While the “new” circuit at Killarney is already well past its Golden Anniversary year, motor racing in the Cape began long before that.
The Mets (Metropolitan Motorcycle and Car Club), that was originally a predominantly motorcycle outfit, was formed in 1928. It was followed in 1938 by the A.A.R.C (Amateur Automobile Racing Club), one of the other partners in the eventual coalition of the four clubs that formed the W.P.M.C.
Killarney first saw action in 1949. And no history of the W.P.M.C., brief and incomplete as it may be, can be written without reference to its development.
It all began when the Divisional Council bypassed what was then a section of the main road to Malmesbury, at the Potsdam Outspan. This disused stretch was then acquired by the Mets for drag racing – or sprint events as they were first called. A section of the original road, picturesquely flanked by bluegums on both sides, still does duty today as our access road running from the main gate (now only used on race days), to the subway.
A major breakthrough came about shortly afterward when a link was built to transform the strip into a very basic circuit. Shaped much like a narrow triangle, it incorporated a tight hairpin, the remains of which can still be seen in the spectator area next to the Coppe Shoppe. It then linked near the subway before rejoining the original stretch.
In 1952 the Tower Bend and the Big Sweep were built. The potholed remains of these corners are today incorporated in the stretch of tarmac that circumnavigates the clubhouse, from the subway to the infield area. An urban motorsport legend has it that Billy Kay, the then chairman of the Mets, painstakingly measured the new circuit with a dressmaker’s tape measure. He eventually concluded it was 5 562 ft. X 9 ins. long, which translated into the modern idiom becomes 1.65 kms.
Killarney was raced in this form for several years before the final addition to the “old” track, a loop down towards what is now the Cape Town Corner, was constructed. Before this was completed there was considerable discussion as to where the Start/Finish should be located. It was finally agreed that this key position would be sited pretty close to where it is today, although all events on the original circuits were raced in an anti-clockwise direction.
During this period the motocrossers who had begun on the beach and in the dunes at Noordhoek and Sandvlei, also joined the club. Finally, with the formation of an active Drag section, Killarney became the first true motor sport complex in South Africa.
In 1959/60 the club negotiated a loan of R40 000.00 with the Cape Divisional Council for the purpose of building a new circuit to the then Formula One International Standard (1500 cc cars such as Lotus 18 and 22, that were slower than