In recent times, the value of motor sport as a means of promoting the island has been emphasised time and again. 
During 2022, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) added the branding ‘Motorsport Island’ to its global promotion of the destination, stepping up support for a sport which has long been a major crowd-puller among local enthusiasts and
a magnet for overseas visitors looking to combine a family holiday with some competition in the sun. As far back as
the 1970s, Bushy Park in the south-eastern parish of St Philip attracted crowds estimated at around 10 per cent of the population to enjoy action- packed circuit racing days with a sprinkling of international entries, while rallying had attracted a handful of regional competitors even before that. 
Fast forward a few decades and it is now rare for any of the 50 or so events listed on the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) annual calendar not to include overseas entries. Many regional and international competitors have race or
rally cars based in the island, prepared by local engineers and technicians, drivers from the wider Caribbean, Britain and the United States paying regular visits to compete in local championships, not just cherry-picking the high-profile international events. 
In recent times, the value of motor sport as a means of promoting the island has been emphasised time and again. Sol Rally Barbados 2023 was the 33rd iteration of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, which has regularly contributed more than Bds $4 million to the economy, much of it in valuable foreign exchange, and accounted for as many as 4,000 visitor nights at a traditionally quiet time of the year for tourism. The event has hosted in excess of 600 competitors from 32 countries, who have racked up well over 1,000 visits between them and attracts newcomers every year. 
Sol RB23 was won by New Zealanders Haydon Paddon and John Kennard, passing through the Caribbean during a hugely successful globe-trotting season of rallying, winning events on three continents. Paddon, a six-time winner of his domestic championship and
the 2011 Production World Rally Champion, was confirmed as 2023 European Rally Champion- elect shortly before this was written, the first non-European to win the title, and was also leading the New Zealand championship once again and the new-for-2023 TER Series of which Sol RB23 was a round. When he triumphed in 
Barbados, the Kiwi beat local crew Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew by just eight-tenths
of a second – this was the smallest margin of victory in more than 20 years and a record in Paddon’s own career - and added his name to an ever- growing list of drivers with WRC experience who have rallied in the island. Winner in Barbados in 2008 & ’09, Ireland’s Kris Meeke has since been a five-time WRC winner, while Sweden’s Bjorn Waldegaard, who competed here in 2008, had been the first WRC Driver’s Champion in 1979. 
The late American motor sport icon Ken Block, who won Sol RB20, had competed in more than 20 WRC events, while Welshman Elfyn Evans, who finished third in Sol RB16, is a multiple WRC winner and front-runner over the past four seasons. The participation of these and other former works drivers like Martinique’s Simon Jean-Joseph (second, Sol RB16) and Finland’s Toni Gardemeister (fourth, Sol RB15), enhances the reputation and worldwide media coverage enjoyed by the event and, by association, Barbados itself. 
BTMI (and its predecessor, the Barbados Tourism Authority) has long been a partner of\ what has grown into a key pillar of the island’s sports- tourism product over its three decades, but has been steadily expanding its backing to other motor sport projects in various disciplines across the island’s organising clubs. It has worked with the island’s governing body, the BMF, supporting island entries in the karting and e-Sports categories of last year’s World Motorsport Games in France, where the two organisations jointly hosted a booth promoting the island in the ASN Village. BTMI has also supported the Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy (CJKAT) which is administered by the BMF and earned praise from the world governing body at the FIA Americas Congress in August 2023 for implementing the FIA ASN development series concept, ensuring a brighter future for motorsport in the region. 
In recent years, BTMI has also partnered with the Vaucluse Raceway Motorsport Club (VRMSC), which created the BimmaCup, a cost-effective form of motor sport, with rear- wheel-drive BMWs competing in stage rallies, rallycross and RallySprints in Barbados and around the region, culminating in an international event at the end of each year. In addition, for the first time in 2023, 
BTMI extended support to the Barbados Association of Dragsters & Drifters (BADD) and the Barbados Auto Racing League (BARL) for jointly- promoted drag racing events. 
But arguably the most far- reaching of BTMI’s motor sport programmes is its sponsorship of ‘The Boy from Barbados’, 20-year-old Zane Maloney, who was crowned Rookie of the Year by the world’s governing body of motor sport, the Federation International de l’Automobile in 2022, after he had finished Vice- Champion in the FIA Formula 3 Championship. In 2023, he became a Red Bull Junior Driver and progressed to F2, where he had claimed four podium finishes at the time of writing. Maloney is also supported by Bushy Park Barbados, with logos clearly seen on car and overalls during the F2 Championship’s extensive TV and on-line coverage, but perhaps the most interesting feature of the partnership is Zane’s helmet. While the overall design was executed by Maloney and the Red Bull team, BTMI graphic designer Mario Knight designed the Barbadian element to showcase the heritage, culture and wildlife of the island which so many visitors will already have experienced: “One of the most iconic symbols in Barbados is a bus stop sign. Any Bajan that sees it recognises it immediately, so it has become part of our identity. The helmet features historical monuments like the Parliament Buildings, our indigenous black belly sheep, our local green monkey and yellow silhouettes of flying fish.” With the Destination Barbados logo on the back and a uniquely stylised Trident in the centre of the red and white bus stop on the top, the helmet promoted the island worldwide throughout the F2 season. 
Zane, of course, learned his trade at Bushy Park, winning Barbados Karting Association (BKA) titles before heading to Europe to pursue his dream of a seat in Formula 1. These days, the St Philip facility attracts up to 300 patrons a month, locals and tourists alike, to enjoy the popular Karting Experiences, while it hosted the first Caterham Caribbean Cup in November 2023 – another event supported by BTMI - bringing 30 of the lightweight sports racing cars from the UK for a weekend of action-packed racing to round off the British manufacturer’s 50th Anniversary season. 
In addition to its affiliation to the FIA, where Barbados Motoring Federation President Senator Andrew Mallalieu is a member of the World Motor Sport Council, the BMF is now also affiliated to the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), the world governing body of motorcycle sport. Discussions are under way to revive the circuit racing scene and focus on motorcycle events in both sport and leisure riding which is already popular in the island.