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Tributes pour in for motorsport icon Maynard ‘Duke’ Soares

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Lasting legacy: Maynard ‘Duke’ Soares, who was the founder of the Bermuda Karting Club and inducted into the island’s motor sports Hall of Fame in 2019

The local motorsport community is mourning the death of one its greatest icons and ambassadors.

Maynard ‘Duke’ Soares passed away on Monday at age 79.

A passionate and fierce competitor, Soares carved out a truly remarkable legacy for himself racing various cars and power boats in a career spanning five decades.

Kart king: Maynard Duke“ Soares

Among the many contributions he made to local motorsport was forming the Bermuda Karting Club.

“It is with heavy heart that we learnt of the passing of a true racing icon in Bermuda, Maynard ‘Duke’ Soares,” Scott Barnes, the association’s president, said.

“Duke was the founder of the Bermuda Karting Club and its first president, a multi national champion and a true legend of the sport.

“Duke was the first BKC inductee into the Bermuda Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2019 and someone who paved the way for the sport in Bermuda to grow to what it’s become today.”

Soares founded the Bermuda Karting Club in 1975 with the first race held at the former PHC Stadium on May 24 1976.

Races were also held at Bermuda Athletic Association, the former Nationals Sports Club, White Hill Field, Kindley Field Road and the former US Naval Annex.

Sorely missed: Maynard ‘Duke’ Soares (Photograph Ras Mykkal)

“Duke will truly be missed by all in the BKC family and will for ever be known as a Bermuda Karting Club legend,” Barnes added.

“On behalf of the entire BKC family, we send our sincere condolences to the family and friends and to the whole BKC family.”

Soares travelled to England in 1960 at age 16 to learn the rudiments of motorsport racing and landed a job working for a Porsche car dealer.

It was through this affiliation he was appointed by the Porsche company as pit crew at the 1960 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Soares obtained his road racing license two years later and made an inauspicious start to his racing career having flipped his Morris Minor shipped from Bermuda on his debut.

He later purchased and raced in a Lotus 7, Ginetta Formula Ford and Darren 2B Sport Racer group 6 race cars.

Soares competed in numerous races in England, finishing runner up in two championships, including the Lotus Championship in 1969.

He also enjoyed success competing in his Darren Sport race car, finishing runner up in the class championship in 1971.

As well as England, Soares competed throughout Europe, including Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium where he won class honours twice and finished runner up in the overall championship.

His career came to an abrupt halt in 1971 after being advised by English immigration to leave the country.

However, it proved to be a brief hiatus as Soares purchased a Formula Ford car the same year which he competed with in Guyana and Barbados.

Maynard “Duke” Soares: Powerboat racer

In 1972, Soares purchased a fourteen-foot Bristol power boat which he won various class honours competing in back home, including in the prestigious Around the Island Race on three occasions.

He moved back to England in 1982 where he resumed his car racing career competing in a Caterham 7, placing third in the class’s championship as well as the Donnington Championship.

Soares also competed in the Willhire 24 hour race in the same class as well as on the Southeast Vintage Racing Association circuit in Tampa, Florida, in a Mallock Clubmans car throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Maynard Soares

Perhaps the highlight of his illustrious career was competing at the world famous Daytona International Speedway in Florida, where he won his first race in 2000.

He also won back to back class honours in the HSR Class Championship in 2003 and 2004.

Soares later purchased another Loftus 7 race car which he ended his career in competing in Florida.

“Duke was a champion, a true Bermuda champion,” fellow karting and power bot racer David Selley said.

“There were champions in other sports but he was a master and a legend.

“If he got his hands on something he was going to win. He was not just going to compete.”

As well as racing, Soares did stunt driving for the movie, Ivory Ape, which was filmed on island in the 1980s, and also at PHC in his private car.

He also competed in the Bermuda Day Half Marathon and ocean yacht races with his youngest son Mark.

Maynard “Duke” Soares

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Published December 03, 2022 at 8:26 am (Updated December 04, 2022 at 1:53 pm)

Tributes pour in for motorsport icon Maynard ‘Duke’ Soares

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