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· Russell Sheldon
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2,846 Posts
Hi Jonny

Thanks for asking.

Warning to others: You will find this incredibly boring!

I guess that as with so many things in life, it boils down to nostalgia. I was born and brought up in Milnerton, a suburb of Cape Town, which in the picture above is about an inch north of the hairpin bend at the top, at the end of the long straight. As a youngster I used to cycle to Killarney to watch pretty much most of the club and national races.

South Africa used to have a national Formula One championship series, held from 1962 until 1975, and Killarney hosted two or three rounds each year. The F1 cars made a huge impact on me as a teenager, especially when compared to the family Ford Prefect!

The SA F1 series was dominated by John Love with a Cooper T55-Climax from 1964 (which was when I started going to Killarney, at the ripe old age of 11) until 1967. Love acquired Brabham's BT20-Repco after the 1967 SAGP (which Love almost won), and in 1968 the stakes were upped when big-spending sponsors came onto the scene, with the cars being bedecked in sponsor liveries, including cigarette brands such as Gunston, Lucky Strike and Lexington. In those days, if you had enough money, you could buy contemporary F1 cars and in 1968 Team Gunston bought Love a Lotus 49.

The period 1969 to 1975 saw local drivers competing in the national championship with cars such as the Lotus 49B/C, Brabham BT33, McLaren M7A, March 707 and 721, Surtees TS9, Lotus 72D/Es, Tyrrell 005 and 007, and McLaren M23, such as Charlton's, pictured below:-



In the early 1970s fields were bolstered by including Formula 5000 and F2 cars, running in separate classes, and we were often treated to guest drives by the likes of Jochen Mass, Brian Redman, Mike Hailwood and Peter Gethin.



From 1976, due to the spiralling costs of running F1 cars, the series switched to using Formula Atlantic chassis. The Formula Atlantic series ran for 10 years, until 1986, during which time the leading contenders were the likes of Ian Scheckter (Jody's brother), Tony Martin and Graham Duxbury (winners of the 1984 Daytona 24 Hour along with Sarel Van Der Merwe) and Wayne Taylor (a successful IMSA and WSPC driver who won the LMP1 class for Cadillac at Le Mans in 1998 and has also had a couple of wins at both Daytona and Sebring, as well as winning the IMSA series in 1994 and 1996).

Probably the most memorable of races was the Cape 3-Hour, a round of the end of season Springbok Series for "big banger" sports cars, held from 1966 to 1973 and which attracted most of the top 'works' sports protoype racing teams to the Kyalami 9-Hour, at least. The 'works' teams rarely came to Killarney but many of the top privateers competed in the full series.

I still have vivid memories of the race in 1967, with the Lola T70MkIIIs of Paul Hawkins and Mike de Udy, the Ford GT40s of David Prophet and Ed Nelson, the Lola T70 of Doug Serrurier (sponsored by Wall's ice-cream, with "stop me and buy one" painted across the back of the spoiler!), the Ferrari 330P3/P4 of David Piper and the Porsche 906 of Tony Dean. It was an epic battle between Hawkins and de Udy from start to finish.



Then there were the saloon car races, with the giant-killer Lotus Cortinas taking on the Ford Galaxies driven by Bobby Olthoff, Frank Gardner and Roy Pierpoint, avoiding the cold of the British winters by spending time in South Africa...

Sorry, I could go on and on….

Kind regards,

Russell
 
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