A master of race track and rally stage, saloon and single-seater
All-rounder Mike Atwell enjoyed a successful career spanning more than 20 years, and encompassing rallying, circuit racing in karts and cars (occasionally even motorcycles) . . . but he may well be best remembered as the innocent party in one of the biggest accidents of the 1970s Bushy Park.
As well as competing, he served on the Club committee (in the late 1960s, then again in the ‘80s), and was an accomplished mechanic, regularly travelling with the Bajan team to Guyana; while racing karts in 1972-73, he prepared machines such as the Holden Torana XU-1 of Harry Watkins and the Terrapin of Bizzy Williams.
At the end of 1972, he teamed up with Bizzy to win the Goodyear Enduro 500 at Bushy Park, a performance which gained him sponsorship to run a Datsun 1200 in Group 1 the following year. His smooth and consistent style earned a further step up the ladder in 1974, when he joined Bizzy in a two-car Terrapin team to race in the newly-created Formula Caribbean category.
Competing at Bushy Park, also in Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad, he won the 1300cc class in 1974 and 1975, and steadily lowered the class lap record at Bushy Park – from a starting point of 46.7 seconds, it was left at 44.0s, compared with Bizzy’s 42.6s for the 1600cc class, set in a Brabham BT28, powered by a Lotus Twincam engine built by the team.
Atwell had decided to retire from circuit racing, even before the accident in December ’75, as he explained to The Nation at the time: “The accident has no bearing on my decision. It was the sort of accident that could happen to anyone.” While circuit racing would play no part in future, Atwell’s talents were displayed again during the 1980s, in speed events and rallies, both at home and in Trinidad, where Bajan teams competed on a regular basis.
Driving X9, a Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo (pictured below), Atwell was a force to be reckoned with, his victories including the 1983 June Rally with David Barnard as navigator, and the 1985 Red Stripe 500 Rally, with navigator Garry Clarke. Later, he and Phil Tallboys would be the first Club members to compete outside the region (see page 200). He also inspired a passion for motor sport in son Martin and, although both now live in the United States, they are familiar faces at major Club events.