Pretoria - It is perhaps appropriate that the first event of the motorsport season at both Zwartkops in Pretoria and Killarney in Cape Town is the annual Passion for Speed international historic race meeting, where we celebrate the legendary men and machines of days gone by, revving us up for the contests to come.
The 17th edition of Passion for Speed will start at Zwartkops with races for historic cars on Saturday 27 and motorcycles on Sunday 28 January.
Saturday’s four-wheeler action will see iconic cars such as Porsche 917s - Le Mans winners once considered too lethal to drive - Ford GT40s (the car that Ford built to beat Ferrari) Lola T70 and T212s, and many more sports racers of the 1960s and 1970s when the most effective way to get more speed was to put in a bigger V8, battling it out in the Pre-1974 International Sports Racing Prototype races.
The Pre-1966/1968 Le Mans / Sebring Sports & GT races and the 45 minute SA Tourist Trophy will see local drivers such as Peter Lindenberg and his daughter Paige in big muscle-cars, Chad Ten Doeschate, Eddy Perk and Djurk Venter in Shelby Daytonas, Warren Lombard and Alan Garrow in Cobras and Thomas Falkiner in a Mustang take on two Dutch Shelby Mustangs, British driver Donald Duncan’s McLaren M1, Chris O’Neill and Richard Wilson and Jaguar E Types and two Swedish GT40 entries from Kling and Persson.
The Pre-1974 Historic Single Seater races will celebrate South Africa’s Grand Prix heritage with a variety of cars from 1950s specials to Formula Vees and Fords, and Formula 1 machines that have raced in both Formula One and the South African Drivers Championship. Allan Bailie’s Lotus 24, for example, is the same car raced by world champion Jack Brabham in F1 before SA champion Syd van der Vyfer bought it to race in South Africa.
British visitor Andrew Wareing has entered a BRM P261, Richard Wilson a Lotus 27 and Jim Timms a Cooper T59, while Pat Dunseith will drive Peter de Klerk’s homegrown 1962 Alfa Special that beat them all at Kyalami’s Rand Grand Prix. Formula Ford will be well represented by a variety of Lotuses, Dulons, Titans, Merlyns, Van Diemens and locally built Tempests, with Formula Vee represented by Palliser, Bolzup and Gecko.
A special Ferrari-only race will see legendary multiple 9-hour winner David Piper back in a racing car to take on the likes of Supervan Sarel van der Merwe, multiple SA drivers champion Ian Scheckter, his son Jaki, and Mark and Jonathan du Toit.
There will be three historic saloon car races, starting with the Pre-1966 Legends of the 9-Hour Production Cars where the busy Supervan will race a monster Ford Galaxie against Ford Mustang duo Ben Morgenrood and Peter Lindenberg, Hennie Groenewald’s Ford Comet, Jeff Kruger in a Plymouth Barracuda, Lee Thompson’s Chevelle and Mark and Jono du Toit’s Chevrolets. They’ll take on Dutch drivers Campagne and Van Maarschalkerwaart in a Mustang and a Galaxie respectively, ahead of a swarm of smaller but very quick Alfa Romeos, Volvos, Fords and BMWs.
Pre - 1977 Classic & invitation Cars will pit the likes of former SA champion Mike Briggs - back in a Group N Opel Superboss - against the BMW Shadowline of old rival Robbi Smith, muscle-car hard men such as Sarel van der Merwe in a Chevy Can-Am and Mike O’Sullivan’s Chevrolet SS among a field of Mazda rotaries, Datsuns, Fords, Fiats, Alfa Romeos and more.
More 70s and 80s production cars will battle it out in the Historic Pursuit, FGH and Midvaal Historic races, while the Pre-1966 Little Giants Sports and GT races look a bit further back to a time where Alfas, Fords and Volvos competed with Darts, MGs and Porsches - and there will even be one-make races for the ubiquitous Lotus Seven.
And then there will be a races for brand-new cars - with a twist: South African racing legends of the past 40 years such as Sarel van der Merwe, Geoff Mortimer, Willie Hepburn, Ben Morgenrood, Michael Briggs, Chris Aberdein, Deon Joubert and an as yet unidentified eighth driver, who will only be named after the race, will battle it out over eight laps in identical new Volkswagen Motorsport Polo Vivos, with each driver drawing his car’s key out of a hat.
As if to echo the title of an iconic motorcycling movie, Sunday’s programme will be headlined by a South Africa vs England classic Superbike race where six nominated South Africans take on six English riders in the Day of the Champions Cup.
The British team will be led by Isle of Man TT legend Michael Dunlop, joined by Alan Duffus, Robert Burns, Mike Alborough, Bry Bayes, Carl Tiffany, Gordon Grigor, Ian Simpson, Iain MacPherson and Howard Selby.
The South African team in this ‘pot-roast ‘n biltong’ affair includes Noel Haarhoff, Roland Alborough, Iain Pinkerton, Adrian Gibbon, Leon van der Berg, Mike McSkimming, Jonathan Pells, Fergal McAdam, Douw Coetzee, Timothy Romans, Gary Hunter and Etienne Louw on a variety of classics from the golden age of four-cylinder superbikes.
Sunday’s classic motorcycle demonstration for machines too rare and irreplaceable to be raced in anger will include SA MotoGP hero Dave Petersen riding the ex-Kenny Roberts Proton among a field of classic racing Hondas, Suzukis and Kawasakis and a rare Seeley Triumph 650.
Get up close and personal
As always, the Zwartkops Raceway will have an open pit policy - everybody is invited to visit the pits on foot during the meeting.
The circuit's traditional Mini Moke trains will operate between the pit gates and various spectator areas throughout the day, with all grandstand seating free of charge.
The pit area will contain children's entertainment, food and drink, plus a large flea market.
Full weekend admission will cost R210 per adult and R140 per student; the same prices will be valid for tickets bought at the gate on the Saturday. Presold full weekend passes from the Zwartkops office or at iTickets will be R190 per adult and R120 per student. Tickets for the Friday or the Sunday only will cost R110 per adult and R90 per student. In all cases, entry will be free for children under 12.
For more information, call Zwartkops Raceway on (012) 384-2299 or 082 390 6016.
Round 2 at Killarney
The second leg of the Passion for Speed series will be run at Cape Town’s Killarney circuit a week later, on Saturday 3 February - but with all the racing condensed into one day, the action will be fast and furious, with fewer supporting classes and more historic big bangers giving new meaning to the term ‘rolling thunder’.
The Classic Motorcycle races and the Historic Motorcycle Group’s parade will take on a distinctly ‘Capie’ flavour as local heroes (and their riders) are dusted off for a rare outing at the scene of their glory days, such as Casey Wolters’ Kawasaki H2R 500cc two-stroke triple and ‘Danie van Killarney’ Maritz and the Suzuki GSX-R that won him the 1986 Regional title.
Entry will cost R100 for adults and R40 for students; as always, entry will be free for children under 12.