Event date: 8 February 2014 | Words: Alex Finlay | Photos: RaceMasteR J & Otis J. Gore | Location: Killarney Race Track.


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A few weeks ago I was quite surprised to find a flyer advertising the Passion for Speed event while at Zone 7. I was quite thrilled to see the reintroduction of the classic motor racing after the event took a one year hiatus in 2013, where the event sadly only occurred up country, leading to quite a few disappointed classic car fans in Cape Town. My dad, brother and I were immediately keen to attend the event as it has quite a special place for us personally as we didn’t miss any events in the previous years.

The Saturday morning started early with the ever important packing of convenience food (read crispy chip rolls, hydration (carbonated soft drinks to maintain energy levels) as well as chairs, umbrella and that magic substance for our harsh South African sun, sunblock lotion. We headed to the track nice and early to get a decent spot on turn one behind the karting track as it has a great view of most of the corners on Killarney. As we entered the gates closest to Cape Town corner, the unmistakable sound of boosting turbos came into earshot, this immediately confirmed that the early start was well worth it.

After setting up our makeshift day camp area next to the car we were treated to some practice laps from the new addition of more modern machinery in the extreme supercar class, with a field of GT cars including a pair of factory Ferrari F430’s, Porsche 911 GT3/2’s and a few wide body kitted e46 m3’s among others.

The awesome sound of these race thoroughbreds’ was enough to kick the sleep out of my eyes once and for all; I was really starting to enjoy the racing and the official program hadn’t even started yet.

The official program started with the Pre-1966/1968 Le Mans / Sebring Sports & GT class which included all the Le Mans racing classics like Ford GT40’s, a pair of Martini liveried Porsche and even a local creation, the GSM Dart. These pieces of machinery were impressively fast considering their age and just showed what type of technology went into creating a competitive chassis back in the 60’s. ‘Rolling thunder’ seems like a great way of describing the auditory experience that the spectators were treated to while seeing these monsters on track.

The crotch rockets came out at full tilt for the Isle of Man Motorcycles (TT Championship) where all the motorcycles entered had been raced at the iconic Isle of Man TT race. This event is undoubtedly the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world with regular fatalities during the event.

I’m definitely starting to pay the 2 wheeled machines more attention than I did as a youngster after listening to my second cousin’s accounts of how hectic the Isle of Man TT really is (He lived on the Isle of Man for close to a decade and took part in the event with his trusty Yamaha R1). The Motorcycle racing always provides great entertainment with the pilot’s steering their engine’s strapped to frames around the track at neck breaking pace!

The single-seater class was referred to as the Wings & Slicks and seemed to have the one commentator really excited as he mentioned the specific race countless times in the build up to it. The spectators were definitely treated to some amazing exhaust notes emerging from these single seaters with huge wings and equally large slick tyres to help these machines stick to the track!

The standout vehicles in the group included two 13b powered single seaters that had the unique rotary sound coupled with the huge flames being thrown out the exhaust under deceleration, this absolutely resulted in a treat for both the ears and eyes.

The ever present reliability, or should I say lack of reliability that comes hand in hand with the rotary motors reared its ugly head and resulted in these single seaters taking turns in not completing the two races.

One of the most interesting classes was the Pre 1977 classic and invitation cars, with a very familiar red Ford Galaxie piloted by racing legend Sarel “SuperVan” van der Merwe. Seeing him drive that huge car around the track at such great pace and keeping other competitors in his rear-view mirror was really special (I hope to be driving like that at the age of 67!!)

The real stand out for me though (yes I am biased towards Japanese metal) was definitely the Datsun 240z and Toyota TA22 Celica that competed in the Pre 1977 classic car class, the Japanese design was light years ahead of others when you look at the lines of those two cars.

During the lunch break, the three of us went on the ever important pit walk; where you get to see these special vehicles up close and spend time ogling over the V8’s, turbo charged flat 6’s and other engineering awesomeness. Upon finding a Ford Mustang with its bonnet open my dad voiced a rather sharp comment, “You know this is a Ford because it comes complete with its own socket and spanner set under the bonnet.” This was pretty rich coming from him as he owned two Escorts during his younger years! I guess the years of ownership are reason enough for the comment.

The one bike that stood out to me when I was walking past was a Rotary powered Norton. Yes you read correctly – A ROTARY powered motorcycle! It must have been a single rotary due to the displacement being 588cc.

The 45min mini endurance race was a great addition and hinted back to the 3Hour endurance races that were held at Killarney in the 60’s and 70’s, however after chatting to a few people, the common consensus was that it got a bit boring after a while.

All in all it was a great day at Killarney! The event was well attended by an awesome crowd of likeminded people. Seeing these rare cars up close are a treat and seeing them being pushed to their limit is just so rare these days! I really hope the Passion for Speed event continues as an annual event with this current economic climate.

Alex Finlay

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