RACE TRACK, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?!
04 April 2013 | Story: RaceMasteR J
Owning your own house is a great thing,
though it comes with some ups and downs. On the up side you
have the freedom to do whatever you want, but on the down side
you have the responsibility of maintaining your fine establishment.
But, that comes with the territory and you don’t mind
a little “up keep” at the end of the day. So you’re
enjoying your house… what’s next? Invite all your
friends over to enjoy it with you, house party! Everyone comes
over, they have a blast, good company, good food, good music
and at the end of the night, or next morning, everyone leaves
and then, YOU have to clean up.
That my dear readers is pretty much what Killarney Race Track
goes through almost every weekend of the year. There are roughly
130 events on the 2013 calendar alone making you realize that
the circuit is more active than you think. Keeping their “house
guests” happy is a priority, spectators and racers alike,
buts it’s not as easy as everyone seems to think. Killarney
is run by a small group of passionate individuals from the marshals
to the officials who take pride in honing motorsport in this
Which brings us to the old question of why isn’t that
done or this upgraded yet…? Well, truth be told, there’s
constant upgrades being done all the time. A lot of which you
would not even notice until someone points it out to you. Things
you take for granted but somehow your experience there unconsciously
gets a little better every time.
About three years ago a list was compiled stating all the things
that needed attention and a plan was put into action to get
that list done and dusted. This list had various improvements
for spectators but focused more on the safety of the racers,
which actually in my opinion is way more important, no matter
how much spectators bitch and moan about facilities. The fact
of the matter is if there are no racers, there’s no Killarney,
Killarney has had their fare share of bad luck and witchcraft
thrown at them. For example, a truck drove into the new timing
display boards and broke the whole darn thing. But the display
board was fixed and a height restriction bar was installed so
that should, hopefully, never happen again. There is also a
constant theft issue at the circuit. With a township right on
its doorstep, it becomes an easy target for thievery. Even though
there are camera’s set up around the entire facility and
security on site, the theft issue can’t always be resolved.
The place is huge for goodness sake. Lights, speakers and more
importantly, cables and other equipment are constantly at risk.
Hence trenches were dug and cable laid in the ground for the
timing display boards, which worked when tested, but for some
reason it decided not to work again. An effort was made to investigate
those reasons, but just as that got underway, the xmas tree,
or quarter mile start line lights was destroyed by a biker who
rode straight into it at a drag racing event. The whole system
was wrecked. Attention was then steered in that direction to
get it up and running again, which they did, only to have the
speed trap destroyed in another separate accident. So after
fixing one major issue, another one popped up. But heads were
put together and the timing system was repaired, however, they
are still working on resolving the speed trap requirements.
On another “type” of level, Killarney is forever
faced with the problem of noise pollution. This is a tricky
one because the last time I checked, the track was there before
the residential area. I say it’s tricky because they are
dealing with government, and we all know how that goes. The
residents complain about the noise, whether it be on a Sunday
during an open track day or in the evening during a street2strip
event. Why move next to a racing circuit in the first place?
Do estate agents hide the fact that the area is next to a racing
complex? But the residents are there and are not going to move,
neither is the track, so a harmonious relationship needs to
be retained. Killarney has implemented curfews for racing and
built a massive man made mountain to prevent sound waves from
travelling towards those pesky residents, but sometimes that’s
not always enough. Practice sessions overflow into weekdays
and even evenings sometimes. On track days it’s come down
to having to send some people home if their cars are too loud.
Killarney ends up looking like the bastards, but if things like
that are not enforced the circuit will inevitably be shut down,
by government! I’m saying this because I saw the letter
from The City of Cape Town warning Killarney about this issue.
It’s more serious than you think! If we want our home
of motorsport in Cape Town to keep its doors open, we’re
going to have to play by the rules.
On the more positive side, here are some of the improvements
The left hand side of the start line area has been concreted.
As seen in the image above, it has been concreted for a reason.
If that had to be grass and sand, the outcome of this run would
not have been the same.
The ground has been leveled and smoothed out around the 400m
mark and beyond making for safer run off area. The grass on
the left side of the main straight has been leveled and smoothed
out between the 400m and 700m mark, making for safer run off
area should it be required.
There’s a bridge!!!! That was a long time coming but it’s
finally there and working great! I don’t have to use my
car if I want to get from the old pits to turn 2 anymore.
New spectator fencing has been installed at the start line area.
The pit entrance Armco has been smoothed off with solid plate.
Why? So when bikers are coming out from turn 5 and heading towards
the main straight, they or their bikes would not get stuck underneath
it should they fall. However it was actually initially done
to improve the safety for drag racing, should a car or bike
lose control and happen to crash into these gates while closed
for drag racing, no vehicle parts or bike riders can hit the
blunt edge of the wall reducing the risk.
The area at the end of the strip has been widened and concreted
allowing Killarney to host drag events with vehicles quicker
than 10.99seconds, side by side once the task has been completed
and approved by MSA! This improvement
would also allow for extra stopping distance, hence allowance
for quicker cars. MSA has restricted this up until now.
An additional burnout area has been installed before the current
one. This affords racers two separate burnout areas, a wet and
a dry one.
The general condition of the drag tower has been improved from
the stairs and railings to the floors and door.
A three level spectator grand stand has been build at the start
line allowing better views for all. Additional stands are in
The bump at the 100m mark on the drag strip has been leveled.
This was done when certain sections of the circuit was resurfaced.
More lights are being added for improved night events.
New speakers are also constantly being added in the drag pit
area and spectator areas.
New fencing has been installed from turn two to turn three.
This is an ongoing thing and more will be added over time.
Those are just some of the many improvements already done at
the facility. There are still plenty more on the list and are
being tended to one at a time. Things like an introductory drag
racing brochure for newbie racers with info like rules, etiquette,
MSA license info, WPMC benefits, gymkhana and street2strip info
etc. Killarney also acknowledges that the current rules and
classifications need to be simpler to accommodate more street
racers back into the sport. About 10 years ago the cost to race
was low and the number of entrants high. As time passed MSA
added more and more things into the mix which then resulted
in higher costs and lower entrants. Killarney knows this and
is fighting to get things back to where they were, for our benefit.
Believe it or not, for those who don’t know, there isn’t
a national set of rules which applies to everyone when it comes
to drag racing. National classes, speed and sound classes, Killarney
classes, they’re all somewhat different. As silly as it
may seem, the actual reason is the classes differ according
to region. And each region has sort of customized their class
according to what kind of racer attends their event. For instance
in Joburg you might have a lot of 6 cylinder turbo’s running
on full methanol… in Durban you might get normally aspirated
V8’s and in Cape Town a lot of 1.6 4 cylinders. Nonetheless
it’s something that they are working on improving…
and the list goes on.
All in all running a massive complex like the Killarney Circuit
is no easy task. You host a function and the next day people
complain about the food… well, to all those people I say
try making your own! Over the last few years Killarney HAS made
many small improvements and many larger ones too. They are moving
with the times and only trying to keep everyone happy all at
once with the ever challenging problems they face on a daily
basis. Killarney, what have they done? A LOT!