The eighth annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb may have gone off without a hitch this past weekend, but shortly after the event a vehicle transporter carrying six competitor cars burst into flames on the N2 highway just outside of Sedgefield between Knysna and George.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the blaze completely incinerated the precious goods which were en route back to their respective owners in Cape Town.
The irreplaceable machinery tragically lost included the 1979 March Formula Atlantic single seater driven by Charles Arton to second place at Friday’s Classic Conqueror event, and a vintage V8-engined MG which was passed down to driver Anton Rollino from his deceased father. The other four cars were Cape-based V8 Masters Mustangs, designed and built by renowned racing engineer Owen Ashley before his death in 2010.
It has been reported that one of these Mustangs (the top middle one) started the blaze.
Ian Shrosbree, managing director of the Knysna Speed Festival and organiser and founder of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, expressed his dismay and distress after hearing of the incident.
“After the resounding success of the last three days where each of the participating vehicles becomes part of the essence of the competition – this disaster impacts on us all. The loss of complete vehicles (some of them one-of-a-kind and literally irreplaceable) and the damage to others cannot be quantified.
Nobody was injured in the incident.