Passion of Speed will celebrate legendary men & machines
Gauteng race fans are in for a time warp treat over the weekend of 27 and 28 January when the Zwartkops Raceway presents its glorious 17th Passion of Speed races for cars on Saturday and Day of the Champion motorcycles on Sunday. And not only will the weekend of wheels boast a race program brim full of international and local two and four-wheeled machinery that has kept local race enthusiasts rapt for well over half a century, but several of the greatest names in racing will take to the track in a once-off winner takes all bash.
Saturday’s four-wheeler action will probably see South African racing legends of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s; Sarel van der Merwe, Geoff Mortimer, Willie Hepburn, Ben Morgenrood, Michael Briggs, Chris Aberdein and Deon Joubert and an as yet unidentified eighth driver, who will only be named after the race, stealing the show. They will race each other over eight laps in a fleet of identical new Volkswagen Motorsport Polo Vivos, with each driver drawing his cars’ key out of a hat.
Stealing the show will be no mean feat however as there’s a full program featuring the finest cars ever raced in Africa back in action at the Pretoria circuit. Magnificent machinery like a trio of Porsche 917s — Le Mans winners once considered too lethal to drive — will recall the days when the bravest of the brave; Pedro Rodrigues, Jo Siffert, Brian Redman, David Piper and Dickie Attwood tamed the monster at Kyalami and around the world. Rui Campos and Terry Wilford will race a pair of 917 tributes in Zwartkops’ International Sportscar races next weekend.
They will take on a brace of GT40s — the car that Ford built to beat Ferrari — including Swedish entries Kling and Persson, and locals Dalais and Scribante; Lolas including superb T70 V8s and T212s that once took on Chevrons for 2-litre honours in the old Kyalami 9 hour. Examples of all of those and more will all race among a full field of cars driven by Swedes, Englishmen and several South Africans to recall the glory days of the 9-hour and other ‘70s sportscar races.
Shelby is another brand set to star at Zwartkops, with local and international drivers out in a selection of Cobras, Daytona Coupes and Mustangs harking back to the days when Olthoff, Gardner and Sears took on the best from Ferrari. Peter and Paige Lindenberg, Chad Ten Doeschate and Eddy Perk and Djurk Venter’s Daytonas, Warren Lombard and Alan Garrow’s Cobras and Thomas Falkiner and two Dutch Shelby Mustangs will take British racers Donald Duncan’s McLaren M1, Chris O’Neill and Richard Wilson’s Jaguar E Types and those Swedish GT 40s among several strong South African entries in the Pre’1966/68 Le Mans Sports & GT race and 45 minute SA TT.
The Pre ’74 Historic Single Seater races will celebrate South Africa’s proud open-wheeler legend with a broad variety of cars from ‘fifties specials through Formula Vees and Fords to Formula 1 machinery that raced in both the Grand Prix World Championship and the South African Drivers Championship. Allan Bailie’s Lotus 24 for example, is the same car raced by world champion Jack Brabham in the world championship before SA champion Syd van der Vyfer brought it in to race here.
Several other notable F1 cars will also race at Zwartkops on Saturday, including British visitors Andrew Wareing’s BRM P261, Richard Wilson in a Lotus 27 and Jim Timms’ Cooper T59, while Pat Dunseith will drive Peter de Klerk’s homegrown 1962 Alfa Special that beat them all at Kyalami’s Rand Grand Prix. Formula Ford will be well represented by a variety of Lotus, Dulons, Titans, Merlyns, van Diemens and the SA home grown Tempest among others and older fans will remember the likes of the Palliser, Bolzup and Gecko Vees…
Getting back to more conventional sports cars, a unique Ferrari-only race will see legendary multiple 9-hour winner David Piper back in a racecar to take on the likes of Supervan Sarel van der Merwe, multiple SA drivers champion Ian Scheckter, his son Jaki and Mark and Jonathan du Toit.
And talking Legends, there will be three historic saloon car races to keep tin-top fans happy, notably the SKF Pre-’66 Legends where the busy Sarel vd Merwe will race a monster Ford Galaxie against Ford Mustang duo Ben Morgenrood and Peter Lindenberg, Hennie Groenewald’s Ford Comet, Jeff Kruger in a Plymouth Barracuda, Lee Thompson’s Chevelle and Mark and Jono du Toit’s Chevrolets. They will take on Dutch drivers Campagne in another Mustang and van Maarschalkerwaart’s Galaxie ahead of a swarm of smaller but very quick Alfa Romeos, Volvos, Fords and BMWs.
The Marlboro Crane Hire Classic Saloons have also attracted a legendary field including the likes of Mike Briggs back in a Group N Opel Superboss against old rival Robbi Smith’s BMW Shadowline, Sarel vd Merwe in a Chevy Can-AM and Mike O’Sullivan’s Chevrolet SS among a field of Mazda Rotaries, Datsuns, Fords, Fiats, Alfa Romeos and more.
A similar field of ‘70s and ‘80s cars will also race in the Charlies Superspar Historic Pursuit, FGH and Midvaal Historic races, while the SKF Pre-66 Little Giants Sports and GT race looks a bit further back to a time where earlier Alfas, Fords and Volvos competed with Darts, MGs and Porsches. There are also races for the Leet Lotus Challenge for lightweight Sevens.
Last but not least on four wheels, modern car race fans will have the opening round of the 2018 G&H Extreme Supercars series to keep them entertained on Saturday, where Charl Arangies’ Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will take on the Ferraris of Marcel Angel, Kishoor Pitamber, Jimmy Giannoccaro, Mark and Jonathan du Toit, Franco and Dino Scribante’s Porsches and Jonathan Shenkman’s Lamborghini in a full field comprising all sorts of exquisite machinery.
But thats not all — the racing continues on two wheels on Sunday, headlined by a South Africa vs England classic Superbike race where six South Africans take on six English riders in the Day of the Champion Cup. The British team is headed up by no less that Michael Dunlop leading a team comprising Alan Duffus, Robert Burns, Mike Alborough, Bry Bayes, Carl Tiffany, Gordon Grigor, Ian Simpson, Iain MacPherson and Howard Selby.
The South African team in this pot roast versus biltong affair includes Noel Haarhoff, Roland Alborough, Iain Pinkerton, Adrian Gibbon, Leon van der Berg, Mike McSkimming, Jonathan Pells, Fergal McAdam, Douw Coetzee, Timothy Romans, Gary Hunter and Etienne Louw all riding a variety of classic superbikes that kept fans on their feet for many a year at circuits all around South Africa.
Sunday’s bike action includes a classic motorcycle demonstration, with one time SA MotoGP hero Dave Peterson riding the ex-Kenny Roberts, Proton among a field of classic racing Hondas, Suzukis and Kawasakis and a rare Seeley Triumph 650cc. Sunday will also see regular Zwartkops races for Bridgestone Challenge, Thunderbike and Sub 10 motorcycles and a full grid of Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters starting their 2018 season.
The high octane centrepiece of South African historic motorsport, the 17th Passion of Speed runs from Friday 26 January to Sunday 28 January at Zwartkops to celebrate racing from the days of James Dean and the go, go, go generation through great racing cars of and highest technology of almost every age in a weekend-long celebration of breathtaking motorsport.
The racing will be backed by a broad selection of off track family entertainment — tickets can be bought via www.itickets.co.za or direct from the office at Zwartkops Raceway at R210 for adults or R140 for students for the full weekend, or R190 per Adult and R120 per day with kids under 12 free