East London - Grand Prix racing in the 1930s was a golden era of gentlemen drivers and spectacularly beautiful cars, and now motorsport enthusiasts will be able to relive those days at the first South African Historic Grand Prix Festival in November and December 2018.
The festival will bring together more than a dozen of the actual cars that raced in South African Grands Prix before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, with the Maserati 8CM in which American Whitney Straight won the inaugural Grand Prix in December 1934 as the star of the show.
The eight-cylinder Maserati had a three-litre, dual overhead camshaft, supercharged straight-eight delivering about 180kW at 5500rpm, and a top speed on the long straights of the East London Grand Prix Circuit of more than 240km/h. Staright’s car, one of only 18 ever built, had been modified to his specification with a Wilson pre-selector gearbox and custom bodywork featuring a distinctive heart-shaped grille, which it still has.
Other entries for the festival include the ERA that won the 1937 race and the Riley Ulster Imp which finished second that year, which finished second in the same event. Also entered are a number of cars that were raced in South Africa before the Second World War but didn’t compete in the Grands Prix.
Racing for real