It all started at a gathering of a handful automobile sport fans when it was seriously considered whether the fire of passion for autosports in Macau could be ignited. After almost 20 years of waiting, the Macau Autosports Club (MAC) was at last brought into being. It was an association formed entirely by devoted supporters of the automobile sport. The establishment of this organization was officially signed and approved at the Registration Bureau in Taipa on 17th April 1985. It was furthermore registered with the Macau Sports Committee and included in its dutiful activities “…to organize wireless remote control and four-wheel automobile sport, in addition to items in the Macau Grand Prix…”.
There were heaps of things to do to start the ball rolling, such as membership drive, drawing up realistic urgent basic requirements, looking into and formulating regulations for the upcoming race events, and searching for a venue suitable for automobile sport training and/or race.
Initial contacts were therefore made with the Government to request the authority to provide a provisional site in Taipa as the venue for staging the first show of cross-country motorcycling on 8th February 1987. Through that show, a number of organizational shortcomings were exposed. But it should not be forgotten that the volunteering organizers were new hands at organizational work. Shortfalls were naturally unavoidable in the circumstances. After all, the very first competition event was carried out.
Worthy of the archive were a set of manually designed drawings of the simple-outlook cross-country motorcycling racing track, a set of regulations revised in the light of the competition regulations in force then in Hong Kong and Portugal, letters submitted to and from the Macau Sports Committee reporting on the activities of this competition and the collection of cuttings of newspapers coverage.
On the other hand, there was one thing concerning the future of MAC. It was to make the application to join the Portugal Motorcycling Federation and it was accepted. The Club has thus become the only organization in Macau given authorization to organize motorcycling race events.
During 1987, a committee of the Club once again approached the Government to seek approval for using the Club’s proposed site, where there were basic conditions, as the venue for go-kart racing. The site, situated next to the Macau Trotting Club, was concrete-paved and earmarked for the future Taipa Sports Ground, but was being used temporarily as a parking lot. All that required were simple alteration and addition works to turn the site into a provisional go-kart racing course equipped with basic conditions. This venue, which was subsequently called Kartodrome, was in use until mid 1993. It was slightly smaller than the required area initially calculated.
The initially designed racing track, after a short period, was in part taken up to meet the need of urbanization. And certain zones along the racing track, at the same time, were put under speed limits when speed signs were placed by a few organizers due to their lack of experience. There was a set of modified racing regulations primarily based on the ones using in Hong Kong and Portugal at the time. All of such, the text together with the valuable experience, was kept in the files as cherished reminiscences.
Many an afternoon delight had been brought to Macau through activities such as demonstrations of wireless remote control of four-wheel-drive cars and helicopters and some other medium-scale related programs. Among the remote controllers were good friends from Hong Kong.
The staging of the related programs by MAC was aimed at the continual development of the automobile sport. At the same time it was to recruit more members, some of whom, judging from their age, should have stayed home taking care of their families. Such a sport event, however, could still charm them out of their homes. And through them certain local sponsorship was made available. With the support of sponsorship and coupled with their own means, the racers could then go to Hong Kong to buy brand new or second hand go-kart spare parts. That was the period when go-kart racing in Hong Kong was at its peak while international events were organized every year, attracting many drivers of international standing to race in Hong Kong. This sport had thus enjoyed a greater scope of development and the racing atmosphere was equally buoyant.
The first ever training course was conducted to meet the need for a better grasp of the safety affairs related to racing event. The course included ways of putting out a fire and rescuing a racer, etc. Under the supervision of a fire brigade, track monitors learnt how to deal with sudden accidents of various sorts.
Finally in the same year on 13th and 14th June, the first go-kart trial-race was carried out successfully. However, the event had caused a fair amount of adverse criticisms due to the limitations inherent in the organizer’s lack of experience. The various criticisms were taken on board seriously by the organizer and the related units from different agents. After analysis, the suggestions were applied to raise the level of safety preventive measures at the provisional race course. Everything eventually led to the first Macau Karting Open Championship (MKOC). From then to the end of the year, there were a total of 8 events organized. And here is a brief introduction of the winners back then. The first three winning drivers of the Adult Group in Group C were respectively Gary Sudjana, Carlos Veloso and José Sin. Events for the Junior Group and the Veteran Group were similarly staged.
In the wake of the first MKOC immediately came some unpleasant things, namely complaints from the residents living in the vicinity. They started a collective signature campaign and submitted their petition to the Office of the Governor, complaining about the noise and environmental pollution caused by the race and the participants of the events. It was then well into November.
Preliminary success led to the planning of open championship events to be organized on a regular basis. And it necessitated the strengthening of the structure of the Club to deal with the increasing responsibilities. In the circumstances, also easily and naturally bred were differences of opinions. The board of directors for the new term was elected by members at large attending the annual general meeting in a not-too-pleasant atmosphere. And the board of directors had properly registered themselves with the Macau Sports Bureau, thus becoming official representatives. At the same time, lines of duties were defined and specific committees were set up through appointment, each respectively responsible for one racing event. Certain conditions were put in place to set up training courses for the track monitors or called ‘signalers’. Arrangements were also made to keep some members in regular contacts with the automobile sport so as to upgrade their level. They took part in the Grand Prix committee work to gain more experience and to pass on such to their apprentices.
During the year, no big problems took place in the races. It was worth noting that the competitiveness of some of the events became more intense when some sponsors also joined the race. It furthermore brought about several special promotional activities, such as the race held along the Avenida da Amizade on 28th August and the race on 14th and 15th October in Zhuhai, Chnia, held on the development lot owned by a private hotel group.
Apart from regular racing events of light motorcycle, heavy motorcycle and go-kart, more entertaining racing events, such as “sheep race” for scooter, were also organized. The sport of automobile racing was pushed to a more competitive peak. As a result, more accidents occurred, leading to a few serious injuries among the minor ones. Contrary to expectation, participants and sponsors alike found the situation ‘more to their taste’. At the same time, more Hong Kong drivers were attracted to race in Macau. In turn, local drivers who performed better could earn the opportunity to compete in international events and to gain further racing experience. Notably, the year saw a local driver competed in Thailand and set the record of Macau driver racing abroad. The driver was José Ferreira Sin.
Yet, while the MAC committee was in need of hands, entrants to the race fell short as well. As a result, a peculiar situation happened; namely, some committee members registered for the race and competed in the event. And some non-committee members became provisional organizers. Situation like this could hardly be found elsewhere in the world.
In the course of development, the president of the MAC was invited to join the Organizing Committee of the Macau Grand Prix, representing the Club. This took place in April. The Club went on to support more entertaining and lighter events, such as the “rally race” organized by the alumni of the Liceu Secondary School. Such activities not only could they facilitate friendly exchanges between member clubs, they also afforded the opportunity to members to attend the course on time-keeping lectured by Mr. João Amorim, who was the Chief Time-Keeper sent by the Portugal Motorcycling Federation. Eight members of the MAC attended the course.
Year 1990 to Year 1991
At the beginning of the year, the MAC and the Macau Sports Bureau joint hands to prepare the program of sport activities during the summer vacation in Macau, so that students could better spend their spare time on healthy physical exercises. Included in the program were go-kart race and program on the study of special mechanical structures. Through such programs, young students came to pick up related knowledge and could become budding drivers through training. Our experience had shown that some students, after learning for a fairly short time, demonstrated the potential of becoming the star-drivers of tomorrow.
In these two years, local drivers had established a definite image and position for themselves after going through racing events in the neighboring countries or regions, e.g. Hong Kong, China (where in Shengzhen racing events are held regularly and the scores are counted towards the overall scores on the MKOC), the Philippines and Malaysia and getting admirable results. Concurrently, other members had also participated in international events, mostly in organizational work related to the event. It was also during this period the Club had made noticeable progress on expanding its operation and well set to do more for the annual mega-event of Macau – the Grand Prix. With the substantial support from the sponsors, the Club erected a multitude of glamorous advertising boards surrounding the karting venue and adding colors and a perfect touch to the event. The names of the winners in the various go-kart races were displayed.
In order to comply with the codes and rules of sport competitions, the Club reached a consensus after rounds of debate. The Club decided to hold an international event in Macau. In this regard, the Club had to join the concerned international confederation. Finally, the MAC has become an official member of the International Motorcycling Federation (IMF) on 12th December 1991 and has since enjoyed full membership rights. The International Motor-Racing Federation at its 111th Annual Meeting passed the above resolution. Since then, the MAC has been joining the league of international federations. This naturally had meant more responsibilities and duties. The Club had to seriously explore the strategies for future development, to strictly adhere to the rules of the organization and to allow no happening of anomalies such as the aforementioned incident of committee member taking part in the race.
Additional responsibilities required corresponding additional hands to cope with duties related to the Grand Prix. In this connection, further relevant training for staff to meet the requirements of the forthcoming duties was all the more necessary. Besides, consideration must also be given to the need to allow local drivers to have the basic training before the Grand Prix. It surely was a daunting task to provide both trainings at the ill-suited hour and within a very short period. One couldn’t help feeling a sense of helplessness. The physical constraints of Macau, after all, were the ultimate cause behind the difficulty.
The biggest hurdle encountered in the process of putting together more events was the lack of venue. Nevertheless, the Club still managed to find the opportunity to jointly organize with the Mazda trader for Macau a race called “Average Speed and Time Race” and held it on 13th and 14th April. In addition, the Club continued to address the need for technical training. On one occasion, the Club’s president was appointed to attend the seminar for personnel involved in scrutineering race vehicles.
The Club continued to hold heavy motorcycle, light motorcycle and go-kart events where the competition was getting severer and severer while more and more young drivers were emerging shining and promising. They all strived to overtake the veteran drivers. Moreover, they were paying more and more emphasis to the brand of the vehicles and the related garages, making the various races more and more ‘good looking’. Because of the severity of competition and motorists were anxious to win, many of them ran into accidents and could not finish all the events. At this juncture, the conditions were then available for the Club to hold the first Motor Car Open Championship. The race was called “Autocross Open Championship”, consisting of 4 events, each supported by a different sponsor, and most of the events taking place in the course on the Coloane reclamation. The track of that course was uneven, formed by a combination of asphalt surface and clay surface. The number of entrants was getting bigger and bigger. At the start of the race, the drivers in general used a vehicle with dilapidated body but a proper running engine that enabled the driver to perform under all conditions. International rules were adopted for use in this race. It was worth noting that the champion of the first Autocross Open Championship was Belmiro de Aguiar.
Soon after the MAC had become a member of the IMF, the president on behalf of the Club attended the annual meeting activities of the Federation from 17th to 24th October.
In order to assemble the necessary personnel to help out with the activities of the Grand Prix, the Club carried on with the relevant training programs. In parallel, two committee members went to the Fuji Racing Course in Japan to attend an Intercontinental F3 Race as “International Advisers”. The two committee members were Messrs Mário Sin and Artur Sousa.
In the midst of the 39th Grand Prix, the Portugal Automobile Association and the MAC announced the signing of an Agreement of Cooperation. The Agreement provided for the gradual transfer of certain duties from the former to the latter within a time frame, including the setting up of a representative office in Macau. Such a step was considered an important arrangement signifying the future development of the Club.
Three important matters took place during the year that deserved a place in the history of the Club. First ,the Club was admitted to the International Automobile Federation (IAF) as a provisional member. Second, the Club committee sent four members to attend a course of the IAF conducted in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. The IAF had deliberately chosen the Asian Region to conduct the course as a promotional activity and to take the occasion to award certificates to qualified Clerks of Course and Sporting Stewards. Messrs Ricardo Santos, Carlos Carvalho and José Sin were appointed to the Panel of Judges for the 40th Macau Grand Prix, upon completion of the course and obtaining the qualification. Third, the opening ceremony on the new head office was held.
The road forward hardly was straight and smooth. The notice of removal inevitably came down onto the provisional go-kart course in Taipa. The removal date was originally set on 3rd June but removal was finally done in mid September after postponement upon postponement. It was so delayed to allow the remaining events of the MKOC to be completed in that venue. Pending the removal, certain parts of the track were left in damaged condition, under which the events nevertheless went ahead. At last, we parted in a melancholic mood. Shortly afterwards, the Club received from the authority an undertaking of allocation of a permanent site for races. The Club then immediately plunged into the search of an ideal site. The ones most hard hit by the removal were those who loved and participated in this sport. They were the ultimate ‘losers’ when the racing course was gone.
As a supplement to the record, it should be mentioned that there were five local drivers representing Macau to compete in the event organized by the International Go-Kart Federation, held in Suzuki, Japan. And it was understood that Andŕe Couto took part in the event as representative of Portugal. He also raced in another international event held in Singapore.
The Club appointed the committee chairman as representative to join the Organizing Committee of the Macau Grand Prix. For about four years, local drivers were called upon to race in international events in accordance with the regulations (which had been made widely known to all interested parties) drawn up by the committee of the MAC. One of the regulations requires the participants to pay for the compulsory registration fee for the subject event. Local drivers were hence able to gain racing experience in international events which would not be available at local events. This, of course, did not apply to those local motorists who had raced in the Macau Grand Prix.
During the year, bad fate hit the second Autocross Open Championship. The race was cancelled due to entrants falling short. Back in the early stage, the first race was launched and finished despite insufficient number of participants. When one thing did not work out, the Club went for another. So, the Club started to organize events more recreational. One was to organize local cars and motorcycles to go for a self-help free travel in the Mainland China. The Club followed through the event and even managed to arrange for a tow-car to be granted entry into the Mainland, going with the vehicle team to provide emergence service if needed.
At the start of the year, the Club continued to look for a provisional race venue to finish several events left over from the previous year. It was the same problem facing the MKOC to be held during the year. The issue was finally resolved. A lot on the outer harbor reclamation was allocated for temporary use as race venue. There were two vertical tracks already paved with asphalt, simple, not very grand nor too bad, but good enough for holding motor racing. By then, quite a substantial number of people had already lost their interest in this event, which had nothing to do directly with the Club though. Nevertheless, there was open criticism voiced against the Club and there was even suggestion to replace the Club committee. Consequently it was proposed to hold an election.
At the end, everything was settled on a friendly note. The MKOC was finished in the latter part of the year and proved satisfactory to all motorists.
In addition, two Club members were sent to attend a steward training course held in Japan. They were Messrs Daniel Pedro and Artur Sousa, Soon after they had earned the certificate in “Clerk of Course, Steward and Starter”, they went to provide judging and tracks monitoring services in IMF and IFA events held in other places.
In the year, the Club appointed one more “Deputy Clerk of Course” to the panel of judges for the 41st Macau Grand Prix and Motorcycle Grand Prix.
The MAC, as appointed representative of the Portugal Automobile Association, was given a new mission, the issue of international driving license. This was the first time the Club took up an administrative duty. Subsequently, the Club was granted a new head office. Starting from 2nd January, the new head office has been set up in the Grand Prix Center Building by the outer harbor. That place had been reserved as the “Central Control Office”. It was to handle administrative preparatory work for the Grand Prix. In the previous two races, the Club provided about 150 workers to help out in the big event on each occasion. It was evident that the Club had sufficient manpower and will-power to take up the organization of the mega-event for the city.
During the year, another important matter was the admission of the MAC by the IFA as an official member with full rights. This was a result of many years of persistent endeavor plus massive achievements. A long held ambition was finally realized.
One more piece of exciting news came. The Government at long last proposed to the Club a plan for building a permanent go-kart race course in Coloane. This venue could hold international events. It was therefore expected that a newer height could be achieved in the near future and a greater good and help could be done to the local drivers. More importantly, work had already been started based on the design plans and excellent progress was made. The Government, moreover, made known its intention to have the course finished and put to use at the earliest.
It was worth mentioning, too, that the Club sponsored Mr. André Couto to compete in the 42nd Grand Prix held at the end of the year. Mr. Couto represented Macau in the race, the first Macau driver in a race of this class. His performance proved that he had what it took to get ahead in the ever demanding world class of motor race. He really was a genius and a model of dedication and perseverance for the local young drivers.
The Club did not intend, through sponsoring this young driver, to achieve any self-publicity, nor to snatch any credit. Simply put, the Club intended, through André Couto as an example, to inspire local young drivers to learn from him and to strive for yet a higher achievement. The Club had by now acquired three Campus model Formula Racing Cars. Driving skills could be better improved through the driving of such a Formula Car. And youngsters could be groomed to become stars of the local circuit and international circuit in the future.
To us, what was gratifying and noteworthy was to see Mr. Alberto Ferreira Sin becoming the champion for three years in a row in the MKOC and the champion for three years in a row in the Adult Formula A event. What a steadfast motorist, full of fighting spirit, to be mentioned on this special occasion!
Year 1985 to Year 1995 - Highlights
1985 - 17 April - The Macau Autosports Club (MAC) formally established upon registration with the Registration Bureau in Taipa
1987 - 8 February - First Motorcross Show staged in Taipa - 14 June - First Karting Trial Race in provisional course in Taipa - After competition in several events, champions of Rookie Group, Adult Group and Veteran Group emerged
1988 - 14-15 Oct - First outside event organized by MAC in Zhuhai, China
1989 - April - MAC president by invitation representing the Club to take part in committee work of the Macau Grand Prix Organizing Committee
1990 - Jul-Aug - Jointly compiled the sport program with Macau Sport Bureau for the summer vacation
1991 - 13-14 April - Organized first Trial Automobile Race in N.A.P.E. reclamation - 22 Oct - Joint the International Motorcar Federation (IFM)
1992 - Organized first Motorcar-Cross Open Championship - Mário F. Sin and Artur Sousa as ‘International Advisers’ took part in duties related to Intercontinental F3 Event in Fuji, Japan - Agreement signed between Portugal Automobile Association and MAC on gradual transfer of powers and duties
1993 - Carlos Barreto, Ricardo Santos, Carlos Carvalho and José Sin respectively attended training courses by IFM held in Kuala Lumpur; Carlos Barreto in ‘Clerk of Course’ and others in ‘Sporting Steward’ - Appointed Carlos Carvalho, Ricardo Santos and José Sin to join the panel of judges of the Macau Grand Prix - Moving out of the provisional go-kart course next to the Taipa Sport Stadium
1994 - 24-25 May - Daniel Pedro and Artur Sousa attended the seminar on ‘Clerk of Course-Steward-Starter’ especially organized for Asian Region by CIK/IFM, held in Suzuki City, Japan - 8-9 April - Mário F. Sin attended seminar on “Circuit Racing Safety” held in Indonesia - Appointed Carlos Barreto to the post of ‘Deputy Clerk of Course’ for the 41st Macau Grand Prix
1995 - 2 January - MAC Headquarters at Grand Prix Center open to public - Plan for new race course in Coloane passed to MAC for views of amendment and improvement - 20 October - MAC officially admitted into IFM
1996 - 10 February - Celebration of MAC 10th anniversary and ceremony of awards presentation