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David Piper - The Golden Age of Motor Racing

Page 2 of 3

Broadcast date : 4th March 2007


The Tourist trophy segment of the series featured a mixed bag that included Jos Koster’s Porsche 904, Lincoln Small’s beautiful Brabham BT 8, some Elvas, genuine AC Cobras, more Austin Healeys and local Jag XK140 driven by John "Yellow Peril" Bird.
A car that you would normally associate with red-carpet glamour rather than race-track hurly-burly is this Aston Martin DB4, raced by England’s Chris Ballard.

It looks very similar to the DB5 used by Sean Connery, aka James Bond, in the 007 movie Goldfinger, the one fitted with all sorts of espionage gadgetry.

One of the most enthralling aspects of the original Springbok Series was that it mixed in home-grown SA saloon cars with exotics from Europe, capable of almost twice the speed of the tin-tops.

Who better to lead out the field of South African classic saloon cars than Sarel van der Merwe and the 1965 Ford Galaxie? Go Sarel go. That was the call from the stands, the crowds all feeling they KNOW that man! Legends of the Nine-Hour indeed!

The horsepower revolution happened in European-type saloon-car racing in 1963, when Ford Motor Company imported some American Nascar-spec 7-litre Ford Galaxies to England to end Jaguar domination at the sharp end of the field.

The Willment Galaxie raced here in the 1963 and 1964 Nine-Hours, and was then bought by Bob Olthoff to run in our saloon car championship. In 1965 it just beat out the Lotus Cortinas.

Also there were '65 Mustangs, Alfas, Anglias, the brilliantly reliable Volvos… but who remembers the Aunty Austin A35 as a racetrack hero? 

The Zwartkops boys have dubbed Peter Collings yellow car The Flying Teapot.

The Camaro is more of a late sixties racer, and as for the Stud – well, those were the street-cars of choice for your average Jo’burg duck-tail back in 1958. But the Zwartkops approach is that if it looks good, run it!

The relaxed atmosphere of the Zwartkops pits, and indeed the Killarney paddock in Cape Town, makes the spectators feel part of the show, even though the competitors and their crews are extremely serious about the racing.

To get up close and personal with the cars and the stars is a vital part of Zwartkops’ appeal.

Whether you run a million-buck Porsche, a modest MGA or a battle-scarred old saloon, you are part of it in the classic scene.

The one common denominator amongst all these racers is their common love for cars for their own sake – they aren’t just in it for personal glory.

As a fan, it helps to have a good memory and an historical knowledge of motor racing to get the best out of the Legends meeting. But the fact that the fans can mingle with the likes of David Piper and Richard Atwood means a lot – and none of it has that staged, public relations feel.

These guys love of cars means that many of them simply won’t let old racing cars die – like this great big beauty, which hasn’t been seen at the track for over twenty years.

The massive 745i was BMW South Africa’s secret weapon to take on the likes of the Alfa GTV6 and the Sierra XR8 on the race tracks in 1985.

The car is almost 100 per cent original, even down to some of the paintwork, and the rebuild is the handiwork of renowned race car builder Alec Ceprnich.

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