Mini Cooper S JCW, Lee Thompson, Bridgestone Production Cars

Lee Thompson

Bridgestone Production Cars

—Mini Cooper S JCW.
—Zwartkops Raceway.

Super Series: a different kind of silence

It is still early; the aroma of good coffee fills the empty spaces inside the Aces Café. 'Two filter coffees please,' I said, handing over a twenty. The cups are much larger than I remembered ... maybe more value is what we need in these dire times, which of course was much appreciated.

Photographers, spectators and competitors are gradually strolling in through the doors. Round one of the Super Series kicks off at the illustrious Zwartkops Raceway today.
Outside (across from our table) a young man is trying his best to give away "free" green Castrol caps, in exchange for questions and answers. In my opinion, it was a useless exercise: These days, when buying a new car it comes stocked with a maintenance/services plan; can’t remember the last time I bought oil for a DIY service. Anyhow, I got my free green cap.

My feet sink slightly into the wet sand. The bright blue ocean is stretching so far out that it seems to go on forever; the margin between the ocean and sky is almost invisible. A big ship on the horizon, the only indication that it actually exists. Peace and quiet surrounds me. The silence brings its own kind of relieve; a relieve in stark contrast to the unforgiving city life. The backdrop is filled with yapping seagulls; the ocean crashes in and the waves hurriedly roll out to cover my naked feet ... I enjoy the silence.
The forest is so dense I can barely see the sky. I follow a stepped out trail, it might lead me to somewhere interesting. The place is quiet; my footsteps are louder than normal. This is what we sometimes need—the silence! The air is fresh and brisk. The smell of the forest is everywhere. Up in the tops the birds are oblivious of my presence; their lively sounds are in contrast to the wind through the trees ... I truly enjoy the silence.

The Aces Café is a bustle by now. Everyone is having their coffee without moan, presumably discussing a poignant theme—a different kind of silence.
We take the last few sips before leaving the rich aroma of coffee behind, in exchange for the heavy smell of race-fuel, which brings back so many good—motorsport—memories: Packed grandstands; the long arduous trek (if you arrive late and have to park outside) with a cooler box loaded with the King’s Homes; queuing patiently for Terry Moss to autograph my poster/photograph; having an animated chat with Sarel van der Merwe; posing for a photo with your local hero ... I was a regular face at Zwartkops Raceway once; a proud season ticket holder at Kyalami ... Where have all the good times gone, you might ask?

Thursday late afternoon I nicked the motorsport section of the newspaper. My local Wimpy manager doesn’t really care if I do that, as long as he sees my face at least three times a week for a Mega Coffee.
Extracts from Motors: "Effense slegte nuus vir die baanren-sirkus is die verlies van die tweewielers, die Superfietse en die kleiner SuperSport-jaers. Die motorfietsmanne het besluit om vanjaar hul eie reeks te hou op hul eie kalender."
"Ons krap ook kop oor wat die toekoms van die produksiemotors se Klas A-deelnemers is."
"Daar was verlede jaar te min spanne en motors wat deelgeneem het; ons sou hoop die veld kan vanjaar groter wees."

On Friday, it was evident. I’ve seen the Zwartkops pit complex in a worse state before (referring to entries), with a Northern Regions Racing event; BUT, for a national Super Series, this was totally off—maybe the rundown state was always present, with us not seeing it, or honestly believing it might sort itself out in future:

Bridgestone Production Cars, Class A, SIX ENTRIES [1]: Michael Stephen #1, Audi S4 Quattro; Simon Moss #38, Audi S4 Quattro (Will he be the next Terry?); Hennie Groenewald #8, Audi S4 Quattro; Gennaro Bonafede #32, Audi S4 Quattro; Johan Fourie #14, BMW 335i and Gavin Cronje #25, BMW 335i. The small line-up was ornate in beautiful livery, except for the Bimmers (totally white, like a triple K rally).

Bridgestone Production Cars, Class T, EIGHT ENTRIES [1]: Charl Smalberger #15, Volkswagen Golf GTI; Graeme Nathan #21, VW Golf GTI; Michael van Rooyen #29, Chevrolet Cruze; Ryan Rhode #36, Mini Cooper S JCW; Lee Thompson #37, Mini Cooper S JCW; Shaun Duminy #42, Ford Focus ST; Gary Formato #43, Ford Focus ST and Ryan Cooper #28, Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The rest of the motorsport day comprised of: SA Sports (Shelby Can-Ams) & V8 Supercars (14 entries)[1], which housed well-known names like: Rui Campos, Thomas Reib, Ben Morgenrood, Larry Wilford, Willie Hepburn and Clare Vale. Engen Volkswagen Cup (18 entries)[1] and the SA Single Seaters (23 entries)[1].

For two wheel fans there was almost enough action for the day from the Thunderbikes, with 21 entries[1]: Gavin Lightfoot #32, Kawasaki ZX10R, Etienne Nelson #8, BMW S1000RR, Kyran de Lange #49, Triumph Daytona 675R; Richard Carmody #3, Kawasaki ZX10R; Brandon Goode #71, Kawasaki ZX6R, Darien Keyser #89, Kawasaki ZX6R and Teddy Brooke #93, Kawasaki ZX10R (to name but a few). On the flip side of the Thunderous experience was the Brunch Run Challenge, spanning 17[1] scoot jockeys in total; with Michael Viljoen #86 taking a splash in turn six on Saturday. The young man was up and about in no time to join the slippery/rainy action again ... In total (race one results): hundred-and-seven entries for the day :-(

Pretoria is far from any ocean or dense forest or beautiful outdoor places; too reset the mind and enjoy the well-deserved silence (away from the city that is killing us slowly); I go to my local racetrack. There is no place here for any of that congested nonsense. Here I can have peace and quiet, forgetting about the world out there. Here I can enjoy the sun, a slightly lighter blue sky, and a backdrop that is filled with the delicate sound of a thundering merry-go-round from eight till late. But, this past weekend, there was a different kind of silence. With hundred-and-seven entries (in total) on the starting grid, grandstands half filled, the city did not let its grip go on me. You can only take so many photos of six Class A Bridgestone Production Cars ...

From a spectator’s/photographer’s point of view, I truly believe that our beloved circuit motorsport is on a fast track south (and has been for a while); many prominent racing figures uttered negative sentiments over the weekend, truly hoping that it would reach the right ears. It saddens me.
South Africa is home to some of the best racetracks in the world, it is also home to the best race pilots and scoot jockeys (even though most are self-funded). We have sunny skies and Friday slackers; tons of millionaires; companies that list on the Forbes Global 2000 (?); Inventers; Nobel Prize Laureates; approximately 25million people taking home some form of expendable income; the Internet (thanks to people like Tim Berners-Lee (?)); social media platforms, email, DSTV, YouTube, APPS, photographers, marshals etc. We have the best entrepreneurs and marketing gurus—and still we could only muster six Class A production cars on the starting grid.

/ Nothing sounds as good as/ I remember that/ Like a bolt out from the blue, did you feel it too?/ I remember that/ ... goes the Prefab Sprout song (?):
Mike Briggs, Grant McCleery, Tony Viana, Deon Joubert, Shaun van der Linde, Mike White, Ben Morgenrood, Sarel van der Merwe, Terry Moss, Chris Aberdein, Peter Lanz, Glen Gibbons, Franco Di Matteo, Gary Dunkerley, Grant van Schalkwyk, Richie Jute, Charl Wilken, Larry Wilford, Willie Hepburn, Dawie Joubert ...

"I’d rather be racing at Zwartkops. Half the size – twice the fun." And the people roared with approval![2]

On the motorcycle racing front we will remember names like: Brad Anassis, Buks Boshoff, Brett MacLeod, Stewart MacLeod, Russell Wood, Trevor Crookes, Robbie Petersen, Graeme van Breda, Shane Norval, Greg Dreyer, Dave Petersen, Danie Maritz ...

We need local heroes that we can truly follow again (and I don’t mean Twitter or Facebook). I want to stand in-line for a personally autographed poster—not the pre-autographed ones in a box outside the race-garage, with a note that reads: "please take one". I want to bump shoulders on full grandstands; I want to be proud of motorsport again. 'You know what I’m talking about?'

True motorsport fans (like any other sport fans) will endure all four seasons in one day (trust me they will) to see their heroes in action. We can’t blame Shopping Malls, TV, the rain, the new lethargic generation, PlayStation, or any other weekend sport for the current state of affairs. Motorsport is my beach, my forest, my silence, and I need it back. —Godspeed!

Super Series, Bridgestone Production Cars

Simon Moss #38

—Engen Xtreme / Terry Moss Racing Audi S4.

Super Series, Bridgestone Production Cars

Hennie Groenewald #8, Gennaro Bonafede #32

—Audi Sasol Racing Team Audi S4.

Super Series, Bridgestone Production Cars

Ryan Rhode #36

—Castrol Mini Cooper JCW.

Super Series, Bridgestone Production Cars

Gennaro Bonafede #32, Hennie Groenewald #8

—Audi Sasol Racing Team Audi S4.

Super Series, Bridgestone Production Cars, Zwartkops Raceway, South African Motorsport, 2014/03/01. [1] – Race 1 Results. [2] – Racelines 2nd Edition, page 319.