Age of Motor Racing
dates : 13th February 2005
17th February 2005
strong groundswell of opinion that the Golden Age of
motor racing in this country was between 1960 and the
Every summer the Nine-Hour international race was run at
Kyalami, followed by the Springbok Series which had a
unique mix of top flight Jaguars, Porsches, Ferraris and
the like sharing the track with humble Cortinas, Minis
and Alfa Romeos.
It was a unique pot-pourri unlike anything then or
loyalty was fanatical in those days. From the Jaguar D
Types driven by six-times champion John Love, to the
Anglias raced by Koos Swanepoel and Basil van Rooyen,
the cars and the drivers were legends.
These were engines from the pre-electronics days, with
carburetors and ignition systems you could tune to
Twin-cam Jaguars, Datsun pushrods, Lotus Cortina
twin-cam four-cylinders, roaring American V8s, and of
course…. Weber carburetors, wall to wall.
But it’s not only engines that people come to see.
Every year enthusiasts gather at Zwartkops Raceway to
celebrate some of the great names of the past.
A top gun in the financial world when he’s not
thinking about racing cars, Peter du Toit is almost
single-handedly responsible for the revival of historic,
or old-timer classic motor racing in this country.
He rebuilt the Zwartkops raceway outside Pretoria a few
years ago, and he is of the firm opinion that old racing
cars should never be allowed to gather dust in a museum.
Peter owns and races dozens of cars himself, and his
sons are also keen racers. Amongst his favorites are the
classic Alfa Giuliettas from the late 1950s, such as
these Spider and Sprint versions.
Alfa Romeo cemented its South African reputation on the
racetrack with Giulia Sprints, Giulia sedans driven by
the likes of Arnold Chatz, Chris van den Heever and
Emmot Barwell from Cape Town.
These Italian production cars were years ahead of their
time with twin cam engines and Weber carburetors in an
era when other manufacturers were still producing
Alfa’s Grand Prix cars from the pre and post war era
You have to be a real classic enthusiast to be aware of
Chevron, a tiny sports car manufacturer from England.
Chevron B8s, B16s and B19s became household names in the
Nine Hours in the late 60s and early 70s, designed and
built by the late Derek Bennet.
The B19 has an illustrious history. It was driven in the
1971 Springbok Series by the likes of Mike Hailwood,
Brian Redman and our own great champion, John Love.
Fitted with a Ford Cosworth-inspired four-cylinder
multi-valve engine it was good for close to
two-hundred-and-fifty horsepower, and because of its
nimble handling and fantastic power to weight ratio it
was capable of taking on the likes of Porsche and
Ferrari on tighter tracks.
They may be old but these cars are seriously quick and
things can go wrong, as first Jan van Veelen in a
Porsche, and then the unfortunate Corrin found in his
Chevron. Fortunately damage was superficial.
A wonderful aspect of the Old Nine Hour race was that it
mixed factory sports cars from Europe, with humble
Gordini was a tweaked version of the R8 four-seater, and
it became a legend in South Africa.
In the 1969 Nine-hour Event, a highveld downpour in
November turned the track into a river. Who would forget
the sight of Scamp Porter, then a Renault works driver,
passing the Porsche 917 of David Piper down the
straight, as the big Porsche slipped and slid on its
massive racing tyres?
one and only World Formula One champion Jody Scheckter
earned the nickname "sideways-Scheckter" in
these tail-happy rear-engined cars.
This example is owned by Brian Evans and driven
extremely quickly and neatly by his daughter Cindy.
Cindy is a modern day giant killer in historic races,
and a lot better looking than Jody, we may add.
She may occasionally get to mix it with the Porsches,
but these guys are no gentlemen racers.
contingent in historic racing is known for its ultra
competitiveness, and a 911 at the limit is no walk in
the park. Ranging from classic 911 Carreras to potent
930 Turbos, to the outstanding Le Mans RSR turbocharged
replica built and driven by Johan van Veelen, Porsches
mean business at Zwartkops.
Porsche still holds the record for the most victories at
Le Mans, and when it comes to building super-fast
reliable sports racing cars, the Stuttgart factory has
all about the Nine Hour era at Zwartkops. A hardy bunch
of enthusiasts are single-seater buffs, and here you’ll
see pre- and post-war classics, such as the 1938 Alfa
Romeo and MG specials mixing it with more modern Formula
Special-building was a fine art in South Africa in the
1950s, and one of the best exponents was Les Miller, who
built a number of wonderful creations based on the old
not only the cars that are classic. Who would forget
Dave Charlton, six-time SA Formula One champion,
enjoying an outing in Roger Pearce’s MGB?
Now well in his 60s, Dave drove a modern B.A.R. Honda a
few years ago. The braking ability of the B.A.R. was an
experience he’ll never forget.
Unbridled enthusiasm, attention to detail, a passion for
the sport. The Golden Age Zwartkops meeting, cars
galore, including some without engines.
replicas of a Lotus 16 and a Ferrari 156 shark-nose are
in fact soap-box racers.
Built by KwaZulu-Natal enthusiasts, they have won the
Red Bull down-hill race for the past two years. Detail
work on the soapbox racers is exquisite, right down to
the intake trumpets on the Ferrari V6 engine.
Mustangs, GT40s, Gordinis, Porsches… a magical mix
indeed. A golden era of motorsport that lives on in
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