HISTORIC RACING AT ZWARTKOPS, SOUTH AFRICA, 2nd FEBRUARY 2002.
Jonathan Merry has been kind enough to send in this report.
The tight and short Zwartkops track was host to its' first international race meeting since being rebuilt a couple of years ago. Despite its' length of just 2.4km, the track offers a variety of spots, but favours a nimble chassis over brute force. The return of world class historics racing at the track proved overwhelmingly popular with racing fans, as a record number of over 20,000 people showed up on race day, which was the biggest crowd seen at the track since it's first race back in 1961.
Star attractions in the various races were the Ferrari Dino driven by David Piper, the Ford GT40 of Chris Chiles, the Ferrari P4 of Max Wakefield and the ex-Jim Clark Lotus 25 to be driven by Chris Alford. Jim Redman was the star attraction in the Golden Age Motorcycles parade which was a demonstration event out of respect for the age of the machinery.
Chris Chiles in the GT40 won the One-Hour enduro for Pre-1965 Le Mans and Grand Touring Cars at a canter. Despite a spirited performance by the immaculate Ferrari Dino of Piper, it was the big banger Cobra of John Bendall which finished second (over a lap down), after an initial dice between the two of them with the potent Aston Martin DB4 of Martin Brewer. The Ferrari P4 of Max Wakefield looked underpowered and eventually retired with mechanical problems.
The Golden Age single seaters was a two horse race between the Lotus 25 of Alford and Alan Baillie's Lotus 24. The sound of these early 1960's F1 cars was surely the sweetest sound heard on a South African racetrack for many a year, and certainly proved to be one of the highlights of the day. Alan Baillie was the eventual race winner.
This race meeting proves that nostalgia is a huge draw card for South African race fans, and many classic cars were instantly recognisable from their heyday in races such as the much missed Kyalami 9 Hours and the Springbok Series. Apart from the Ford GT40, Ferrari Dino and 250 LMs, Lola T70s, Porsches and Chevron sports prototype cars, the F1 Lotuses, Coopers, LDS and Alfa Specials there were also production based saloon models such as Ford Mustangs, Capris, Cortinas and Anglias, Beetles, Porsche 911s, MGs, Minis, Darts and Flamingoes, Volvos, Fiats, BMWs and all manner of lotuses.
I am indebted to Jonathan for supplying the race report and photos.
Feel free to e-mail me