Durban-born McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray will be honoured on Friday night in his home city as part of a glamorous VIP tribute dinner at the first official event of the Top Gear Festival weekend.
Murray will arrive in town this week for the event and will be joined by Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and “The Stig”.
“The public might be surprised to know that one of the world’s most influential race-car designers comes from right here in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The Top Gear Festival is proud to welcome Murray home and honour one of Durban’s unsung heroes,” said James Cooke-Priest, chief operations officer for the organisers, Top Gear Live.
Murray is a former technical director of McLaren and the designer of the McLaren F1.
His career spans over four decades, and his automotive creations were responsible for countless Grand Prix wins, including the late F1 legend Ayrton Senna’s first driver’s championship.
Tables at the tribute dinner cost R16 000, or R1 600 a head. The dinner will be hosted by radio personality Sasha Martinengo, and the event includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes pre-dinner pit walk.
“The Top Gear Festival weekend will be a culmination of inspiration, passion, expertise and meticulous planning.
“It will all come together to light up the Moses Mabhida Stadium and people’s park, and will spill out on to the streets of Durban,” said Cooke-Priest.
“We’ve spent months creating the content for the festival, and planning the immense logistical operations required for an event of this size, and we can’t wait to share it with the tens of thousands of fans who will be joining us over the weekend.
“The support from the city of Durban and KZN has been overwhelming, and the enthusiasm from Top Gear fans across SA, as always, has been second to none.
“With just a few final touches to be made, and just a few tickets remaining, we’re looking forward to a phenomenal weekend,” he said.
Cooke-Priest said the event was a motoring festival, so there would be all-day entertainment, including the first street track for a Top Gear event in the world.
“The street circuit in Durban will be over 2km long and will wind through the streets around the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“Spectators will see The Stig do power laps, and there will also be head-to-head racing, supercars, drag racing, drifting, celebrity race challenges and more,” he said.
The festival kicks off from 9am on Saturday. On the street, circuit visitors will be able to see international stunt and race-drivers pitted against each other in a number of motoring challenges, including high-speed races and daring manoeuvres.
The circuit shows will be hosted by former British racing driver Tiff Needell and local motoring celebrity Sasha Martinengo.
The live stadium shows will be presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig.
They will feature local personalities, international stunt drivers and a host of Top Gear’s trademark special effects, crashes and customised cars.
There will also be displays of driving brilliance by the Top Gear stunt driving team.
Another must-see at the show is the motoring pavilion, where some of the latest and greatest cars will be on display, including the Top Gear challenge favourites from the show.
The Franschhoek Motor Museum and Mercedes World form part of the highlights.
Visitors can enjoy an exhibition crammed with stylish, rare and expensive cars, as well as the latest gadgets, luxury goods, car accessories and motoring technology.
Features will include the Off Road Course and the FMX Track.
Super Car Lifestyle, an SA organiser of supercar events, will supply more than 80 supercars for the festival.