Leroy ‘Ice’ Spence’s Journey in the Racing Fraternity | Car

Leroy ‘Ice’ Spence is a veteran race car driver, circuit racer and rally navigator who got his start in racing due to a childhood interest in watching the sport on television. “I didn’t have any direct contact in motorsport at the time, as no one around me was even involved in the circle to get me into that fraternity.”

It wasn’t until Spence turned 18 that he bought his first vehicle, a 1998 Suzuki Forsa, which was a rally car. “It had been converted for road use but still had on the roll cage and other race mods like suspension and exhaust. Also, the rear seats were replaced with normal road seats.

Through this investment, he inherited some contacts who were racers because the person he bought the car from had connections to the racing fraternity. “It allowed me to have the opportunity to visit some racing events and as a spectator I was able to increase that interest that I had since childhood, as well as consider the possibility of actually participating in the sport.”

In 2003, he began his involvement in official and formal drag racing because at an early stage he discovered that he could shift a manual transmission vehicle very well. So he used this performance advantage to his advantage.

Then, in 2004, Spence formed his first racing team with his friend Jason Bailey in an attempt to invite people who didn’t have a long history or heritage in motorsports. “We were first-generation runners and we wanted people who weren’t in the circle to have a chance to get into the sport. In other words, dare to dream and for those who chose to dream, we will offer you the opportunity that was not easily available to us at an early stage.”

Your introduction to rally and circuit racing.

Spence had three years of successful drag racing seasons in which he was champion or runner-up. But on one occasion, while he was in Dean Corrodus’ workshop, he was invited to join the campaign for a season of rallying. “I loved the sport of rallying, but I’ve never driven a rally car, and I was really excited to accept the invitation, so we teamed up on the Mountain Dew-sponsored Honda Civic Type R in 2006, where we went on to a successful rally national championship. pilots. campaign for that season.

He continued: “So we were the championship-winning team in the country that year, and that was my introduction to rallying as a navigator.”

Although it took some getting used to, of all the racing genres he has experienced, rallying has been by far the most exciting. “It’s the most fun anyone can have in a car. The key to the rally is to be right on the edge of the control and get to the finish line in the shortest time possible.”

Spence’s introduction to circuit racing was through Christopher MacFarlane, who was the first trainer for the class of street car racers. Through this program came the mantra, ‘Race in Dover, not on the road’. This was used as a bridge for road racers to come to the track and receive training in an environment conducive to this activity. “This represented an opportunity for me to transition into this genre of auto racing, and while I loved drag racing, it wasn’t where my heart really lay. I was more interested in turning corners than driving in a straight line.”

It was also in 2006 that he made his first racing campaign at Dover as a driver in the road car class of the Improve Production 45 (IP 45) programme. “I had a successful year. Then I graduated to buy and enter my race car in 2007.”

During this period, he received training from his local racing idol, David Summerbell, and through this experience, he was inspired to improve his skill in the sport. “In 2008, I went to the UK and did formal driver training for the first time. I took part in my first professionally presented high performance driver program in the UK.”

Super Street Class Coordinator

After these years of honing his craft, he took a break in 2010 and 2011 to study and raise a family. Then in 2015, he was asked to become the coordinator for the Street Class program. “Monique Gibbs, who was president of the Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC) at the time and one of the early members of the racing union team, asked me to join the JRDC because they needed someone to spearhead and continue the development of the program. IP45.”

“So, in 2016, I became the coordinator of the program with the goal of accommodating people with and without prior racing experience. It started from scratch to become a proficient runner,” he said.

When asked if he does motorsport full-time, he shared that the “internal economy: of the sport does not allow it to be anyone’s main income. “Running in Jamaica is a club-level hobby, where you can get additional benefits and pleasure. But drag racing is the only genre of motorsport in Jamaica that pays a price to win.”

He continued: “All the work I do in terms of coaching and training I do on the weekends, on the sidelines. Initially, it was a volunteer effort that had no income and, in the early years, much of it was out of pocket. However, more recently, there is a small contribution from the participants, but it is still not a main source of income, by any means, and I do not do it full time because it is not sustainable at the level that it is.