Remembering Jimmy Dean, A Motorsport Legend in Uganda


By Mwambazi Lawrence

In the books of Ugandan motorsport history, one name still stands out prominently Jimmy Dean. Beyond being a two-time Ugandan national rally champion (1987-1988), Dean left an indelible mark as both an active participant and a champion in motorsport. His contributions as an administrator and a steadfast arbitrator in resolving motorsport disputes further solidified his legacy in the Ugandan racing community.

Jimmy Dean in a black hat during the botanical Rally

A Controversial Finish in the 1986 Spear Motors Independence Rally
One of the most talked-about incidents in Jimmy Dean’s career occurred during the 1986 Spear Motors Independence Rally. Dean, serving as the chairman of the Uganda Motor Club at the time, found himself in the midst of a controversy. Despite being an active participant in the rally, he allowed himself to be towed almost to the finish line, a clear violation of regulations.
Deep in the countryside after Masaka, Dean and his co-driver, the late George Bitature, faced a major breakdown. Frank Kibuuka, the Dembe team manager, came to their rescue in a Mercedes Benz, towing them to Speke Hotel. From there, Dean rolled the last 200 meters to the finish at the International Conference Center. The controversy led to a halt in the prize-giving ceremony until the National Council of Sports sought legal clarification from the then Principal State Attorney, MacDusmus Kabega. The results were eventually upheld, with complaints raised outside the regulations time.

The Rise of a Self-Made Man
Jimmy Dean’s journey to becoming a motorsport legend was marked by determination and resilience. Rising through the ranks, he served as the UMC president, advocating for the emergence of more motorsport clubs and their affiliation with the National Council of Sports (NCS). His tenure saw a positive growth in the motorsport community, thanks to his unwavering support for expansion.

A Man of Humor and Contradictions
Known for his famous jokes and merry laughter, Dean’s personality was a unique blend of humor and contradictions. Often mistaken for being of Indian origin, he once humorously disowned this assumption, claiming to be Pakistani. He delighted in sharing anecdotes, such as his Pakistan mother-in-law’s disdain for his drinking habits, narrating how she would climb the ceiling of his residence to destroy hidden bottles of whiskey.

The Final Farewell
Jimmy Dean’s passing marked the end of an era in Ugandan motorsport. His burial at Kololo Moslem Cemetery was not without drama, as his casket had to be moved several times before finding its final resting place. The ceremony was a testament to the impact Dean had on the community, with friends like Karim Hirji, from the then Dembe team, paying their respects to their old pal.
Jimmy Dean’s legacy lives on in the hearts of the Ugandan motorsport community. His contributions as a racer, administrator, and peacemaker continue to inspire those who follow in his tire tracks. As Uganda remembers this motorsport icon, the echoes of his laughter and the tales of his daring feats will forever linger in the stories told around the racing circuits.

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