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Russell Sheldon
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Inspired by the VMG Lucky Strike Racing Lotus 72, I thought I'd post a brief history of the SA F1 series.


VMG Lotus 72

The South African National Formula One Championship series started in 1961, with a class for F5000 cars being included in 1968, the year that commercial sponsorship in motor racing in South Africa took off in a big way.

The Gunston Cigarette Company of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, introduced tobacco sponsorship to motor racing when they sponsored Rhodesian drivers John Love and Sam Tingle for the 1968 SA National Championship series. The first time Formula One cars appeared in a Grand Prix with cigarette sponsorship was the 1968 South African Grand Prix, where both John Love's Brabham BT20-Repco and Sam Tingle's LDS Mk3B wore Gunston livery. The next race of the 1968 F1 World Championship was the Spanish Grand Prix, the first time that Team Lotus cars entered a Grand Prix in Gold Leaf cigarette livery, although their cars had appeared in Gold Leaf colours during the 1968 Tasman Series, held after the SAGP, where Jim Clark and Graham Hill drove Lotus 49T's in Gold Leaf Team Lotus livery mid way through the series.


John Love, 1968 Brabham BT20 Repco

Gunston and multiple South African Champion John Love developed a long-standing relationship. Following the 1968 South African Grand Prix, Gunston bought the Lotus 49 driven by Graham Hill to 2nd place, and the Brabham BT24 Repco with which Jochen Rindt finished 3rd. In the SA national series for F1 and F5000 cars, Love campaigned the Lotus, winning the 1968 title, with Tingle finishing 3rd in the points with the Brabham, behind the Lola T140 F5000 car of Jackie Pretorius.


John Love, Lotus 49, 1968

South African saloon car driver Basil Van Rooyen got his first taste of single-seater racing when he competed in the 1968 South African Grand Prix, entered by John Love to drive the ageing Cooper Climax T79 (in which Love so nearly won the 1967 SAGP). For the 1968 SA national series Van Rooyen drove a STP sponsored Team Lawson Brabham BT24 Repco, winning the Natal Winter Trophy and finishing second in the Republic Trophy, Rand Winter Trophy and Rand Spring Trophy races.

For the 1969 season, Team Lawson obtained McLaren M7A/1 and Basil Van Rooyen promptly won the opening race of the series, the Cape South Easter Trophy at Killarney, as well as winning the Coronation "100" at Roy Hesketh.


Basil Van Rooyen, 1969 McLaren M7A

Team Lawson entered Van Rooyen in the 1969 SAGP, where he qualified 9th, just behind the works car of Bruce McLaren and ahead of Beltoise (Matra MS10), Siffert (Lotus 49B), Ickx (Brabham BT26) and the works BRM's of Oliver, Rodriguez and Surtees. He retired early in the race with brake problems.

In the SA series, Van Rooyen finished 2nd in the Rand Autumn Trophy at Kyalami to Love's Gunston Lotus 49, but unfortunately crashed heavily in practice for the Republic Trophy Races at Kyalami in May. It put an end to his season and practically finished his racing career. The McLaren M7A broke in half when it hit the crash barriers at over 150 mph, flinging Van Rooyen from the car when the seat belts broke. A deflated tyre or suspension failure was thought to be the cause of the crash. Love went on to win the 1969 title in his Lotus 49.


John Love, Lotus 49, 1969

Aldo Scribante, the owner of a construction company, was an ardent motor racing enthusiast who sponsored a number of South African drivers under his "Scuderia Scribante" banner, including a the Brabham BT11 campaigned by Dave Charlton from 1966 to 1969. For the 1970 season, Scribante bought Jo Bonnier's Lotus 49B (chassis number R8) and had it upgraded to 49C specifications, which Charlton used to good effect to win the SA National title from John Love that year. Charlton drove the car in the 1970 South African Grand Prix under the "Scuderia Scribante" banner, being classified 12th, although he failed to finish the race.


Dave Charlton, Lotus 49C, 1970. Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Following the 1970 SAGP, Charlton was able to secure sponsorship from South Africa's United Tobacco Company. Gunston was the main rival of United Tobacco's Lucky Strike cigarette brand and this saw the start of the "tobacco wars" in SA motor sport. Lucky Strike's entry into SA motor sport resulted in a long-term association with Charlton, his Lotus 49C first appearing in Lucky Strike colours at the Coronation "100" held on 30th March 1970. With the team renamed "Scribante Lucky Strike Racing", Charlton went on to win his first South African National Championship.


Dave Charlton, Lotus 49C, 1970.Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Midway through the 1970 season, Gunston obtained a brand new March 701 (chassis 701/10) for John Love, replacing the Lotus 49, and the Cosworth powered Brabham BT26A/1 campaigned in the 1969 Grand Prix season by Piers Courage, for Sam Tingle. After the first race of the season, Pieter de Klerk took over the Team Gunston seat from Tingle, who retired from racing. Love debuted the March 701 in the Bulawayo 100, which he won, but the car was plagued with problems, retiring from four of the five remaining races.


John Love, March 701.Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Love started the 1971 season with the March, which included an entry in that year's SAGP, but the car continued to prove unreliable. Despite beating Charlton's Lotus 49C in the Goldfields Autumn Trophy, Gunston decided to replace the March with a Surtees TS9, which was to be even less competitive than the March, in time for the Bulawayo 100.


John Love, Surtees TS9

Unfortunately, Love crashed the Surtees heavily just three races later in the 25th Anniversary Trophy race at Kyalami, the car wedging itself between the barriers at Clubhouse Corner after a tyre burst. Thereafter Team Gunston brought the March out of retirement and Love raced it right up to January 1972, winning the 1971 False Bay 100 and the 1971 Rhodesian Grand Prix. Jackie Pretorius took over Team Gunston's Brabham BT26 for 1971, beating Love to take 2nd place at the Bulawayo 100 and Republic Festival Trophy races, both of which were won by Charlton, and winning the Natal Winter Trophy race after Charlton retired from the lead.


Jackie Pretorius, Brabham BT26A

For the 1971 South African Grand Prix, Lucky Strike sponsored Charlton to drive a works Brabham BT33-Cosworth, alongside works driver Graham Hill. Despite out qualifying Hill (19th), Charlton (12th) was unable to raise the sponsorship for a full world championship season with Brabham but managed instead to persuade Lucky Strike to pay for a Lotus 72 for the remainder of the 1971 South African season.


Dave Charlton, Brabham BT33.Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Before bringing the Lotus 72 to South Africa, Charlton entered the 1971 Dutch and British GP's, under the Gold Leaf Team Lotus banner alongside regular GLTL drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Reine Wisell. The car was then shipped to South Africa, where it was painted in Lucky Strike livery and driven by Charlton to his second national title.


Dave Charlton, Lotus 72

Charlton kept the Lotus 72 for the 1972 season and went on to win his third SA national title. He also had a brief foray into Europe, entering the Lotus 72 in the French, British and German world championship rounds. He failed to qualify for the French Grand Prix but in the British Grand Prix, Charlton was competitive against the likes of Niki Lauda, before retiring with gearbox problems. Lucky Strike also sponsored South African national series driver Eddie Keizan's F5000 Surtees TS5A in 1972, when F5000 cars were included in the national series.


Eddie Keizan, Surtees TS5A. Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Although he drove the March 701 in the 1972 opening Cape South Easter race, Love's Team Gunston Surtees TS9 was rebuilt for the 1972 season, but after a DNF in the Highveld 100 and spinning out of the SAGP, he opted to drive the Team Gunston Brabham BT33 which had been acquired for Willie Ferguson, Jackie Pretorius having decided to drive a F5000 car instead. With two wins and four second places, Love finished 2nd to Charlton in the championship.

The 1973 championship series included a class for Formula 2 cars, along with the F1 and F5000 machinery. Team Gunston opted for a F2 Chevron B25 FVC for John Love, with Lucky Strike retaining the Lotus 72D for Charlton. Lucky Strike's involvement extended to sponsoring the ex-Jackie Stewart/Patrick Depailler Tyrrell 004 for Eddie Keizan, entered by Alex Blignaut, and a March 721 for Meyer Botha. Charlton went on to win his fourth SA title.


Eddie Keizan, Tyrrell 004, 1973. Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Driving the Lucky Strike Lotus 72 in the 1973 South African Grand Prix, Charlton was dicing closely with Clay Reggazoni (BRM) and Mike Hailwood (Surtees), when the three cars collided and crashed. Reggazoni lay unconscious in his burning car until Hailwood and Charlton rescued him from the blazing wreck, for which Hailwood was awarded the George Medal for Bravery by Her Majesty the Queen.

With John Love having retired, Team Gunston obtained the 1973 works Team Lotus 72's for Ian Scheckter, Jody's elder brother, and Paddy Driver for the 1974 season. Keizan's Tyrrell was painted in UTC's Embassy cigarette brand colours, while they obtained a McLaren M23 for Charlton to race in Lucky Strike colours.


Eddie Keizan, Tyrrell 004, 1974. Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken


Dave Charlton, McLaren M23. Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

The 1974 SAGP saw a strong contingent of South African privateers enter: Charlton in the McLaren M23, Keizan in the Tyrrell and Scheckter and Driver in the Gunston Lotus 72E's.


Ian Scheckter, Lotus 72E


Paddy Driver, Lotus 72E

Later in the season, Scheckter was able to obtain a drive with Hesketh in the 1974 Austrian Grand Prix, as team mate to James Hunt. However, he failed to qualify, while team leader Hunt managed 3rd. Charlton won his fifth successive SA national title in 1974.

For 1975 Alex Blignaut obtained Tyrrell 007/1, Jody Scheckter's ex-works car, which was sponsored by Lexington cigarettes for Ian Scheckter. Scheckter recorded a string of victories in the SA national series that year, but Charlton's more consistent finishes saw him clinch his 6th successive title with the Lucky Strike McLaren M23.


Ian Scheckter, Tyrrell 007

The 1975 SAGP saw entries from Lucky Strike Racing (Dave Charlton, McLaren M23), Lexington Racing (Ian Scheckter, Tyrrell 007) and Team Gunston (Eddie Keizan, Lotus 72D and Guy Tunmer, Lotus 72D).


Eddie Keizan, Lotus 72D, 1974.Photo courtesy of Dieter Rencken

In the World Championship series, Ian Scheckter had two one-off drives with Williams in 1975, in the Swedish and Dutch GPs, crashing the Williams FW01 in the Swedish race and finishing 12th at Zandvoort, 5 laps behind race winner James Hunt's Hesketh.

Due to spiralling costs, the SA national championship series switched to Formula Atlantic cars for 1976. Adapting well to the less powerful Formula Atlantic machinery, the 1976 season was the beginning of Ian Scheckter's reign as the South African Drivers Champion.

The Formula Atlantic series ran for 10 years, during which time the leading contenders, aside from Ian Scheckter, included Tony Martin and Graham Duxbury (winners of the 1984 Daytona 24 Hours 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 won at Daytona and Sebring, as well as winning the IMSA series in 1994 and 1996).

Mention should be made of Ian Scheckter's period as a March works driver in 1977, during which he drove a March 761B with sponsorship from Rothmans International. March entered Ian Scheckter in 14 GPs that year but he only finished in three, his best placing being 11th in the Spanish GP.


Ian Scheckter, March 761B

In 1977 March built the 6-wheel 240 car (two wheel steering, four wheel drive, zero differential), which had four wheels at the rear. Scheckter practiced the 240/771 for the 1977 Brazilian GP, the only time it appeared in six-wheel trim at a GP meeting. After further testing, both Ian Scheckter and Alex-Dias Riberio felt that there was nothing to be gained from the twin rear wheels and the car was converted to four wheels, being raced at the end of the season as the 771.


Ian Scheckter, March 240

At the end of the year March pulled out of Grand Prix racing; the car was sold to British Hill Climb specialist Roy Lane, who asked for the car to be re-built in its original 6 wheel form. Lane promptly won the opening two rounds of the British Hill Climb Championship in the 240. Nevertheless, like Scheckter, Lane didn't think the six wheels gave him any real advantage; it was soon put back to four and went on to win the British Hill Climb Championship.
 

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Thank you Russell for the fascinating and comprehensive history of the SA F1 series. I knew a little about it but you've filled in all the (large) gaps in my knowledge.

There are some great colour schemes on otherwise familiar F1 cars for the scratchbuilder to get their teeth into - one day I will build the Team Lawson McLaren.

Thanks again for the article.

David
 

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Alan Paterson
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Hi Guys,

agreed, Russell, awesome article, and excellent Pics as well... It's nice to be able to look at cars cornering and know they're going into clubhouse, or through Leeukop.. Nice 4 wheel drift as well..

I sometimes catch myself sitting and trying hard to remember that far back.. actually being there, and seeing them..

I'd have to say, if space wasn't an issue, I'd build a miniture of the old, REAL Kyalami.. What a straight, what speeds, I remember walking down toward Crowthorne and the HOWL of the cars as they used to come by.. Remember the Matra's???


Best Regards

Al
 

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Russell Sheldon
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Jody Scheckter: 1979 World Champion

Anything written about South African F1 racing would not be complete without mention of Jody Scheckter, South Africa's only Formula One World Champion. Scheckter began his career in go-karts at the age of twelve, moving onto motorbikes and then saloon cars at eighteen. Campaigning in a Renault R8, he recorded numerous class wins until his racing had to be put on hold as he was called up for national service.

In 1971 he competed in the SA Formula Ford "Sunshine Series", which he won driving a Lola T200. Scheckter's prize was the "South African Driver to Europe" award and later in 1971 he found himself in England. In a short Formula Ford career he spun away potential race wins away and gained a reputation as being wild. The same year he moved onto Formula 3 with an uncompetitive EMC but impressed sufficiently to be offered a works Merlyn drive.

By the end of 1971 he was winning regularly and was noticed by McLaren, who signed him up for a Formula 2 season in 1972.


McLaren M21, 1972

Despite promising outings the Formula 2 McLaren was unreliable and Scheckter's only win was the Greater London Trophy at Crystal Palace. McLaren offered him his Grand Prix debut at the final race in 1972, the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, where he finished ninth.


McLaren M19A, 1972 USGP

In 1973 McLaren's F1 drivers were Denny Hulme and Peter Revson, with Scheckter being given an occasional third car to drive in selected races. Although always fast in qualifying, his five race Grand Prix season were a series of mishaps and accidents, the most remarkable being a spin on the second lap of the British GP in which he wiped out half the field, fortunately without serious injury to anyone.

In complete contrast to his Grand Prix season, he won the L&M F5000 Championship in the USA driving a Sid Taylor-entered Trojan.


1973 L&M F5000 Championship winning Trojan

He also competed successfully in the Can-Am series, driving a mighty Porsche 917K Turbo.


Can Am Porsche 917/10 Turbo

In 1974, he was signed on by Ken Tyrrell, following Jackie Stewart's retirement, where he achieved his first two Grand Prix victories at Sweden and Britain, taking a well deserved third place in the World Championship.


1974 SAGP, Tyrrell 006

The 1975 season was less successful, his only victory being at home in that year's South African Grand Prix.


1975 SAGP, Tyrrell 007

Jody and teammate Patrick Depailler were given the Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler for the 1976 season. Scheckter was never keen on the car although he did score the P34's only victory, the Swedish Grand Prix. Throughout the season he managed consistent placings, once again finishing third in the championship.


1976 Tyrrell P34

With Tyrrell intent on running the P34 for the 1977 season, Scheckter decided to move to the new Wolf team, winning first time out in Argentina. Victory at Monaco and Canada, along with three other top finishes, gave him second in the championship to Niki Lauda.


1977 Monaco, Wolf WR1

The 1978 Wolf was not a good car and proved unreliable, Scheckter having a spate of retirements. He nevertheless managed to finish 2nd in the German Grand Prix and 3rd in the British Grand Prix.


1978 Wolf WR5

With an offer from Ferrari for 1979, Jody could achieve his ambition. Although a non-starter in the first race at Argentina and tyre trouble at Watkins Glen, over thirteen races he scored three wins, three seconds, four fourths, one fifth, one sixth and one seventh place to win the championship in style, with victory at Monza in a Ferrari.


1979 Ferrari 312T3

The 1980 Ferrari was not a successful car, with even teammate Gilles Villeneuve seemingly incapable of getting the car to perform properly. Eventually Scheckter announced his retirement and left to start a new life in America, outside motor racing.



From 109 Grand Prix starts, Jody Scheckter scored 10 victories, 3 poles, 5 fastest laps and one World Champion title.

Kind regards,

Russell
 

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Brian Ferguson
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Great stuff, Russell! Thanks for this!


I am somewhat familiar with the Scheckter/Villeneuve days at Ferrari, and Jody was also a favourite of mine, because like Villeneuve, he made every effort to squeeze the maximum performance from even the worst car. Although the two drivers had very different off-track personalities, they respected each other greatly and they were friends, and Jody had a similar spirit to Gilles.... I always enjoyed watching Scheckter race!
 

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As you know it doesn't take much of an excuse for me to raid the photo album. I watched Jody race throughout most of the 70s and here is a selection of some of the photos I took at various British GP's


Paddock Hill Bend, Brands Hatch 1974


Braking for Druids Hill Bend, Brands Hatch 1976


Westfield, Brands Hatch 1977


Druids, Brands Hatch 1978


Dingle Dell, Brands Hatch 1980

The most recent photo I took of Jody was with my better half in the paddock during one of Jody's sons race meetings about five years ago but I'll spare her blushes by not posting it here.

David
 

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Dennis Samson
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Thanks Russell for all the fascinating info and great pictures.

I can remember sitting at Kyalami watching many of those early F1 races, but one particular race that involved Jody comes to mind and it wasn't an F1 race. Jody and Scamp Porter ran Renult R8 Gordini's in the Production Saloon races of the time, and I distinctly remember a monstrous duel between the two of them, compounded by a moving chicane in the form of an old Mustang driven by Fred Cowell. The 'tang was massively quick down that long Kyalami straight, but the Renaults were so much better under brakes and in the turns that they quickly caught up and had to try to get by each lap, all the while trying to beat each other in the process. Each lap they got by the Mustang a little earlier in the lap until eventually they could stay ahead for the whole way round, but the sight of those three cars going up the hill to the Leeuwkop corner line astern and the Renaults physically "leaning" on the Mustang through the corner will remain as a fond memory of those days.
 

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Alan Tadd
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Russell

This is fabulous, I had no idea about the rich history of this type of racing in South Africa.

Regards

Alan
 

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Russell Sheldon
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It occurred to me that Jody and Ian Scheckter are probably the only two brothers in the world who can ever claim to have both driven 6-wheel F1 cars; Jody the P34 and Ian the 2-4-0.

Fergy, the SA - Canadian link is quite a coincidence. Jody of course drove for Canadian multi-millionaire Walter Wolf in 1977 and 1978, winning the Canadian GP in 1977. And at the Lucky Strike reunion meeting a few years ago, Jacques Villeneuve drove Dave Charlton's Lotus 72 for a couple of laps, thoroughly enjoying the experience:-


Photo: Dieter Rencken

Also, like Jody, Gilles had an intense dislike for the 6-wheel Tyrrell P34, as can be seen from this picture of him attacking it:-



Unfortunately, he came worse off....



Fortunately for Jody, by the time he went to Ferrari they had given up on their plans for a 6-wheeler. They had built a six-wheel version of the 312T2 in 1976; the "T6" had twin rear wheels on the same axle, like the pre-war Auto Union hill climb car, or the Raymond Mays ERA hill climber. Ferrari reckoned that the thinking about the Tyrrell and reduced frontal area was correct, but unlike Tyrrell they didn't agree that frontal area was the first point of air-penetration, they reckoned it was everything you could see from the front, including the visible front area of the huge rear tyres. So they reduced this by fitting four normal front wheels in-line and on a single rear axle.

Both Lauda and Regazzoni drove the T6 quite a bit in testing and Lauda was actually quite happy with the car and at one point considered racing it as the championship was looking to go his way and therefore Ferrari could afford some time developing it under race conditions. Lauda's accident in Germany put paid to that idea and also the notion that the car may run at the Italian GP.

Brilliant pictures as usual, David! I just love it when you go rummaging through your photo archive! I particularly like the photo taken at Brands Hatch in 1980.

Here's a photo of Jody in the McLaren M23 at the British GP at Silverstone in 1973:-



Moments later, it was mayhem, with Jody losing control at Woodcote and wiping out almost half the field, fortunately without any serious injuries to anyone involved.



Dennis, I certainly remember Jody's exploits in the Renault R8. Here is a picture of Fred Cowell's Mustang, which he used to lean against in the race you described -- something like hanging the tail against the barriers on the outer lane of a Scalextric track!


Photo: Courtesy of Dieter Rencken

Alan, yes, South Africa was rather unique in having a current F1 series. Can you imagine calling Ron Dennis today and asking him to sell you a car! With the obvious benefit of having a home track advantage, the South African drivers very often out qualified and even beat the factory entered cars in the SA GP.

Probably the two least known but most successful South Africans involved in F1 are Gordon Murray, who used to design both Brabham and McLaren cars, and who was responsible for the McLaren F1 GTR sports car, and current Ferrari F1 designer Rory Byrne. Ever since Byrne joined the Scuderia from Benetton in 1997, he has played a major role in bringing them success. He certainly has come a long way since his first creation, the 1982 F1 Toleman.

In 1986, when Toleman were bought out and renamed Benetton, Byrne continued to design top class F1 cars, before leaving to take on a new role designing Reynard's F1 chassis. When the Reynard F1 effort failed to get off the ground, he returned to Benetton and designed a car that gave Michael Schumacher back to back World Titles in 1994 and 1995.

When Schumacher left Benetton to join Ferrari, Byrne was enticed to follow. His first Ferrari F1 chassis design was the 1998 car, which took Schumacher oh so close to the driver's title. Byrne's 1999 design, the F399, gave Ferrari the Constructor's Championship, despite Schumacher being sidelined by his accident in the British GP and his F1-2000 took all the honours the next year, with Ferrari winning the constructor's title and Michael Schumacher winning the drivers title.

Byrne's F2001 was all-conquering, giving Schumacher and Ferrari another double world title, and his F2002 took all the honours again the next year, with Schumacher and Barrichello winning 15 of the 17 GPs. Last year's F2003-GA again brought double world titles for the Scuderia and Byrne's latest creation, the F2004, again brought Ferrari a double world title.

Here are some pictures of two other South African home-grown specials:-





Kind regards

Russell
 

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Russell, terrific pictures and wonderful information.

Like Australia, South Africa has a wonderful motorsport heritage thats virtually unknown in the rest of the World

Thanks again for the great info on something i knew very little about

regards
Ken
 

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Brilliant story Russell
I grew up down in the Cape and visited Killarney many a times, and remember the thunderous roar when the John McNicol F5000 used to come past. I scanned a few old slides from the era, and will forward these to anyone who wants it.

Also check on my website http://acsrudi.users.lantic.net/ for some info on the Springbok Series for sportscars. Most of the info was obtained from the net, together with some photos.

Any additional pictures will be welcomed.

PS Can anyone remember the colour scheme of the Frank Gardner Mustang raced in the series in 1970?

Regards
Rudi
 

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Russell Sheldon
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Welcome to SlotForum, Rudi! Great to have you here!

Rudi kindly sent me the following pictures which he took at Killarney in 1974:-

Dave Charlton, McLaren M23



Guy Tunmer (?), Lotus 72E



Here are a couple of pictures from the Springbok Series, courtesy of Dieter Rencken:-









Rudi, here is some information on Frank Gardner's Boss 702 Mustang.

Kind regards,

Russell
 

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Great panning shots Rudi, the nose dramaticly dipping under braking and nice impression of speed. I would love to see more of your album.

David
 

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I've come late to this thread, but thanks Russell and everyone! It's fantastic. You want to wrap it up and send it to MotorSport for publication, Russell? It's wonderful!

The thought occurs, just on the point that frontal area was the issue- Logically Ian and Jody should have mated their two cars and run an eight wheeler- twice as daft and twice the fun. Maybe I should build a slot version.....
 

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Does much motor racing go on in South Africa these days.
What of the old circuits used for the Springbok series, are any of them still in use?
 

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Russell Sheldon
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi Pushrod,

I haven't lived in South Africa for a number of years but I believe that motor racing is still pretty active there. Circuits currently being used are Kyalami, East London, Killarney, Phakisa (Goldfields, Free State), Zwartkops, Aldo Scribante (Port Elizabeth) and Wesbank Raceway.

Phakisa hosts the SA round of MotoGP World Championship. Wesbank Raceway started out as a horse racing track known as Gosforth Park in Germiston, Gauteng. With changes to the South African lifestyle and the gambling industry, horse racing lost support and attendance to race meetings dwindled. Gosforth Park was closed and later sold to Peter Lindenberg, 15 times SA Formula 1 Powerboat champion, in 2000. Facilities include; a SASCAR large oval, a small oval, road racing circuit, drag strip, skid pan, track for 4x4s and quad bikes, track for motorcross, etc. Non-racing facilities, include; VIP catering, conference facilities, motor museum, children's mini town, automotive shops, showrooms, Netcare 911 hospital, garage and workshop, motor sport club and offices, to name but a few.

Kyalami was originally built in 1961 as a 2.544 mile track 16 miles north of Johannesburg. The track was widened and resurfaced in 1968, the length being marginally extended to 2.55 miles.

When some of the F1 teams boycotted the track in 1985, the circuit was heavily revised and rebuilt, using only part of the previous track. Kyalami was recently sold for $7.1m to a consortium of businessmen and property developers. One of the partners is the Imperial Group, a listed company involved in tourism, transportation, the motor trade, leasing, finance and property. The group also includes motorcycle champions Mike Fogg and Jim Redman, and Dave McGregor, a man who has played an important role in motor racing in South Africa for many years.

The track was previously owned by the Automobile Association of South Africa, which acquired the venue 11 years ago after financial problems surrounding the South Africa Grand Prix resulted in the collapse of the company which owned the circuit.

Here's a plan for a Scalextric layout of Kyalami:-



Kind regards,

Russell
 

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Hi Russell..
I've just browsed through all the great pics you sent out and the info..and maybe you're a prayer answered? 8)
In 1962 I travelled from Witbank to Kyalami to watch the Rand Grand Prix. I had seen a pic of Gary Hocking on his MV Augusta in The Star newspaper and thought I'd drop him a line if I could get a hold of his address. I wrote the Motor Editor of The Star and was amazed when, a couple weeks later, I received a brown envelope containing two beautiful pics of Gary H..one of them where he posed with his folks after winning the TT and the other of him riding his famous m'cycle. Also a note from the editor and Gary's address in Bulawayo ( I think it was Queens Park if my memory serves me well)
I promptly wrote Gary and not long after that I received a three page letter from him. I had said I was trying to get to the Rand Grand Prix to watch him race and he said I should try to get to meet him if I got there.
My dad was very impressed with the letter and decided to take us to Kyalami. He WAS impressed because he hated driving anywhere near a city.
We got to sit in the Grandstand and just before the big race my Bro and I crossed the Dunlop Bridge and came to the Paddock. To my great disappointment we were told we could go no further as we had no pass. After some headbanging and me showing the official my letter..we were allowed in. BUT we never got further than that because we had no passes for the Pits. I did show the official there my letter and he was undecided what to do with us and maybe was considering going to tell Gary that a rather cheeky person wanted to speak to him..but then he saw that the race was about to start and that let him off the hook. I couldn't wait there as I was afraid I would lose my folks in the crowd and my Bro had no intentions of hanging around..so we went back to our seats and just made it to watch the start.
Gary..no 6..came 4th and I could watch him ever so closely with my good binoculars when he came in. It was like I could put out my hand and touch him.
I had intended to answer his letter after the race in East London so you can imagine my shock and disbelief when I heard that he had crashed at Westmead and died of head injuries.

His death affected me for a long time and I put away my pics and letter in a drawer at home and, when my folks left that house they must have got lost or thrown away. I have never found them.

I am making a webpage with my story and was hoping you may have a picture taken during that race that you would allow me to use.

In Hope..vladd77
 

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Russell Sheldon
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Hi Vladd77,

Welcome to SlotForum!

What a wonderful story. There was a short article in the April 2005 issue of Motor Sport magazine about Gary Hocking. Amongst his achievements was a brief but successful TT career. In 1960 he won the Lightweight TT race riding a MV Augusta and in 1962 he won the Senior Race.

He retired from bike racing when his close friend Tom Phillis was killed and switched very successfully to car racing. Driving a Lotus-Climax 24 he won the 1962 Rand Spring Trophy, the Total Cup and Rhodesian GP. As you mentioned, he finished 4th in the 1962 Rand Grand Prix but was tragically killed during practice for the 1962 Natal GP. In the last practice session the Lotus went straight on at a fast bend and somersaulted into a ditch. Sadly, he died of head injuries on his way to hospital.

I'll take a look and see if I can find any pictures for you.

With kind regards,

Russell
 
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