Since 1959, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have been challenging. During that time, both countries have continued to be greatly involved in auto racing / motorsports and have experienced respective rich and eventful histories. Since the days of Henry Ford and Ernesto Carricaburo in the early 1900s, auto racing in the U.S and Cuba has thrived and prospered. Along the river bottoms and high ridges in the U.S. and in the tropical enclaves of the island of Cuba, Americans and Cubans have expressed a long- abiding and enduring interest and enthusiasm for auto racing on short tracks, dirt tracks and asphalt tracks. Lore and legend associated with Cuban auto racing is plentiful. Families used grit, creativity, chemistry, and physics to generate racing opportunities in the early days and to keep pre-1959 vehicles running for the past 57 years since the overthrow of Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista by longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. When examining Cuban auto racing history, one has a greater understanding of Cuba’s rich culture and its geography.

This paper will highlight significant Cuban auto racing events and individuals from the early 20th century to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on the following topics:

  • Havana Cup - 1905
  • Marcelino Amador – early Cuban race car driver - 1915
  • Gran Premio de Cuba - Cuban Grand Prix (history and notable events) – 1950s
  • TailLight Diplomacy and Cuban auto restoration / motorsports – Rick Shnitzler and John Dowlin 1960 – 2000 and beyond
  • Havana Motor Club – Cuban drag racing – today and beyond

Political concepts (i.e. diplomatic relations in motorsports context, etc.) and future trends in Cuban motorsports (in relation to U.S motorsports, etc.) will also be featured.

Havana_Motor_Club_Goldwyn_Stills.zip (344 kB)
Havana Motor Club Movie Stills Group 1

Havana_Motor_Club_Shots_2_Adamich.zip (3160 kB)
Havana Motor Club Movie Stills Group 2

Havana_Motor_Club_Poster.png (6 kB)
Havana Motor Club Poster: Please use the following cite for all media submitted: Photo courtesy of Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Producer, Havana Motor Club movie (2015); used with permission.

Automovilismo_Cubano_Cuban_Motorsports__A_Brief_20th_and_21st_Century_Cultural_and_Political_History_20200923.docx (47 kB)
Adamich Draft #3 with typographical edits 20200923