Kenneth Timoll reviving drag racing in Western Jamaica

From drag racer to drag meet organiser, Kenneth Timoll has kept the sport going after the closure of Vernamfield, Clarendon in 2018, at JamWest Speedway, Westmoreland, with his Drag Rivals series.

In August 2018 iconic Jamaican drag strip, Vernamfield in Clarendon, held its last race meet to date, ending several decades of motorsport activity at the location. However, since April of that year then driver Kenneth Timoll had already hatched a plan to stop the disappearance of legal quarter-mile action from local shores.

“I own two fully drag racing prepared Honda Civics built in 2015. After the closure of Vernamfield in Clarendon, I needed a place to race. So I made a business proposal to the owners of JamWest Speedway to revive the 20-year-old drag strip,” Timoll explained.

“Having turned into an event organiser I’ve found it about 10 times more rewarding than I had hoped for.”

— Kenneth Timoll

While JamWest Speedway attempted to brand itself as a motorsports park, many in the fraternity complained about its distance from Kingston, relegating participants and crowds to those on the western side of the island. Eastern-based big names from both circuit and drag racing would often opt out of appearing at the Westmoreland located facility.

Full throttle

Previous complaints about the distance of JamWest Speedway have been shattered by triple-digit competitor turnouts at Drag Rivals.

Timoll took a step from behind the wheel and went full throttle for what is now arguably the biggest motorsports series on the island, Drag Rivals.

“Having turned into an event organiser I’ve found it about 10 times more rewarding than I had hoped for,” he said. “I went into this thinking about just getting back on track and racing my car. Yet after two years, I’ve not been behind the wheel more than once. But I certainly get an overwhelming comfort seeing and receiving the positive feedback from winners and supporters of the events knowing my passion kept the sport alive.”

Drag racing has been alive at JamWest Speedway, with triple-digit competitor turnouts and even bigger audience numbers for each instalment of Drag Rivals. For its third year in existence, Timoll said Drag Rivals posted its best event yet on January 26.

“We get the full support of racers island-wide, as a result of the reputation of the event in terms of track preparation and the ability test all day Saturday. Racers do get value for each dollar they spend to get to JamWest,” he said.

International drivers

Timoll prides himself on his total hands-on nature at his events.

Timoll’s ultimate aim is to take Drag Rivals region-wide. “My vision is to grow a Caribbean competition series,” he said.

He’s already begun courting racers from other countries.

“We’ve even had racers from the USA, Antigua and Cayman visit to watch the events, but we are unable to secure any assistance or sponsors in offsetting the costs of bringing their cars to Jamaica.”

Until that eventually happens Timoll and his small but focused team of 17 plan to continue making Drag Rivals the number one game in town.

“My philosophy is to build a great show with great competition and spectator turnout will increase as a by-product, and so far I’ve seen the growing results,” he said.