper than a 600 bhp Supercar, it still requires a sizeable investment of time and money.
“That’s the way I see it, just make it the most accessible and affordable racing that you can possibly do,” McConnell said. “A lot of people can’t afford a crosskart and it does take a lot of maintenance and upkeep. The beauty that I saw with Folkracing and Yaad Man Racing here is the claiming system [is] the reason why the cost doesn’t skyrocket as time goes on, the cost stays pretty level and the playing field of cars stays pretty level because of the claiming system.”
McConnell expects Yaad Man Racing to attract a wide range of people from all across Jamaica, a motorsport-loving nation that hasn’t had a single racing event take place since the pandemic, unlike other countries where motorsport has been allowed to restart, albeit under strict new measures.
“There hasn’t been a single motorsport event in Jamaica since COVID and people are just itching to get out and do something,” he said. “The motorsport culture in Jamaica is very strong – every taxi driver thinks they’re a world champion, a lot of people have cars put down in their house that are raring to go and there’s going to be Jamaica’s top drivers, Jamaica’s legends lining up besides the youngest go-karter, versus the Route Taxi from Kingston to Portmore so it’s going to be pretty awesome.”
And for those that don’t think they’re a world champ just yet, McConnell – whose impressive resume includes an ARX2 championship as well as top-five runs in RX2 and RallyX Nordic – will be offering coaching to get them up to speed.
“I built a couple of cars that are a little bit better than the Yaad Man Folkracing spec to do some driver training if they want to come and get few tips from me and Ishmael before the race, they can come out and just rent the car for a couple of hours and I’ll give them all my secrets so a kind of a mini DirtFish in a sense.”
McConnell has high hopes for Yaad Man Racing once it finally gets going and thinks it can even eventually outdo drag racing as Jamaica’s most popular motorsport.
“I think it’s going to be the biggest motorsport in Jamaica today,” he said. “Drag racing did come a long way before COVID destroyed everything but drag racing was getting 50-60 car turnouts and huge crowds and when all these COVID regulations pass, I don’t see why there can’t be 100 cars by the end of the year.”