I've never been to the Cayman Islands, let alone anywhere in the Caribbean. So when an invitation popped up in my inbox to attend the Cayman International Car Show, I'd be stupid to say no!
Luckily, the show took place in January, which is one of the slower months of the year when it comes to events. This made it easy for me to pack a weekend bag and make the ten-hour journey from LA to Grand Cayman Island.
I'll be honest with you, I didn't expect much out of the car scene from an island that's 22-miles long with a population that can't even fill a football stadium. But I did some research and discovered this show has been around since '04. Our friends at Modified even ran a decent report on the scene there. Knowing this, I kept an open mind, but if it was wack, I'd be spending my weekend sippin' Mai Tais in the Caribbean.
After my red-eye flight to Miami, followed by a long layover and connecting flight to Grand Cayman, I was received with heavy rain. So shitty! And since the show was scheduled to take place at Festival Green Camana Bay (a grass venue), the event was postponed! Just my luck; however, the main organizer, Tony Williams from Tony's Toys (the Cayman Islands' go-to place for purchasing imported cars, routine maintenance and any tuning needs), put together a last minute get-together, just for me!
With less than 12 hours notice, nearly 30 of the island's finest rides showed up. Surprisingly for a British territory where you can't legally go over 50mph on any public road, I noticed plenty of cars with decent power including turbo Civics, R33 Skylines, Supras and a handful of Evos. Were they up to the standard of what we have here in the States? Maybe not entirely, but I gotta give them props. There are no freeways or a racetrack on the island, plus the taxes on importing cars and parts are sky high. I can appreciate that these Caymanians are hardcore enthusiasts. So if you ever make it down to Georgetown, don't be surprised if a boosted EK passes you while you're on the way to the beach!
Things I found interesting about Cayman Islands
- The Cayman Islands is actually three islands but you only need to know about Grand Cayman.
- It's a British territory, meaning you'll hear plenty of British accents but they also allow both left- and right-hand drive cars there.
- While residents benefit from no income and property taxes, the government makes up for it with other taxes. There's a 27% duty on import car parts and a 42% on imported cars. Holy schnikies!
- There used to be a drag strip on the island but currently there's nowhere for drivers to go legally fast. But that all will change in the next few years, as a new track is being built!
- My host around the Cayman Islands was LJ Garcia. The old school show-goers and street racers will remember him but he's now an official resident and car celebrity on the island. Everybody knows his name!