Young motorsports enthusiasts will probably be unaware that South Africa boasted a National Formula One Championship from 1962 to 1965. The races included the Rand Grand Prix at Kyalami, the Cape Grand Prix at Killarney, the Natal Grand Prix at Westmead, the Rhodesian Grand Prix in Bulawayo and, most importantly, the South African Grand Prix, a round of the F1 World Championship, in East London.
The big names of F1 came – Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Innes Ireland, Stirling Moss and Jo Bonnier – with car constructors including Colin Chapman of Lotus, John Cooper of Cooper F1 and Sir Alfred Owen of BRM. Top South Africans included Tony Maggs, John Love, Gary Hocking, Neville Lederle, Trevor Blokdyk, Syd van der Vyver, Sam Tingle, Peter de Klerk and Jackie Pretorius. Local car builders were people like Doug Serrurier in his LDS, Peter de Klerk with his Alfa Special and Bill Jennings with his Jennings Porsche.
Many of these cars will race at Zwartkops during the 2020 Passion for Speed events in 10 days’ time. The 18 cars will be in SA courtesy of the international Historic Grand Prix Cars Association. Present and willing will be the 1962 Lotus 18/21 Climax of Gary Hocking, the Trevor Blokdyk Cooper-Alfa, the South African championship winning Lotus 18 Alfa of Syd van der Vyver, the Heron-Alfa of Ernest Pieterse, a front-engined Lotus 16, one of the first F1 cars that Collin Champion built, plus a host of Coopers.
Other legendary cars will include a Cooper Maserati, driven back then by Don Phillip, Trevor Blokdyk and John Love, a Brabham B11 – the ex-Jack Brabham car that raced in the 1964 East London Grand Prix, and an LDS Alfa. Two other cars, not from the same era, will add lustre to proceedings.
To view will be a 1957 Maserati 250F, of which just 26 were built. The car, never before seen on these shores, is to be driven around Zwartkops at racing speeds. Back in 1956, both Stirling Moss and Juan-Manuel Fangio raced them in F1 Grands Prix.
Another favourite will be a twin-seater Lola Formula 5000, in which a number of lucky people will get the opportunity to go for tandem rides around Zwartkops. Formula 5000 originated in the US in the 1970s, using F1 chassis designs hooked up to five-litre American V8 engines. All the leading F1 producers and teams of the time built F5000 cars – McLaren, Lola, Lotus, Chevron and Cooper.
In South Africa F5000 cars formed a major component of our F1 grid, driven by people like Bobby Olthoff, Paddy Driver, John McNicol, Dave Charlton, Jackie Pretorius and Spencer Schultz.
Single seaters apart, the Passion for Speed programme will offer races for Pre-1966 Legends of the 9 Hour Production Cars, Pre-1968 Le Mans Sports and GT cars, Pre-1974 International Sports Prototypes, Pre-1968 Little Giants Production Sports and GT Cars, Pre-1966 Under 2-litre Production Cars and Pre-1971 Champion of Champions Production Cars. Modern car events will include races for G&H Transport Extreme Supercars, Mobil 1 V8 Supercars and the Bridgestone BMW Car Club.
On Sunday, 2 February, there will be races for 1000cc and 600cc Superbikes, Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters, plus Bridgestone Superbikes and Challenge riders. Racing apart, there will be activities like helicopter flips, drifting demonstrations, passenger drives on the kart circuit, skidpan activities and some rough stuff on the venue’s 4×4 track.
Various car and motorcycle clubs will have static displays, while a motoring-orientated flea market will offer memorabilia. There will be food and drink on sale, while the circuit’s kiddies’ entertainment area will offer youngsters clowns, face painting, pedal-car rides and the like. Spectators are welcome to bring their own food and drink, cooler boxes, gas braais and gazebos.
The venue’s open pit policy will mean everybody is invited to visit the pits on foot at any time. You do not have to walk far to do that. The venue’s Mini Moke trains will run throughout the event, operating between the pit gate and the various vantage points. Tickets are available at iTickets.co.za.