History of the Speed Week

During 1954 – 1966, the Nassau Speed Weeks were a high-octane end of season ‘play-off’ in the sun between Americans and Europeans – serious racing and even more serious partying!

If ever an event deserved to be revived, it was the Nassau Speed Weeks. Originally held 1954 – 1966, iconic race cars such as Ferrari GTO, Birdcage Maserati, Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, Chaparral, AC Cobra and Ford GT40 were driven by stars including Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Innes Ireland, Ricardo Rodriguez, Mark Donohue and, of course, Stirling Moss. A high-octane end of season ‘play-off’ in the sun between the Americans and Europeans who met for some serious racing and even more serious partying!

In the Beginning…

The First Speed Week in 1954 was the vision of one man, Sherman ‘Red’ Crise who had seen racing grow in the United States much as in England on old military airfields. Crise had his eye on the old Windsor Airfield in Nassau and, with the help of local businessman Sir Sydney Oakes, the first Speed Week took place.

The Fifties…

Following the first, mainly local, affair word soon spread that The Bahamas were a pretty good place to end up the season and soon drivers of the calibre of Moss, Phil Hill and Shelby were competing in cars seen elsewhere on events of the calibre of Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. Speed Week had made the Big Time!

The Sixties…

By the end of the Fifties the event had outgrown the old airfield at Windsor and moved to a site at Oakes Field. The programme had expanded and become more varied including a Residents Race, a Formula Junior grid followed by a Formula Vee group as well as the traditional big Sports and GT cars. The great road racing Ferraris and Maseratis of the fifties now gave way to the Americans and the old saying  ‘There’s no substitute for cubic inches’ was never more true than at Nassau. The Chevrolet Grand Sports took on the Cobras while Jim Hall brought his Chaparalls and Roger Penske his Zerex Special and Lola T70s.

A young Bruce McLaren had arrived with a sports car of his own design, the Ferrari GTO had given way to the rear engined 250LM,  the Ford GT40 was present in numbers and the Chaparral 2E had enormous wings.

The world, and racing, was changing and it was time to move on, the Speed Weeks were no more…