The Youth Day races will see National Championship showdowns between the likes of on-form EP heroes, champion Michael Stephen and Simon Moss in the Engen Audis fighting off Uitenhage’s Volkswagens and Gennaro Bonafede’s Sasol BMW, never mind the GTC2 Golfs, Minis and Hondas in Sasol Global Touring Cars. Then the best of SA’s future superstars will fight it out in the new turbocharged Engen Polo Cup, while the Investec Formula 1600 lads continue in their quest for that Road to Indy chance.
Many fans may however find the allure of the old school V8 Supercars thundering flat out down through Potters Pass past Rifle Range before braking from over 300km/h for the beachside Copabana bend an even bigger attraction. But that’s not all — the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters Cup will add a little two-wheeled magic; the local lot will be hammer and tongs in the next round of the BMSC Modified Saloon Championship and the upcountry Car Care Clinic 111 Sports & Saloons will escape their regular confines of Zwartkops to stretch their legs through East London’s thick, pure air.
The classic East London Grand Prix Circuit is a legend in the world of motorsport with history that stretches back to the 1930s. Initially run on a circular road on the West Bank of East London playing host to the classic Border Hundred, the circuit hosted the first South African Grand Prix over six laps of a 23km course won by American millionaire Whitney Straight’s Maserati in front of 65000 spectators in 1934. The pre-war SA Grands Prix attracted the world’s finest racers to East London, including the legendary Auto Union Silver Arrows, but World War 2 saw a stop to that.
It took a while for grand prix racing to return to the current, shorter circuit on New years Day 1960, with the ’64, ’65 and final 1966 East London SA Grands Prix counting toward the world championship and fought out by the likes of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, John Surtees and Jack Brabham; driving Coopers, Lotus, BRM and Ferrari, among others.
Today, half a century down the line, the East London Grand Prix Circuit still plays a regular host to top SA National motorsport and Youth Day Saturday 16 June should add more great history to an incredible legend in what promises to be yet another great day’s racing in paradise at a legendary location.