Before a race car driver gets to turn a wheel in aggression or pop a clutch, a team of individuals behind the scenes works tirelessly to get that vehicle up to scratch. Today we bring you a story of one of those individuals; not just an ordinary rally mechanic but one with Bajan blood running through his veins. We are privileged to present to you the story of Damian Anthony Yearwood. After reading a post on Facebook about this guy I quickly messaged him, and to say that he was helpful would be an understatement. After a few conversations, if I had to describe his character in two words they would be “Detailed and Humble.”
LIT: What is your age and school background?
Damian: I am 36, born June 8th 1981. I went to school at Wilkie Cumberbatch Primary School, then moved to Coleridge and Parry (editor’s old school also :)). After graduating, I enrolled at Samuel Jackman Polytechnic and Skills Training, studying Mechanical Engineering.
My first job was at Premier Motors with Philip Moe maintaining the reconditioned cars, then onto Pro Auto with Brett Judd doing normal mechanic duties. After that I bounced around cleaning cars, then was at Galaxy Motors for some time. Then I moved to the UK for a very short period of time, working with Morgan Motorsport due to a British friend was an engineer who I met working on Paul Bourne’s car. He was impressed with my work and told me that I should try working in the UK.
At Morgan Motorsport, I prepared many cars for the likes of Mads Ostberg’s (S10) and Tony Davies (S9), then after I moved back to Barbados where i looked after Roger Skeete’s Escort, S9 and S12. After leaving Roger Skeete, another friend introduced me to BlitzKerg Auto Werks from Vancouver Canada, who were running a VW Golf in Barbados. After that I moved to Canada to start working for Blitzkreig running Porsches. Then moved to Toronto and worked for Can Jam, a Jamaican owned race team that specializes in Subarus, for a short period of time.
I opened my own business doing motorsport consulting where I rented myself out to teams as a consultant. Then I moved to Norway to work with Tesla. After Tesla I worked with Flash Engineering as a number 1 mechanic for Ruben Kressner in the STCC (Scandinavian Touring Car Championship). Then I moved to Germany to work for Hyundai Motorsport as a transmission technician.
LIT: Where did you get interested in cars?
Damian: I was interested in cars from a young age, growing up in the Pine (a well known neighbor in Barbados) there were 2 brothers (the Watsons) that had Vauxhauls and they used to work on them, but I just looked on from a distance and there was also one other guy with a MK 2 escort on my block that I admired every day :).
But it came mostly from watching that half hour program on Saturdays Gillette World Sports (Barbadians aged 30+ will remember this show) and Transtel World Sports just waiting for the Motorsport section where i could see the mechanics working on the cars. But it took off when I moved to Hothersal Turning and there was a guy with a Mini I started to hang with. Most of the guys would come and hang out there and it was then the bug really hit hard, I would “help” (using helped in a very loose manner) him build his Mini race car and a Nissan March he built for the road.
LIT: What cars have you owned?
Damian: My car life is boring. I really only owned one car. It was an EP82 Starlet (non-turbo) my dad gave me…..it did not last long as a day I was driving to my girlfriend’s house for lunch. I entered a corner and a car was on my side of the road so I swerved left and drove up a embankment and rolled it.
While overseas I owned a Golf GTI and and an older Audi RS4 but living in the cities it did not make sense owning a car so they did not last long in my hands either.
LIT: What is your technical background?
Damian: The technical background is mainly Mechanical Engineering but the biggest thing is being able to learn and adapt and move with the times, especially in Motorsport. With Tesla that was totally new to me but fun to challenge myself in a new way. Ended up being a battery technician. But in Motorsport it is good to put yourself out there and do things for free to gain experience. In this world no one really cares where you went to school; they care about your experience and your commitment to the team and your ability to adapt.
LIT: How did you start working in WRC for Hyundai?
Damian: Well with Hyundai i actually went to broker a deal for a car with a guy i was doing some work with in Norway, then i was offered a position in the R5 team and one of my mates i worked with in the STCC team got it (he has WAY more experience); but about a month after i got an email saying another position opened up so i took it.
LIT: What would be your advice for people who want a career in Motorsport i.e. Driver, Manager, Mechanic?
Damian: My first bit of advice would be to never give up and do not be scared to fail. It took me so long to get here and i made so many mistakes whether it be with people or with cars, but the most important thing is how you pick yourself up and move on and learn from them.
LIT: Any last words?
Damian: If any one knows me they know I made LOADS of mistakes but i never gave up. Although they were many times i wanted to; but I am too stubborn to give up any how lol. Also the hardest thing to do is to leave the country, there you leave your safety net, you go out into the world and there you have to adapt learn and evolve.
And with that you get harder, stronger and faster.