Mon | Apr 22, 2019

Kevin Chok: Passion and priorities in motorsports

Published:Sunday | February 3, 2019 | 12:23 AM
Chok at Independence of Speed.

Despite having a father, uncle, and cousin who race, circuit racer and restaurateur Kevin Chok informed Automotives that getting behind the wheel, for him, took some time: “I actually got behind the wheel late. Other than messing around with go-karts, I actually got behind the wheel at, like, 16.”

Soon after, though, he wasted no time in finding fun through drag racing in Florida. “A lot of my friends were into cars as well, so we used to just work on our cars, and on the weekends, we’d go to the track and compete to see who had the faster car.”

While growing up overseas, Chok also got involved in auto repairs. “I’ve always worked on my car. While I was going to school, I actually worked as a mechanic for around five years, so that’s where I developed the mechanical skills, and I actually did work on all of my cars.” This even led to him building his current race car, an American version of the Nissan 240SX, which he shipped to Jamaica in September 2013.

 

Racing in Jamaica

October 2013 saw the start of Chok’s circuit racing in Jamaica, though, perhaps, not the most ideal start. “I used a faulty hose on the car, and it actually caught fire. So the first race I had, there was a fire, so that wasn’t very fun”, Chok recalled, laughingly. Despite the somewhat scary start, Chok’s dad pushed him to get back into the car, resulting in him racing in April of the following year. “I actually did very well. Every race between 2014-2016, I got on the podium in every race, whether it be first, second, or third. I never came lower than third in those years.”

Chok earned two podium places at the 2014 Emancipation of Speed as well as two at the 2015 Daryl King Memorial event.

“Two thousand and sixteen was actually my most competitive year. My main competitor at the time was Fraser McConnell. I couldn’t win, no matter what I did, I was always second. It gave me a drive, actually. In that year, I didn’t race the October meet for the year. I decided that I was going back to the drawing board to rebuild the car and be more competitive. But unfortunately, Fraser stepped out of my class and went into another class. So I parked the plans after I saw that, but it did actually encourage me to try to do better.”

 

Time challenges taking a toll on racing

Chok’s plans remained parked for a while as he became busy with the operation of his restaurant. Even now, “the business takes so much time so I probably only race two-three meets for the year – because it does take so much time out of my day to get the car ready.”

His most recent meet, Heroes of Speed in October 2018, showed a decline in his competitive performance. “Last year was actually not a good year for me. I was a lot more competitive in the prior years. I believe I raced two meets last year, and it was more trying to get back into the groove. I didn’t race in 2017, so I had a lot of nerves to get over.” The entrepreneur revealed that racing is more of an endeavour of passion and self-satisfaction than a lucrative venture in Jamaica, thus he is forced to prioritise.

Despite this, Chok plans to race for as long as he can. He also looks forward to sharing his zest for motorsports with his future son: “He’s not here yet, but I’m actually starting to look for go-karts for him, I want him to get into racing. It’s just a passion so it’s not something I plan to stop.”

 

Continuing the passion

Chok is currently focused on preparing for the new competition emerging from last season, stating that he needs to “step his game up”. He intends to enter the 2019 Carnival of Speed event with that thought in mind. “It’s supposed to be in April – my son is due in April – so I’m hoping I get to race if he doesn’t come on the race weekend. If not, then definitely in May.”

Though he currently races independently in the IP3 class of the Circuit, Chok also has his eye on he rally scene of motorsports: “I actually want to get into Rally just to experience it, even if it’s only for a year to see what it is like. It’s just the only motorsport I haven’t done. People always tell me that [rally] is the top of motorsports, so I want to see if it’s true.”

When asked if he had any advice for individuals equally as passionate about motorsports, Chok stated, “When you’re in the car, just focus on having fun. Don’t think about the competition, don’t think about what other people think. Just drive and have fun. I would encourage anybody to get into racing on the track because there’s too much craziness going on on the road. And like with my brother, he loves driving fast, so I would want him to come off the road and get on to the track.”

Chok uses his own philosophy on the competitive track: “At the end of the day, whoever hits who or whatever happens, you are the one responsible for your own car. We want everybody to come back and race the next meet and have fun.”