Summarize

SA race heroes of the past keep crowd rapt in the rain

Wet and rainy weather did not prevent red hot international historic racing from thrilling a Zwartkops Raceway crowd that came out in spite of the conditions to witness the legends of South African motorsport in action at the 17th Passion For Speed races on Saturday. They should have all gone home pleased however, following a thrilling day where albeit balder, greyer and more wrinkled, yesterday’s heroes delivered vivid halcyon racing memories and splendid on track action.

The greatest race cars of the past may well have been billed as the highlight of an epic day of the races, but it was among South Africa’s legendary saloon car drivers of yore who really had the crowd up on their feet through the rain in the various tin-top classes, with the changing conditions providing very different results in the second races. 

Long-time rivals Peter Lindenberg (Lindenberg Racing 1965 Ford Mustang) and ‘Supervan’ Sarel van der Merwe driving a ’65 Trans Africa Racing Smokey Yunnick Chevelle fought it out for wet SKF Pre’1966 Legends of the 9 Hour first race honours under the watchful eye of Mark du Toit’s Trans Africa 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, Clive Densham’s indecently quick 1965 Alfa GT and Polo Cup racer Jeff Kruger’s Trans Africa Plymouth Barracuda despite an early spin. Another SA race legend, Mike O’Sullivan won a 1965 Ford Mustang wrought slightly further back against Dutchmen Francesco van Maarschalkerwaart and Armand Adriaans in a tussle with local lad Jonathan du Toit’s Chevy Nova and UK visitor Mike Knight in a 1967 Chev Camaro.

The second race proved a horse of another colour as Jeff Kruger drove the yellow Barracuda to victory over Dutch visitor Michiel Campagne's 1964 Ford Galaxie, Jonathan du Toit, van der Merwe, Mark du Toit, Knight and then Ben Morgenrood, Briton Craig Davies Lindenberg's Ford Mustangs, Densham, van Maarschalkerwaart and Adriaans.

Former multiple SA tin-top race champion Mike Briggs was reunited with the very East Coast Classics-restored factory Opel Superboss he raced to the 1990 Stannic Group N championship and he went on to win the first race of the Marlboro Crane Hire Historic Saloon race. That was however not without the attentions of one of the darlings of SA racing, Cindy Evans-Finney and her 1963 Motorhall/CoreMore Renault R8.

Cindi rekindled magical memories of 9-hour giant killing acts when cars just like hers passed the mightiest sports cars on earth through thunderstorms during the races. Race 2 proved a big one for Francois Jacobs however, when he drove his 1974 Datsun 1200 GX to take Briggs' scalp ahead of Hennie van der Merwe's 1972 Ford Escort, Jared Thomson's 1979 Ford Cortina and Peder Jensen in another Datsun 1200 GX.

Cape Town visitor Franco Donadio took the first Marlboro Crane Hire Pre-’80 Historic Saloon race in his rapid 1974 Ford Escort, but not without the due attention of yet more SA race legends back at each other’s necks as Robbi Smith reunited with his 1991 Group N BMW 325 Shadowline took on Roddy Turner aboard his contemporary Opel Kadett Superboss. Donadio lead Smith to the race 2 win ahead of Alfa Romeo GTV duo Bjorn Gebert and 
Craig Kidgell's Glenwood Motors version, while classic Group N men Jason Campos' BMW 328i Shadowline and George Economides Opel Kadett Superboss sandwiched sixth placed Gerhard Henning's 1974 VW Scirocco.

And if old race heroes in legendary old race cars were not enough, several top drivers of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s were let loose in a field of stock standard Volkswagen Motorsport Polo Vivos, where Mike Briggs emerged top dog ahead of Sarel van der Merwe (who has at least 20 years on most of his 50-year old rivals), Chris Aberdein and another trio of men chasing their 80s — Ben Morgenrood, Geoff Mortimer and Willie Hepburn, ahead of another relative youngster in Deon Joubert.

Talking legends, the Liqui Moly Ferrari Challenge delivered another star-studded grid, but it was local hero Jonathan du Toit who emerged triumphant aboard his 430 Challenge ahead of Jaki Scheckter’s F430 GT3. One-time arch rival multiple SA champions Sarel vd Merwe and Ian Scheckter’s 360s meanwhile entertained with multiple Kyalami 9-Hour winner David Piper in a 250 GTM tribute.

The wet conditions saw some giant killing antics in the opening International Single Seater race, where Keegan Ward’s more contemporary Formula Ford Royale put one over Stuart Greig’s Bayliss Broke 1961 Lotus 22 and UK visitor Richard Wilson’s ’64 Lotus 27 F1 machines. Shannon Winterstein’s WH Auctioners Palliser was another machine to star against British visitors Richard Smeeton in a Wainer Formula Junior and Iain Rowley’s Lotus, Wihan Tiedt’s and Robbie Franks’ Lotus 23 Bs and Jan Jacobs Formula V. Greig restored the status quo in race 2 ahead of Wilson, Chris Clarke’s 1968 Titan MK4 Formula Ford,  Smeeton, and two more Formula Ford runners, Pat Dunseith’s Alexis and Richard Baker’s Titan.

Franco Scribante dominated the Pre-1974 International Sports Racing Prototype race in his glorious 1970 Chevron B19 ahead of Andre Bezuidenhout’s brutal Weltevreden Estate 1974 Porsche RSR Turbo, Jonathan du Toit’s nimble Trans Africa ’68 Chevron B8 and Larry Wilford’s Genie Racing 1970 Lola T70, with brothers Keegan (1969 Porsche 911 RSR) and Jason Campos (1966 Ford GT40) next up. British visitor Donald Duncan followed in a 1964 McLaren M1C, ahead of Swedes, Kennet Persson’s Ford GT40, Kent Olof Abrahamsson in a Chevron B19 and Robert Enestedt in another Ford GT40.

Capetonian Steve Humble then took it to Scribante and won the second race in his 1974 Mallock M14B ahead of Bezuidenhout, Jason and Keegan Campos and Swedish Lola T212 duo Robert Brooks and Andersson Bernt, with Jonathan du Toit next up.

Zwartkops brothers Mark and Jonathan du Toit then teamed up in Trans Africa Racing’s Bailey Doug Serrurier/Jackie Pretorius tribute Walls Ice Cream Lola T70 Spyder to come up trumps in the centrepiece 45-minute TT race ahead of Duncan’s Pepboys Automotive McLaren, Warren Lombard’s Cobra, Josh Dovey’s giant-killing ’65 Ginetta GTR, Brit Craig Davies’ Shelby Mustang and dad and daughter Peter and Paige Lindenberg’s Shelby Daytona.

Alan Poulter (Tom Campher 1965 Volvo 122s) and Trevor Tuck (Pharmashop 24 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta) put on a splendid show up front in the SKF Pre’1966 Legends of the 9 Hour Production Cars ahead of Vic Campher (1965 Volvo 122s) and brothers Patrick (1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super) and Rob Gearing (1965 BMW 2000 Ti). The second race run behind the thundering V8s saw Campher coming to the fore to beat Rob Gearing, Alan Poulter, Carel Pienaar's Lotus Cortina, the Leuthardt Anglia, Tuck and Patrick Gearing.

Another lady driver, Robyn Kruger came from the back of the grid to win by 18 seconds after missing qualifying in her 1958 GSM Dart to win the first SKF Little Giants race from Franco Resca (1966 MGB GT), Dion Valentine (1970 Leyland Mini), Robin Clarke  pedalling the Piri Piri Racing 1958 MG Magnette in style and Chad Ten Doeschate in Trans Africa Racing’s 1958 Nash Metropolitan. Valentine then pulled off a classic giant-killing second race win in the Mini ahead of British visitor Chris O'Neill's 61 Jaguar E-Type, Wynand du Plessis' 1965 MGB GT Josh Dovey's Austin Healey Sprite, Ishmael Baloyi's GSM Dart and Keith van Heerden in a 1955 D-Type Jaguar.

Robyn’s brother Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Health Care) meanwhile kept his side of the family trophy cabinet on equal footing by taking the win in the Leet Lotus Challenge for a motley collection of Sevens powered by all forms of engines ahead of Rob Gearing, Thomas Falkiner and Jeff Gable in both races, while Andre Human and Roland Hopkins shared the Class L wins.

Contemporary race fans were entertained by the G&H Extreme Supercars, where Charl Arangies pedalled his ultra-fast Stradale Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to victory over Cape visitor Marcel Angel’s Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458 GT and  Jonathan du Toit (Trans Africa Ferrari 430 Challenge). Deon du Plessis took Class B in his BPT KTM X-Bow RR, Ant Blunden won Class C in his Stradale Porsche 997 GT3 Cup and Johan Hattingh Class D in a Nissan 350Z. Arangies also took race 2 from Angel while du Plessis turned the tables on du Toit for third, with the class wins also repeated. 

In all, the 17th Zwartkops Passion of Speed was a great success in spite of less than ideal conditions with a happy crowd treated to wonderful racing throughout the day. The second round of the Passion for Speed Double Header happens at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town Saturday 3 February.