The Phakisa Raceway near Welkom
is one of the top motorsport facilities in the country. It has
hosted six South African motorcycle Grands Prix. And recently
the Phakisa Wheels Festival decided to rev up local
enthusiasts in the Free State.
Some of the latest new models on
display included the stunning new Nissan Murano, which
incidentally is a Car of the Year finalist for 2006. This is
one of the most futuristic looking 4x4s on the market and drew
many oohs and aahs at Welkom.
Another eye-catcher with
big-time macho appeal is the Chrysler 300C, a V8-engined
muscle car that is fast re-capturing the glory days for
Chrysler Ė both in America and Europe.
The 300C is bound to go down big in South Africa, which has
always had an affinity for big American land yachts.
Talking of American Muscle, how
does 0-100 in 1 second grab you? Or 0-100 in 2 seconds? This
is the Showdown Jet Car, owned and driven by Johan Jacobs and
currently the fastest car on land in South Africa.
Itís capable of speeds in excess of 500 km/h, and would run
at Phakisa for a short burst on the straight and at the Welkom
A love of American cars in the
Free State was well-illustrated by the Americana in the
classic car display.
This 1935 Plymouth is a four-door sedan and has been lovingly
restored by Gerald Mizen.
Painted in a striking combination of Chinese Blue and black,
it runs an old side-valve or flathead six-cylinder motor, and
epitomizes the glamour of motoring in the pre-war years.
In the 1930s the concept of a boot for luggage was still a few
Big trunks or suitcases were
carried on a steel luggage rack at the back of the car. Gerald
started his driving career in cars like this and says he and
his friends had little respect for them.
The Plymouth was a mid-level car with a few luxury features.
The wood-style dash was a nice touch and the speedo marked up
to 100 miles-per-hour was rather fanciful. 60 miles-per-hour
or 100 km/h was about tops in those days.
First-generation Mustangs are
regarded, not surprisingly, as THE classic examples of an
The first-generation cars were built between mid-1964 and 1967
and this burgundy example is a í67 model.
Experts can tell the model years apart through small details,
such as the grille, the dummy air intakes on the flanks and
the taillights. This good-looker is owned by Ferrus Gouws.
In America a massive industry has developed supplying
reproduction or new-old-stock parts for classic cars like the
The top engine in the Mustang range was the 289 cube V8, a 4,7
displacement in metric terms. Like the rest of the car, the
engine is squeaky clean.
All Mustangs were left-hand-drives and this remains the case
today. This is a manual transmission model, and unusually,
this Special Edition car has both a metric and a
miles-per-hour speedometer, set in separate dials. Yes, even
in 1967, the Mustang was capable of low flying.
The allure of the Showdown Jet
Car drew many spectators to the Goldfields festival. Johan
Jacobs bought this F5 Jet-engined car in America a year ago
and puts on displays all over the country.
On the Phakisa straight he would
give it full throttle for just over 2 seconds, because of the
limited braking area. Thatís about 250 km/h!
In Welkom in late 2005, there was also some high-flying going
on. An air festival was held in conjunction with Phakisa event
and the idea was that Johan Jacobs would race his jet car
against some aircraft down the runway at the local airport.
Unfortunately a couple of thunderstorms made things tricky for
the pilots. Just as the jet aircrafts lined up to race, the
rain fell with a vengeance. Jacobs actually started his run
but had to shut down after he lost traction on the wet runway.
Back at the track, the rain was
making things interesting for the drag racing, which ran in
Especially affected were the cars running on slicks, like this
beautifully turned out Mark one Escort, owned and built by
Steven van Niekerk.
This is one of the fastest cars in the Goldfields, and is
capable of running in the 10 second bracket over 400 metres.
has long been known as a car enthusiast city, ever since the
original Welkom Raceway was built in the 1970s.
At the Phakisa Wheels Festival all manner of hot streetcars
and motorcycles were able to stretch their legs in safety on
the excellent international-standard racetrack.
The weather made traction a problem, but most of the crowd
stayed until the end to see their favourites in action.
Organiser Ferdi Preller and his team can be justly proud of
an excellent maiden event.