Havana Motor Club showcase Cuba's wild side

Posted: 19-May-16 17:34

While we all know that Cuba is a heaven for racing nuts and fans of classic American cars, a new documentary by Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt has attempted to chart the history of auto-racing in the country since the days when Fidel Castro took power. Entitled Havana Motor Club, the film focuses on the Cuban drag racing scene and is sure to be a big hit with gas-heads across the globe.

Havana Motor Club showcase Cuba's wild side

It’s a little known fact that in 1958, a group of the Cuban car enthusiasts attempted to organise an illegal drag race at a party celebrating the kidnapping of Argentinean racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio. Seized by Cuban revolutionaries the day before the Cuban Grand Prix in an attempt to embarrass the Batista dictatorship, Fangio’s kidnapping is still legendary in the country to this day.

It was at this annual parade and party that director Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt had the chance to meet a colourful cast of Cuban drag racers, and he has since put together a documentary charting the history of motorsports in the country that has already been released in selected cinemas in the US.

The need for speed

Following the story of Cuban auto-racing from this historic event to the present day, Havana Motor Club follows a group of hotrod enthusiasts who have remained true to the sport despite Fidel Castro declaring it a capitalist pastime and their continued quest to bring legitimacy to their beloved hobby.

As the documentary discovers, one of the biggest challenges facing Cuban car enthusiasts is the lack of available components, with many cars relying on engine swaps and handmade parts to keep them running. As such, drivers who don’t have an abundance of cash to spend on their car or access to suppliers in the US are forced to rely on their smarts to win races and outperform superior models.

In truth, this tells you all you need to know about the Cuban’s attitude towards cars. The country is not only a destination for fans of classic American automobiles, but it is also a place where ingenuity meets innovation due to the scarcity of resources. With many Cuban hotrod enthusiasts given little choice but to custom-build their own vehicles in order to remain competitive, the documentary showcases the craft that is involved in racing in the country and should provide plenty of incentive for American car enthusiast tourists to visit the island and learn from their creative mechanics first-hand.

Though Permlutt admits filming in the country was a challenge – with many featured races being cancelled hours before their scheduled start – the end result is a compelling film that provides a unique insight into this niche sector of Cuban lifestyle. For those interested in seeing the documentary for themselves, Havana Motor Club is now available to download on iTunes for $12.99.


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