This year’s South African circuit racing season will, as has become tradition, start off with the annual Historic Passion For Speed Festival at the Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria on the weekend of January 29, 30 and 31.
The event, to be held for the 15th consecutive year, will be the biggest of its kind yet, with more than 300 entries – including 55 from overseas, tackling 26 races over two days.
The biggest crowd drawcard should be for Pre-1971 Champion of Champions Production GT Cars.
The entry list boasts some of the biggest names in South Africa motorsport.
Racing V8-powered saloon cars will be Leeroy Poulter (Ford Fairlane), Hennie Groenewald (Ford Comet), Lee Thompson (Chev Camaro), Jeffrey Kruger (Chev Nova), Mark du Toit (Chev Camaro) and Thomas Falkiner (Ford Mustang), Stuart Grant (Chev Camaro) and Colin Clay (Datsun 240Z)
Overseas drivers will include Donald Duncan from Britain (Chev Camaro) and Michiel Campagne (Chev Corvette Grand Sport).
Equally spectacular should be two heats for SKF Pre-1966 Legend Production Cars.
Heading up ten V8-engined cars will be maestro Sarel van der Merwe (Ford Galaxie) and Hennie Groenewald (Plymouth), with other top contenders including Paolo Cavalieri (Ford Galaxie), Mark du Toit (Chev Biscayne), Thomas Falkiner (Studebaker Golden Hawk) and Jonathan du Toit (Chev Bel-Air).
Three overseas Ford Mustangs will join the fray, in the hands of Christian Nordahl (Sweden), plus Frans van Maarschakwaard and Harm van Putten of the Netherlands.
Officially, the day’s premier event will be the 45-minute Castrol South African Tourist Trophy race for Pre-1968 Le Mans and GT Cars.
Heading the entry will be three Lola T70 entries, in the hands of Rui Campos, Mark/Jonathan du Toit and Mark Lauth.
There will also be five Ford GT40s, driven by Swedish entrants Kenneth Person and Jan Kling, Brit Chris Wilson, plus South Africans Oliver Dalais and Larry Wilford.
Brit Donald Duncan will feature in a McLaren Mk1B, with Daytona Coupe entries to be shared by Sarel van der Merwe/Michael Briggs and Peter / Paige Lindenberg, plus Swede Claus Poulson’s Corvette Grand Sport, and Michiel Campagne in his Grand Sport Corvette. And TV personality Marius Roberts (GSM Dart)
There will be three Austen Healeys from the UK, three Lotus Elans, two Chevron B8s, four Cobras, two Chev Corvettes, two GSM Darts, a Morgan, various MGs and a Mpiti.
The race will include a compulsary three-minute pit stop, with teams deciding when to carry it out.
The event’s fastest international races should be two heats for Pre-1974 Sports Racing Prototypes.
Pre-event favourites should be five Chevron B19s, driven by Kent Abrahamsson (Sweden), Dirk Waaijenberg (Holland), plus South Africans Franco Scribante and Colin Ellison.
Sweden’s Burnt Anderson will drive a Lola 210, with Lola T70s in the hands of Roman de Beer and Mark Lauth.
Unique will be a 1971 Sauber, driven by Brit Peter Leuthart, plus Porsche 917s driven by Rui Campos, Peter Bailey and Colin Clay.
The biggest international field will contest Super Prix single-seater races for Pre-1963 Formula Junior cars, with 18 drivers from the UK, Norway and Sweden in 13 separate makes of car.
There will also be races for Pre-1974 SA Single Seaters, with top contenders Alan Bailey in an ex-works F1 Cooper and Alex Morton in the ex Neville Lederly Lotus 21, Andrew Beumont (LDS Alfa) and Eddie Perk (LDS Ford).
A great variety of vehicles will contest two races for Little Giants – Pre-1968 Production and Sports Cars.
There will be D-Type and E-Type Jaguars, GSM Darts, a Mini Marcos, Mercedes-Benz Fintails, Ford Anglias, MGAs, an Austin A35, an Alfa Giulietta Sprint, MGAs and MGBs.
The races will boast two lady drivers, in Chloee Fu (GSM Dart) and Melanie Spurr, in a rare Ford Consul 315.
The Historic programme will also include races for Classic Production Cars, with a huge entry including the ex Tony Viana Winfield BMW 750, Robbie Smith in a Ford Capri, various BMW 325s, a Ford Fairlane, Escorts, Datsuns, Mazdas and a VW Scirocco.
On a more modern note, there will be a Ferrari Challenge, a Lotus Challenge and a Marque Cars Trofeo Challenge.
Finally, there will be two races for G&H Transport Extreme Supercars, with South Africa’s quickest privateer race vehicles in action.
Front runners should include Jonathan du Toit (Ferrari 430), Lee Thompson’s BMW M3, Jaki Scheckter’s Ferrari 430 GT3, Charl Arangies’Lamborghini Gallardo, Anton Cronje’s Subaru WRX, Deon du Plessis’KTM X-Bow and Dawie Olivier’s Baby Beemer.
The Sunday will see the Suzuki Day of the champions and Isle of Man TT Classic Superbikes in action, with some big South African names past and present taking on racers from the UK, New Zealand, Scotland, Finland, Holland and Switzerland.
Official practice sessions will be held on Thursday, with official qualifying and some events late Friday afternoon.
All the car races, plus a SA TT motorcycle race will take place on the Saturday.
Full weekend tickets can be bought at Computicket or at the Zwartkops office before the event for a discounted rate of R170 per adult and R100 per student, with children under 12 going in for free.
Tickets sold at the gate on Saturday will cost R190 per adult, R110 per student and children under 12 free.
Friday or Sunday tickets only will cost R90 per adult and R70 per student.