The Jamaica Simulation Racing Association (JSRA) officially opened the doors to its new headquarters at Shop 19, Dunrobin Plaza, Kingston on February 4.
“This has been a long time coming. We took a look at what the JSRA was created to do and felt this was the best way forward,” Stephen Stewart, president of the JSRA told Our Today.
Started in December of 2021, the JSRA had been offering weekly simulation racing lessons out of the head office of the Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI) on the campus of University of Technology, St Andrew.
“When the JEI engaged the JSRA to help raise the level of sim racing in Jamaica to provide competitors for international events, they offered their own location and equipment. Something we appreciated, but it was ultimately their space and we couldn’t impose on it indefinitely,” said Stewart.
Then came the 2022 Monaco Sim Racing World Cup.
“Basically, the JEI asked us to not only prepare drivers to participate in this event, but put on a national qualifier event that could be broadcast. The JSRA was successful in doing this given the short time we had, and our own relatively young history.”
Stewart added that the Sim Racing World Cup changed several factors.
“Our participation put international eyes on Jamaican sim racing. Since then multiple overseas sim racing entities have reached out to the JSRA as they were not aware that Jamaica had a presence in the sim racing space. This interest, coupled with the mandate as given to us by the JEI, made us go back the drawing board as how the JSRA needed to be.”
That meant the JSRA’s own location to train sim racers and host sim racing events. The new site offers a larger space, five sim racing booths, and increased access time. Stewart says he hopes to add more booths as the JSRA seeks corporate partnerships and support.
“We are not an arcade. We are not free. We have several packages for those interested and for them we provide use of the equipment, practical and theory training, support for overseas events, plus participation in any JSRA event.”
The JSRA also maintains servers on which racers can connect, locally and internationally, to practise or race.
Stewart first showed off the new facilities on January 14 for the Caribbean versus Colombia national qualifying race. He explained the genesis of the event came after the Sim Racing World Cup, when Nitro Simracing Colombia, the top sim racing organisation in that country reached out to the JSRA. With the direction chosen to open a new physical location, Stewart felt it was the perfect opportunity to bring awareness to the JSRA’s plans.
The Caribbean versus Colombia national qualifying event saw fourteen drivers battle for the three spaces available to Jamaican competitors in the final, which was held on February 4 to mark the opening of the JSRA’s headquarters.
Drivers Kurt Moss, Michael Paisley and MarcAnthony Eaton were the top finishers and moved on. The final was live streamed on the SportsMax App and JSRA social media. It saw 12 drivers, three each from Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana race against three from Colombia.
“I have to thank everyone involved. When Nitro Simracing Colombia proposed a collaboration, I spoke to several of the regional sim racing entities and asked them come in with us as show of unity. Everyone enjoyed the event, despite a few hiccups. The racing was amazing, Jamaica was competitive and they got to see what the wider international competitors are like. The exposure works both ways.”
Victory was based on the amount of points each country could amass with the finishing positions of their drivers. The Caribbean versus Colombia final consisted of two forty-five minute races, of which the second one was a reverse grid. Colombia were the winners, gaining 78 points led by their top driver Estefano Barrera. Trinidad & Tobago finished second on a strong performance from Dominic Charles. Jamaica was third with Kurt Moss the highest points scoring Jamaican driver. Guyana followed in fourth.
“The JSRA will have a bigger presence in 2023 as we have a host of sim racing events in various genres throughout the year. However, the main goal is to have a driver ready for the International Esports Federation World Sports Championships near the end of summer in Romania.”