16 Apr E-BLOWER VOLUME 35
The unofficial voice of the WPMC.
Editor: IM Nobody. Chief Sub-Ed: Robin J Emslie. Art Director & Picture Ed. J Colin Brown. International co-respondent: Cedric Selzer. PR & Bike Ed: Dave Abrahams. Social bin-scratcher: Jo King.
Well here I am, surrounded by old Blowers — relaxing in my rocking-chair on the stoep while contemplating life in the country. Incidentally, one of the many advantages offered by our little town is that as there are no traffic lights (and very little traffic anyway), motorised travel here remains unaffected by power outages.
That apart, I still regularly cover the 100 plus kms to Killarney and was pleasantly surprised by the recent national Passion for Speed meeting. The crowd was good, the entry excellent — and the racing was first class. Naturally, the opening Wingfield Motors sponsored Power Series show that was held only 2 weeks later, was unable match the attendance — but once again the racing was out of the top drawer, with possibly an even greater selection of highlights.
But even more important as we move into the new season, was the arrival of G-Energy with a package that included sponsorship of the Passion for Speed meeting as well as the acceptance of the naming rights of the exciting Turn 2 (formerly Quarry Corner), that will be known as the G-Energy Corner in future.
See story below:
…..and do not miss the important General Meeting report.
A Warm Welcome to G-Energy.
Our club is proud to announce the signing of OILY South Africa as the sponsor of one of the most exciting corners at the raceway and of the season-opening international historic racing festival Passion for Speed, held at the beginning of February each year.
OILY SA (https://www.facebook.com/OILYgroup/) is an importer of premium lubricants in South Africa; its flagship brand is G-Energy (http://g-energy.org/en/index.html), a range of lubricants for high performance cars formulated and made in Italy and tested in the Dakar Rally, the Africa Eco Race, the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Silk Way Rally and many other challenging events. Its manufacturer, Gazpromneft-Lubricants (http://www.gazpromneft-oil.com), has received product approvals from manufacturers such as BMW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Volkswagen and Volvo.
The second corner of the circuit, originally named Quarry when Killarney was rebuilt to its current layout in 1960, will now be known as G-Energy corner and Killarney’s prestigious international racing festival event on 8 and 9 February became the Passion for Speed by G-Energy.
G-Energy will also present additional prizes at prize-giving throughout season, as well as master classes in lubrication technology at selected events, and a major presence at the annual Killarney Motor Show.
The brand is also internationally known in motorsport for its sponsorship of Latvian RX driver Jānis Baumanis (https://www.facebook.com/janisbaumanisrx/) in the World Rallycross series, which culminates each year in the World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney.
Killarney International Raceway welcomes G-Energy and OILY to the home of motorsport in the Western Cape.
A highly informative GENERAL MEETING.
A General Meeting of the WPMC was held at Killarney International Raceway on the evening of Tuesday 19 March. The meeting was called to address major problems affecting the future of the circuit;
- the renewal of the Club’s lease (which expires at the end of 2022),
- financial problems arising from losses incurred through hosting World Rallycross,
- an annual rates bill of R1.1 million per year and
- the threat posed to the circuit by continued infractions of the noise abatement plan mandated by the city.
The well-attended three-hour meeting was also aimed at stemming the flood of ill-informed and speculative comment on social media;
- that the Club was ‘bankrupt’,
- that some appointments to ManCom were unconstitutional,
- that the Club was misusing funds curated on behalf of the sections,
- that the Club was spending significant (unauthorised) amounts settling lawsuits and,
- most damaging of all, that the circuit was to be closed down by the City of Cape Town to build housing on the track area.
Club chairman Gavin Cerff opened with an overview of changes and improvements since the new constitution was adopted in 2011 and the previous management structures were replaced by ManCom and SportsCom.
The circuit, its safety features, noise limitation and spectator facilities are repaired, upgraded and improved as and when funds allow. Members don’t see the difference because they’re at Killarney almost every weekend – but if you had gone overseas in 2013 and came back today, you would hardly recognise the place, he said.
Track and safety improvements include catch-fencing and kerbing in Turn 1, run-off in Turn 5, new debris fencing, raised Armco on the back straight, Armco along the back of the garages, the wall on the back straight, a new fence that allows karters to practice while the main circuit is in use, tyre barriers and new fire-fighting equipment to name but a few.
The drag strip has a new run-through safety area, a new (and very expensive) timing system, new stands and a spinning pitch, the area behind the scrutineering bay has been extended to improve facilities for straight-line events, and the karting pits have additional lock-up garages.
Spectator comfort has been improved by covering of the most popular grandstands with shade-cloth and installing handrails, concrete flooring and improved toilets all around the circuit. (SANS compliant with all the relevant COC’s in place)
Killarney is regarded as the country’s top circuit after privately owned and immensely well-funded Kyalami, and other circuits have in fact sent representatives here to learn from us.
Turning to the circuit’s relationship with the City of Cape Town, he pointed out that eight years ago it was regarded by some city politicians and officials as a ‘junk property’ that could be used for housing development once the lease expired.
Since then the circuit, and Executive Manager Des Easom in particular, have built up a relationship with City office-bearers, making them very much aware of the circuit’s contribution to the city’s economy in the form of up-country and international visitors to World Rallycross, the national Extreme Festival and the annual StreetFest and Killarney Motor Show.
When you factor in race-day vendors and contractors as well as people employed by or at the circuit, more than 700 people earn a living at Killarney – and there are thousands more who benefit from the automotive performance industry that has grown up around racing in the Western Cape – all of which would disappear if the circuit were to close.
Political leaders have also come to accept that relocating Killarney, even with the gift of free land, would not be a solution as it would cost more than R1 billion to build a track and needed facilities. This would not solve the problem of Killarney’s location, but merely move it temporarily, as ongoing urban development would in due course surround the track again. That is why many major racetracks in the world are in urban areas where good management plans limit disruption and noise.
In almost every case where a race circuit is closed in order to build a new facility, it never happens – Pietermaritzburg’s iconic Roy Hesketh circuit being a case in point.
Killarney’s closure would effectively end motorsport in Cape Town. Motorsport South Africa (MSA) CEO Adrian Scholtz said: “The loss of Killarney as a motorsport venue would be devastating to motorsport in South Africa in general, and Cape Town in particular.”
The City is directly involved in Killarney’s road safety initiatives such as Robot Racing, that gets illegal street racers off the roads and into a safe and controlled environment every Wednesday evening. More than 6500 participants have signed up since its inception in 2016, and up to 300 racers attend on Wednesday nights, at a cost of R70 all-in. Further contributions to road safety include track schools and driver training on the skid pan.
Killarney is the busiest and most used sport and recreation venue in Cape Town with some 200 events per year, of which about 70 are charity events. In 72 years of racing, the circuit has paid its own way, while other venues such as the Cape Town Stadium and Athlone Stadium cost ratepayers significant sums in essential maintenance and security even when they are not in use.
Alderman JP Smith is on record as saying that he cannot see a scenario in which the lease would not be renewed, and Mayor Dan Plato, who attended World Rallycross in 2018, is also positive about Killarney’s role and contribution. Additional City funding could soon be on the way for Robot Racing; after an initial grant in 2016 to help get it started Killarney has been running Robot Racing without financial assistance.
Cerff pointed out that the Club had incurred annual losses of R900 000 from two World Rallycross events, and had written to promoter IMG to say that it cannot continue in this fashion and wants to discuss a viable alternative business model. While awaiting IMG’s response, the City does not want to lose this international sporting showcase, and is willing to consider a more direct involvement in hosting the event – as well as becoming involved in hosting other events with widespread appeal such as the Killarney Motor Show and StreetFest, and even the annual 8 Hours.
In order to renew the lease the City would have to go through a public participation process, where the views of those opposing Killarney as well as its supporters would be heard. The process could take a year, Cerff said, and this is where the members come in. Killarney would have to keep complying with every noise, pollution and safety regulation, particularly managing fuel storage, recycling and the disposal of hazardous materials such as old oil.
The Club’s limited staff cannot be everywhere, he said; to make this work, members will have to police themselves and each other, through their section chairmen. In particular, there must be no old oil entering the drainage system and no revving of engines at night when the sound carries across to the nearby residential – and that includes not only the circuit premises but also the roads in the surrounding industrial areas. Local residents can’t tell the difference.
Members also need to show unity and commitment in the campaign to secure an extended lease. A longer lease would justify and attract additional capital investments and improvements.
As regards the rumours about the Club being bankrupt, he confirmed that its bank balance stood at R2.72 million, of which R1.7 million was in the form of a members’ loan, due for repayment in June 2019. This balance, he stated, did not include funds curated on behalf of the Clubmans and other sections, which are separately managed.
Cerff also pointed out the statement minuted in the Clubmans Section records of the time that the Club had requested the transfer of the funds to its control was factually incorrect – the request in fact came from the section.
He also tackled the perception that Mancom had acted irresponsibly by settling the legal action brought by Otto Dragoun for R200 000, explaining that even if the Club had won the case it would have cost almost that much in legal fees, plus a whole lot more in further legal fees if Dragoun had appealed. If the court had found in favour of Dragoun, he said, the cost to the Club would have been in the millions, so Mancom’s conscience, and his as chairman, were clear in this regard.
Another rumour that needed to be scotched, he said, was that the hire of workshop facilities at the circuit had increased by 25 percent – and he laid out figures to show that rentals had actually increased by 13.7 percent, including the extra one-percent rise imposed by the increase in VAT.
Then there was the perception that the club is charging Cape Helldrivers exorbitant sums for the hire of the tar oval. The sum involved, Cerff stated, was R17 000 per meeting; that amount covers several hours of practice on the Thursday before each meeting and the use of the tar oval and its infrastructure from 2:00pm until 9:00pm on race day.
It includes the provision of marshals, security staff, circuit maintenance and repair, the provision of electricity and water, and spectator facility maintenance, such as toilet cleaners on duty, as well as the provision of a fully staffed venue for prize-giving after each meeting. That actually represents good value for money, he pointed out; for a corporate client to hire the circuit for a similar event would cost significantly more than double that amount.
As an example of how speculation can become perception, he alluded to the widely-spread rumour there was no response from security during the recent armed robbery at the circuit. In fact, he said, the security staff on duty were taken hostage and forced at gunpoint to continue their normal rounds and electronic check-ins for five hours, while the robbers forced their way into the premises – and nobody knew about the situation until after the perpetrators had left.
He appealed to members to approach him, Des Easom or their section chairman to establish the facts before spreading unfounded and damaging speculation on social media.
Des Easom confirmed that rates of R45 500 per month had been made, as per the payment plan agreed with the City of Cape Town. Both parties anticipated receiving a rates rebate for 2018/2019, and the rates would then have been paid off during that financial year. However, the application for the rates rebate was declined, giving rise to a current balance owing of R420 000.
A meeting was being scheduled, he said, to agree on a payment plan to settle the balance; the Club’s electricity, water and sewerage bills were up to date.
Rates rebates in local government across South Africa are due to fall away in June 2019. As rates are based on the valuation of Killarney, the Club would appeal the current valuation, as it has done successfully twice in the past.
The floor was then thrown open to questions and it immediately became clear that the members ‘on the road’ have little or no interest in the bigger picture of the Club’s (and Killarney’s) future survival. They seemed content to leave the issues of the lease, noise abatement and continued co-operation with the City to the powers that be, while insisting that their short-term concerns be addressed immediately.
The majority of the issues raised from the floor had to do with competitors wanting more track time for their section. Particular concerns were the lack of access (and late notification of access) to the karting circuit on Monday afternoons for Short Circuit riders, a perceived lack of attention to track maintenance and possible safety issues, and not enough flow of information from SportsCom, which runs motorsport activities at the circuit.
In reply, the Chairman pointed out that SportsCom is not a nameless, faceless body; it is comprised of the chairmen of all the sections. Their primary duty is to bring the concerns of that section’s members to the attention of SportsCom and to carry the results of that attention back to the members.
The Birth of the Blower
The very first Blower (Vol. 1 No. 1), was published in June 1952 by the AARC, (the Cape’s upmarket motor club at the time). Other clubs included the CPMCC, the second oldest motor club in South Africa, the Mets, who originated the Killarney concept and the more social MG Car Club.
That original Blower was spawned by a typewriter, before being reproduced on a hand operated roneo machine and posted to club members. Although there were only four pages, it must have required quite an effort.
I was touched by the lyrics of a song on page 2. Composed by the editor, his advice to aspiring balladeers was that it should be sung to the tune of “Galway Bay.”
Here are 3 of the verses:
“Oh, if ever you’re in Cape Town in the summer,
Then maybe on a bright and sunny day,
You will go to watch the race at Gunners Circle;
And feel the great excitement of the fray.
Just to hear again the screaming of a blower,
The roar of exhaust notes from afar;
To fight a corded wheel between the Esses,
And smell again the fragrance of Castrol R
And if there is going to be a life hereafter,
I will ask the Great Chief Marshal when I die
That I be sent where all good drivers gather,
To live again those happy days gone by.”
In June 2004 the Blower reviewed Beverley Turner’s book: “The Pits; the Real World of Formula 1.” According to her, F1 is nothing but a sordid mercenary mess, a sport riddled with last century’s sexism. Incidentally, the 29 year old, who was the ITV female correspondent of F1, had film star good looks, a sharp wit and was extremely bright.
Her book portrayed the sport as a shallow, insular, money obsessed cesspit, devoid of team spirit. She felt it was not even glamourous as most of the people employed endure almost non-stop travelling and brutal hours of work, but were too scared to complain.
Her (she’s also a former model and competitive swimmer), experience of F1 sexism included being grabbed in the paddock area by Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore who brusquely informed her she would be having lunch with him that day. Unlike Naomi Campbell, she turned him down, claiming behaviour like that from a pot-bellied man in his 50’s, was offensive.
Apart from Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button, most of the other drivers are dismissed as being arrogant, complacent buffoons. Eddie Irvine come out the worst of all and is described as a pig. Her more experienced ITV colleague Murray Walker informed her that; “the bike crowd are a lot more friendly than those in F1.”
She quotes Kimi Raikkonen as telling her at the end of the 2003 season: “I love to compete in F1 events, but hate all the bullshit that goes with it.” He said the drivers were not even allocated grandstand tickets for family memb1ers.
Then there was the AGM report that appeared in the Winter 2006 edition. Now these functions are invariably poorly attended, but reasonably tranquil affairs. However a genuine contest for the chairman’s position that year, ensured that this one was different. The article was compiled by “Slasher” McKay, who laid claims to have been a boxer in his youth and it embraced an interestingly pugilistic turn of phrase — like:
“A typically rousing Michael Buffer style of intro had the reigning champion — Dangerous Denis Joubert at 59kg, with a record of 35 & 0, in the red corner.
In the blue corner, the challenger, Jack van der Westhuizen weighed in at 93kg. His record is one loss & no wins.
Despite his inexperience, Van der Westhuizen received vociferous support from the guys in his corner, and he came out fighting. But although he used his trademark jab to good effect, he was no match for his wily opponent. So much so that referee Neville (One Eye) Clark stopped the bout after 4 rounds (of Captain Morgan and coke).”
The story continued for a full page. Others mentioned included the promoter Lofty Landman, who managed to exercise a measure of control over the crowd that had earlier been free with their advice – and abuse. However they did become vocal again later, in appreciation of an impromptu display of repartee and glib tongue-twisting from a petite Moira de Jager.
There are many other wacky stories – but more later.
Lessons from Billy the Whizz and legless Alex.
Before that, let’s start with the tragic story of Taufig Carr (26), who was critically injured and lost both legs recently, after hitting a barrier on the N1 near Century City at an alleged speed of 320 km/h in his BMW M3. This during an illegal night drag race. A passenger in the car was fortunate to escape with minor injuries.
Sad from a family angle as well. Taufig’s wife is six months pregnant and the pair has two other young children. Unfortunately it was a story that made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
With run-off areas and marshals, as well as an ambulance and breakdown in attendance, official drag racing at Killarney is far safer for cars and bikes.
The police, who are investigating the incident, claim this type of illegal activity is particularly difficult to control. Their vehicles are clearly marked and have flashing lights. They are always visible from a distance and drag racing participants are easily able to outrun them.
Which of course is all part of the “the passion” as Taufig himself, described it.
Conjures up memories of the birth of stock car racing in the United States, that began during the Prohibition era before WW2. During this period, banned liquor was often delivered over country roads, in modified side valve V8’s that the frustrated cops were never able to nail.
The Prohibition Act in 1919 stopped the distribution and sale of any alcoholic beverages. Although an imposition of political insanity, it remained in force until 1933 when it was eventually repealed. The stock cars however prospered and with the aid of Bill France Sr in 1948, eventually went on to become the mighty NASCAR racing organisation.
But Taufig may be able to take heart from the experience of other motorsport double amputees, one of the most recent of whom, is Britain’s Billy “the Whizz” Monger.
Billy was only 3 when his dad decided it was time for a go-kart. By the age of 7 he was racing and by 10 had claimed his first British kart title. At 17 he made the switch to Formula 4, where he secured a drive with the JHR Development team.
His rookie year saw him on the podium three times. He went on to fare much better the following season (2017) and was in line for the title when he was involved in a horrific 2 car pileup during an event on the old GP circuit at Donington Park. His injuries were so severe that both legs had to be sacrificed in order to ensure his recovery.
But Billy remained a charismatic character who was hugely popular in motorsport circles. So much so that his team was soon able to raise over 500,000 (pounds sterling), towards his medical expenses. F1 drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Joylon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg all contributed generously.
Determined to return to the track, Billy announced he would be sharing the wheel of a Group CN Ligier with quadruple amputee Frederic Sausset, in Portugal. This, with a view to fielding a team of 3 disabled drivers in the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hour race.
Before that he made the trip to Brands Hatch where he tested a Fun Cup VW Beetle that was fitted with hand controls. The next step was to charm the FIA into relaxing the rule that restricted disabled drivers from competing in suitably adapted single seaters.
The result was that in February last year he drove a single seater for the first time since his crash. It was a British BRDC Formula 3 car and considerably more powerful than the F4 model he had become used to. The modifications included raising the brake pedal to allow him to apply pressure with the stump of his right leg and fitting a lever for the throttle control, onto the steering wheel.
Adapting to these changes was not easy and he didn’t win any races. However he did incredibly well in exalted company during his maiden season, to claim 2 pole positions, set 3 fastest laps and was able to take his place on the podium 4 times.
In a fitting tribute, the BBC produced a documentary entitled “Driven: The Billy Monger Story.” The teenager also received their “Helen Rollason Sports Personality of the Year” award.
But Billy was not the first disabled racing driver to hit the comeback trail.
Before him, Italy’s inspirational Alex Zanardi graduated from karting to F3, F3000 and finally to lowlife F1 teams like Minardi, Footwork, Lotus and (Sasol sponsored) Jordan, but with limited success. However he was always innovative and one of his unrewarded achievements was to popularise the art of spinning a stationary car — the so-called “donut.” .
His fortune changed with a move to the United States that resulted in him winning the Indy Car CART title in 1997 & ’98. But although it also secured him a drive with the Williams F1 outfit, accidents and other factors resulted in him being dropped at the end of his first season.
A return to the Indy-Car scene in America in 2001 was terminated abruptly when he spun during an early race. With his car stationary across the track it was split in half when it was hit amidships by one of the competitors who had been following him. Zanardi’s near fatal injuries included the loss of both legs, one at the hip and the other above the knee.
Always innovative, he spent considerable time during his period of recovery redesigning the custom legs he was going to have to wear for the rest of his life. Once this task was completed to his satisfaction, he returned to the track and began learning to drive (fast), with hand operated brake and throttle controls.
His competitive experience with prosthetic limbs began when he secured a seat with the BMW (Spain/Italy) team, in what was to become the World Touring Car Championship. With a raised brake pedal operated by his “longer” leg and a hand throttle, he took on the planet’s best unimpaired drivers and went on to win four events during his time with the team.
Not content with that, he became involved in more strenuous para-cycling as well. So much so that he filled a star role in the Paralympic Games in London in 2012 when he won gold medals in the time trial and the road race and silver in the mixed relay event. It was a stunning performance and resulted in him capturing the “Best Male” award.
In the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii where he had to swim 4kms, he used his handbike for the cycling section and a wheelchair for the running course. He did well to finish 19th out of 247 entries in the 45 to 49 year age group.
Incredibly, he has been lured back to motorsport this year and shared the wheel of a BMW twin turbo V8 in the Daytona 24 Hour Race in January. His car completed the event, finishing 32nd of the 48 entries.
There are some people in the world we should all concede are inspiring. Billy and Alex are two of them. We’re not sure about Taufig – yet.
Along the Track!
The Free State’s 17 year old Stuart White set a new Killarney sports car lap record of 1 min. 6.7 secs, In a Ginetta GT3, before the recent 4-Hour Campos 600. Unfortunately White and co-driver Craig Jarvis were forced to retire early in the event and did not feature in the results.
The new mark compares well with the time of 1 min 11.6 secs established in 1971 by the far more experienced Brian Redman, a former F1 and Ferrari sports car works driver, at the wheel of a Chevron.
Eddie Perk, a director the HGPCA (Historic Grand Prix Cars Association), and a selection of his committee members were here during our recent international Passion for Speed promotion. They were so impressed with Killarney and the general atmosphere at the meeting that they were talking about the possibility of a round of their championship being held in the Cape next year.
Had a welcome call recently from veteran bike racer and former drag champion Clive Wyngaard, who after chatting about the old days, said he thought it would be a good idea if members of more than 50 years standing, be awarded Life Membership. However he had encountered a technical snag when he put this to the club and was told that our membership records do not go back that far. Claimed it reminded him of the time way back (during the reign of a previous chairman), when he won a bike event where the first prize was 5 pounds (and a trophy), – but while he got the cup, he never received the money.
“IN MEMORY OF SINOTHANDO (SINO) YAPHI.”
Sino left us when he eventually succumbed to his horrific injuries after being stabbed several times, almost within sight of his home in Dunoon.
The 16 year old joined the CHD in April 2017 with the Wingfield Motors Development Team initiative, and Van Niekerk Racing. Like any first time teenage racing drivers it took a few laps for him to get comfortable in the new setting after just learning how to drive a car. His determination, practice and willingness to learn soon had him challenging top contenders of the pack.
Sinothando finished 3rd overall in his final event, the first podium position ever during his racing career. This proud moment left an ear to ear smile on his face that I will never forget. But rather than mourn the death of Sino, we celebrate his legacy that continues to live on at the CHD.
The ache of his passing has been replaced by the memory of this passion and love for motorsport. And with this being said, we welcome Marne and her family to the Junior Mini Class, wishing her a racing career full of enjoyment and great success. Thank you to the Swanepoel family for your tribute to Sino at the last race event, and for letting him race around the track one last time.
Sinothando will always be part of the Wingfield Motors & Van Niekerk Racing Team. We will forever race with him in our hearts. Sino has crossed the finish line of this life in pole position, leaving behind a family that will love him forever and ensure his legacy continues.
Rest in Peace Sino, your love lives on.”
~ Submitted by former double Mini champion, Ciara van Niekerk ~
On behalf of John van Niekerk, the R14 000 raised from the sale of Sino’s car (that had been the property of Van Niekerk Racing), as well as his racing helmet, was donated to his mother Yandiswa Yaphi at the CHD’s prizegiving on March 9.
A special thank you to the WPMC and the Cape Hell Drivers for their support and the help they extended to Sino during his short but tremendously enjoyable motorsport experience.
William Bernard (Bill) Bright (75), was a rally enthusiast whose special stage competitive activity was usually conducted in the company of Lance Cerff, in a selection of Fords. But he is far better known as having been the chairman of the CPMCC, the second oldest motor club in South Africa, from shortly after the Anglo/Boer War until he was elected hon. President in the 1980’s.
His achievements included negotiating a base for the club at Killarney. He also organised a rally special stage on Signal Hill and with the assistance of Tolken Toyota, brought SA championship rallying to the Cape. That branch of motorsport aside, he was also involved in staging national Off-road racing in the metropolis of Darling from 2003 until 2011.
Jean Bailey (68), wife of Jerry Bailey, former Western Province motorcycle and Formula Ford champion. She was the regional motorsport and rally awards secretary until they retired and relocated to Villiersdorp a while back.
Diane Chandler (43), It is with huge sadness that we learned on Tuesday 2 April of the passing of one of Killarney’s most well-known and popular marshals, at the young age of 43. Diane Chandler passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday morning, apparently from a heart attack.
Diane came from a family of petrolheads; her father Robert was a pit mechanic for stock-car racing driver Johan Pool at the old Goodwood showgrounds. She joined the Killarney marshals in 2012 and soon became part of the Killarney family – including a stint on radio control in race direction at the base of the control tower.
More recently she covered the New Pits on main circuit race days and officiated at corporate events – but her favourite job was marshalling the pre-race queue at straight-line events, where she knew all the regular competitors and they knew her as a friendly face whose primary concern was always their safety, and who could be both strict and outspoken when the occasion demanded.
She will always be remembered leaning into their cars with a grin and a joke to check that their helmet straps were tight and their seat-belts were working properly. Much as she enjoyed the fun and excitement of being in the middle of the action, she was always conscious that there was a serious side to marshalling – and not shy to tell you about it!
Diane will be sorely missed by the marshals, many of whom describe her as being more than a colleague, but a true friend who would hold your hand while you cried on her shoulder when you needed it. Always positive and upbeat, she enjoyed life to the full despite battling health problems.
The last time I saw her, at a Drag Racing meeting just three days before her death, she said she was tired and had a headache. “Was it a good party?” I teased her, “lots of beers?”
“It wasn’t the beers that was the problem,” she cracked back without hesitation. “It was the shots in between!” We’ll drink to that, Diane.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held for Diane Chandler in the Killarney Clubhouse on Sunday 14 April from 11:00am; until then our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.