In her dad’s tracks: Cai Townsend follows father into competitive driving

Cai Townsend with father and racer Oliver Townsend.

Nnineteen-year-old Cai Townsend made her motorsports debut between all the machismo and bravado at Asphalt Assault: The Final Assault on December 15 at the Catherine Hall Stadium, in Montego Bay.

That singular act put her amongst the ranks of the few active female racers. Her appearance could also be best described as fate. Cai is the daughter of Oliver Townsend, a name that resonates on the long list of Motorsports icons on the Western end of the island. Townsend, CEO of Knutsford Express, has had a successful history in Rallysport — and most recently circuit racing.

“Neither of my parents was on-board at first, but they saw that I really wanted to do this so they supported me,” she explained.

Asphalt Assault dexterity series is an entry-level Rallysport event organized by Team Streetz Jamaica, and is designed to help drivers test their skills in a safe, but competitive environment, before potentially moving up the ladder to the higher forms of motorsport. Cai took to the course in the unlikeliest of cars, her daily driver Honda Fit Hybrid. But according to the organizers, it’s the ‘run-what-you-brung‘ format that makes dexterity events so entertaining and competitive.

Cai pushing her Honda Fit hybrid hard through the tricky dexterity course.

‘I’m just trying to get a little better, and get some experience.’

—Cai Townsend

Cai said her father was her inspiration.

“I’ve always seen him drive like that. I was always intrigued by it and just observing him I was always interested in doing it. Then I started driving and I found it really fun, so I’m just trying to get a little better, and get some experience,” she said. Part of that getting better was making the transition from regular road driving to motorsport with her first dexterity. By midday, she was happy with the progress being made as she came to terms on how best to navigate her Honda through the tricky course. “It felt really good from the start and to see that I grew with my car.”

Dad Oliver assisted all day, providing driving theory and practical knowledge as he shared the car with her. “I told her just drive, be calm, and do what comes naturally,” he said.

Cai made her motorsport debut at last dexterity event of the year Asphalt Assault: The Final Assault in her hometown of Montego Bay.

Cai said that this was just the start. “I’m taking it one step at a time. For now I’m doing this. Maybe I want to do rally or maybe circuit racing, but I’m not sure yet.” One thing’s for sure, Cai will continue contesting dexterities for now, joining the ranks of the few active female drivers.

— Article written by Nichola Beckford