The sound of sports car engines revving across the 166-square-mile island of Barbados can easily wake the average Bajan. Before the crack of dawn, carpools full of motorsport lovers form cavalcades to the best vantage points where lawn chairs, hats and coolers then come out in preparation for the action.
The latest tunes blast from speakers of parked vehicles, and smiles are exchanged as camp is set up for the race stage. The sounds of soda cans and bottle covers creaking or popping open signal the real start of the rally lime.
Things reach a fever pitch as racers start their engines, and the smell of burnt tyres fills the air as they spin on the spot, screeching and creating clouds of smoke.
Motorsport enthusiasm in Barbados dates back to the 1930s, and the Barbados Rally Club is the oldest club on island devoted to a sport that doesn’t involve a cricket pitch or a ball!
So, dearest reader, rally fever truly exists, and it is contagious. Just ask 19-year-old Zane Maloney, who’s loved car racing from the time he was born. It seems his mission is to spread the passion for it as far and wide as possible.
“My entire family races cars, and I was karting from three years old … or just before I could walk,” he said in a Formula World TV interview.
Zane Maloney has become a household name among racing enthusiasts across the Caribbean — ever since his impressive 2019 British Formula Four Championship for Carlin (formerly Carlin Motorsport). His first single-seater season saw him claiming 10 race wins and five further podium finishes.
“The boy from Barbados”, as he is often affectionately called, became the first driver since Jamie Caroline to win all three races in a single weekend at Oulton Park. Maloney won that championship by 20 points at the final round, ahead of Mexican Sebastián Álvarez. In the process, he became the first Barbadian racing driver to win a championship in Europe, and the first rookie to win the championship outright in the history of the series.
At 16, when most of his peers were officially eligible to obtain their driver’s licences, Maloney was the first Caribbean driver to be inducted into the British Racing Drivers Club Rising Stars Programme. He is also the youngest recipient of the Barbados National Sports Council’s Sports Personality Award, as well as the Barbados Olympic Association’s President’s Award.
Formula One is the highest class of open-wheel, single-seater formula racing sanctioned by the Federation of International Automobiles (FIA), while the FIA World Championship is the premier form of world racing. So, what’s the difference between the Formula Two and Formula Three cars? To put it simply: F2 cars are heavier than F3 cars and slower on most corners than F3 cars due to the weight — but there’s more power in that turbo than the F3.
With Zane’s first F2 season underway, his next major goal is to become an F1 driver by 2024 — a feat he’s capable of after showing strong consistent growth over the years.
“We put Zane wherever the toughest competition is in the world,” says his father Sean Maloney, “and every time we do that, he does well.”
Like every athlete, Zane wants to win every championship he enters, and he puts in the work to refine his skills — results lead to opportunities, after all. He’s part of Red Bull’s Youth Team, which may offer up a chance to push for an F1 seat.
“Red Bull has four seats in F1, and if I do the job in F2, they may put me in because they want the best drivers,” remarked Zane on Be Social Podcasts.
It can be said that Red Bull’s expectations align with Zane’s expectations for himself — do the best job possible and show it on the track. And Zane’s track record shows he’s no stranger to breaking barriers, taking risks, and throwing himself in at the deep end.
After a challenging start to the 2022 FIA F3 Championship, where he drove for reigning champions Trident, Zane won the final three feature races — rocketing up from 10th in the standings to second. He finished just five points behind winner Victor Martins, and contributed to Trident Motorsport taking second place overall.
How did he do it? He focused on getting a position and not winning. “When the focus changed is when I started to win. I stayed calm and wasn’t too eager,” he recalls.
He re-joined Carlin for the 2023 campaign, which started well in Bahrain in March with a podium finish in the first feature race of the year.
And with the entire Caribbean supporting him, Zane pledges to never forget where he came from, whether or not he makes it as an F1 driver — and competes against his favourite driver Lewis Hamilton, who also has Caribbean roots. No matter what, he’ll always come back home.
And there’ll be much anticipation when this beloved son of the soil returns to compete at Rally Barbados (10–11 June) — the biggest motorsport event on the island.
Drivers, start your engines!