What started out as racing go-karts as a hobby has turned into a tremendous opportunity for Senna Summerbell to represent Jamaica on the country’s Junior Olympic Karting team.
Senna, in grade 11 at SAC, started racing go-karts at the age of five. At first, he looked at racing as “an awesome activity” to do in his free time, but the interest quickly developed into a passion as he got older and saw his father’s accomplishments on the track. Senna’s dad, David Summerbell Jr., is an internationally recognized driver from Jamaica and a five-time Caribbean Motor Racing champion.
It is impossible to ignore the success ingrained in Senna’s lineage, and he is reminded daily from his full name: David Senna Summerbell. David is his dad’s name and ‘Senna’ pays homage to Ayrton Senna da Silva, a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One work championships and is regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time.
Senna admits at times he feels the need to live up to his father’s name and fame but believes he is on the right track.
Right track, indeed. Senna’s eye for the right lane has propelled him to new heights in his racing career, consistently making headlines in Jamaica over the last three years. After being named the Jamaican National Go-Kart champion, he captured the Caribbean Karting championship the following year, beating some of the Caribbean’s most talented drivers.
“These victories have given me the opportunity this year to be the first Caribbean driver ever to make it the Junior Olympics/World championships,” says Senna.
Next up for the teen is a flight to Brazil on Thursday, Nov. 22 as he will be racing in the FIA-Americas challenge against the best drivers from the Americas. A Top 4 finish in Brazil will qualify him to race the following week in Europe against some of the top competition overseas. “This is the biggest opportunity I have ever had and I'm working very hard to make the dream come true.”
There is no race track at St. Andrew’s just yet, so, for now, the 16-year-old student stays sharp by practicing the track he will be racing in Brazil through a program on his computer. He also just finished playing Junior Varsity Soccer in the fall term at SAC.
St. Andrew’s has been welcoming boys from the Caribbean, and specifically Jamaica, for more than 50 years. The Summerbell family was referred to the School by Old Boy Andrew Mahfood, from Kingston, Jamaica, of the Class of 1984, who is the parent of two graduates, Jake ’15 and Joshua ’13.
Story by Sean Maillet