WHILE most 16-year-olds have their sights set on securing a driver’s permit, Isa Deen, a racing prodigy from Charlieville, Chaguanas, is crossing extraordinary milestones on the local motor racing circuit.
Deen has had racing enthusiasts lifting their eyebrows since early last year, when at just 14 he won the Group I class at the 2017 Caribbean Motor Racing Championships (CMRC) in Wallerfield against far more experienced competition.
This, almost immediately after he transitioned from kart to circuit racing.
He credits the karts for preparing him for circuit racing.
He suggested that kart racing is practically a prerequisite, or as he says, “the best headstart”, for young racers looking at circuit racing.
“It builds a good foundation and it helps build your mindset for racing,” Deen said in an interview with Newsday.
“It teaches you different techniques and gives you the experience you’d need later on for circuit racing.”
The British Academy student set the bar high early on and has no plans of looking back. Deen had what he describes as “an experience of a lifetime” competing at the Ginetta Junior Championships in the UK, last year, where competitors, all around his age, were tested purely on their control of the vehicle.
There, he represented Team Elite Motorsport racing in a Ginetta G40 sports car for the first time, and also got a feel of the F1 track in Silverstone. In the midst of this, he was featured on Ginetta’s official website.
Deen got into kart racing at seven years old, starting on a 50cc cadet kart, before moving onto the faster Rotax Minimax. Some years later, he joined the 125cc Rotax International class, with which he started competing.
Deen was undoubtedly influenced by his father, George Deen – popular on the local racing circuit in the 1980s – and his brother Saleem Deen, who is also a racing enthusiast.
“I grew up around fast cars,” he said.
Asked about his proudest achievement to date, Isa responded: “At the CMRC in Trinidad when I won my Radical race, as it was my debut weekend in Radical... first time racing the car. Then I got second in the second race and in the third, I got first place, coming from last.”
With three sponsors already to his name – Rock Hard Cement, Redline and D’s Car Boutique – it can be easy to get carried away.
But, like many other young sportsmen with a balance, he has a keen eye on his academics and has every intention of going to university abroad to study. He said he wants to pursue business studies.
“I would love to race as a full time career but I still see it as a pastime... A get-away from work.”
Winning, however, can be addictive. “If everyone is cheering you on, it encourages you to do better, and you feel proud when you wave the TT flag high in the other islands.” And, while Deen may be a decade or three younger than most other racers, he seems to be getting along just fine within the community. “I feel very comfortable in the club (TTASA) right now. Even though they’re all older than me, I don’t feel intimidated.”
“I was actually protested on the weekend of CMRC Trinidad where they thought my engine was illegal. But you know, they checked it out and of course everything was in line. We don’t like to race illegally. It’s not a good thing for the sport, you know. It kills it,” he said. Dean next plans on travelling to the Guyana leg of the CMRC with his Honda Civic and Radical SR3 and then to the Barbados leg. “