They don’t make racing drivers like they used to, judging by this excerpt from Greg Mills’s new book, Agriculture, Furniture & Marmalade:
The exploits of Jackie Pretorius are legendary, such as when he crashed his Lola T70 sports car shared with his mentor Doug Serrurier at Pietermaritzburg’s Roy Hesketh circuit.
“Seatbelts had become compulsory, which the duo had pop-riveted to the chassis as a token to the authorities.
“When I turned left [the Lola] turned right; and when I went right, it turned left,’ Pretorius says.
“I remembered that we had only pop-riveted the seatbelts on, so I braced my arm against the dashboard. When I hit the bank my arm went straight though and I could not get it out. Doug was not impressed when I got back to the pits and told me to keep going.”
Prolific writer of motorsport history and folklore, Mills writes about a colourful crop of Southern Africans who made it as drivers, engineers, mechanics and promoters in international motorsport, from Woolf Barnato’s three victories in the Le Mans 24-Hour in the 1920s to the era of Sarel van der Merwe.
The talent emerging from our part of the world – drivers and designers – was prodigious: Rory Byrne, Gordon Murray, Jody and Ian Scheckter, Wayne Taylor, Desire Wilson and John Love, to name a few.
Mills relates the stories of these and other home-bred racing personalities who plied their trade in a derring-do era when deaths in motorsport were commonplace.
And the origin of the book’s unusual title? You’ll have to read it to find out.
Illustrated with photographs of racing machines and the often shaggy-haired, huge-collared people who drove them, Agriculture, Furniture & Marmalade is available for R220 online from kalahari.com, exclusives.co.za, loot.co.za, takealot.com and motorbooks.co.za, or at Love Books in Jo’burg, Exclusives, and Motorbooks. -Star Motoring