Iain living the racing dream

While many men of over 50 are more worried about blue pills and their pension funds, others still find themselves chasing extreme bucket list ticks one wild weekend after the next. Iain Pepper is clearly one of the latter — not only has the race team owner made a victorious return behind the wheel of his race Polo, but he’s also been busy fulfilling a lifelong dream of racing a season of Cross Country Moto aboard his Pepson Plastics Husqvarna.  

The past few weekends have been hectic for Mr. Pepper — a one-time motocross rider, who stepped across to Formula Vee and Formula GTi single-seaters in the 1990s before becoming an accomplished tin-top racer in his own right in the Engen Volkswagen Cup and layer in SA Production Cars. Iain hung up his helmet when his kids started racing karts, all the while keeping his Polo Cup team running and today daughter Tasmin is a leading light in that series, while son Jordan is a factory Bentley endurance racer in Europe.

Today Iain runs a four-car Polo team through Pepper Racing with old mate Shane Mitchell — they run cars for Tasmin, Masters champion Shaun La Réservée and Junior Team drivers Daniel Duminy and Giordano Lupini. Iain also sponsors the Husqvarna Motorcycles Off Road team through his day job, Pepson Plastics, along with the responsibility of being the Motorsport South Africa Motocross Commission chair. 

Clearly spinning spanners, backing teams and taking care of race paperwork was not enough for Iain, who’s itchy fingers soon had him dusting off his helmet after Tasmin stepped back to the national Polo Cup following a season away in Iain’s Volkswagen regional VW Challenge Polo racer backed by Husqvarna Motorcycles and run by another of Iain's proteges, Lee Thompson. “We had the car and we needed to put someone behind the wheel, so I thought what the hell, why not me?” Iain admitted. “I was quite surprised to qualify and finish second in my first race back and it was great to put it on pole and win at Zwartkops last time out!”

But clearly racing a car again was still not enough — Iain had also started riding dirt bikes a year or two back and one thing led to another and he was soon sponsoring the Husqvarna Off Road squad. Before he knew it, Iain was back in the saddle and racing in the national championship too. All of which led to a mad June for the Midrand businessman who runs his plastics manufacturing operation out of Edenvale.

It started with a visit to the Nurburgring to support son Jordan in his 24-hour efforts, before jetting home to take care of his race team at Zwartkops, where Tasmin took a fine second overall and all four cars scored good championship points on Youth Day Friday. Then Iain put his Challenge car on pole position on Friday afternoon before going on to win the day on Saturday.

Then Iain headed for Botswana to fulfill that long-held dream of racing in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, where he not only finished on his first attempt at the gruelling epic, but he brought it home fifth in the Masters class on Saturday before going one better to end up fourth on the Saturday. “Yes, I’m a little buggered and sore, but I’m very happy with the result — my Husqvarna ran like a dream and I really enjoyed the challenge.”

His many commitments are telling on Iain however — there seems to be more to do than time to do it. “Maybe I need to let something go — to do all this is taking all my time so something may have to give, but until then, I’m enjoying every minute of all of it!”