There was a high drama and heartbreak the national finals of Bragging Rights presented by the Western Province Motor Club, Race SA, GHC Drift Outlaws and Spin Outlaws, VP Racing Fuels, Gas Magazine and the City of Cape Town at Killarney on Saturday 20 November.

The drama at this three-in-one blockbuster event featuring some of South Africa’s fastest drag racing cars and motorcycles, as well as the country’s top drifting exponents and the most skilled spinners, included Lenzey Henry losing control of his Suzuki GSX-R1000 and hitting the ground at more than 240km/h while his bike was catapulted more than six metres into the air and broke into three pieces.

Ralph Kumbier, pushing hard with a stiff south-easter behind him, couldn’t stop his heavy Pro Mod Chev Camaro in time to make the turn at the end of the strip and ploughed into the safety net – but not before winning his class in a new personal best time of 8.277 seconds at 267.52km/h.

Neither was seriously injured, although Henry reportedly suffered some serious bruising and a small road rash; he will be very stiff for a few days!

The day started with the arrival of the newly elected Mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, who welcomed all the visiting competitors. Drifting and spinning, he said, were among the fastest-growing sports in the Western Cape and events such as Bragging Rights boosted Cape Town’s hospitality industry, helped created jobs and promoted social cohesion – bringing people together in pursuit of a common passion.

“It’s important that we provide a safe area, a facility for the sport to take place and for these various events to take place so that we can it off the public streets,” he said. “We get it here into a purpose-built track and facility for them so that fans, spectators can come and enjoy it in a safe environment and we can really support the growth and popularity of the sport in cape town.”

Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security JP Smith, himself an admitted motorsport enthusiast, said the event was important for its entertainment value (“One must have fun!”), for promoting Cape Town as a motorsport destination and for helping to get grassroots racing off the streets and into a safe and controlled environment.

“We need Killarney,” he said. “Experience has shown that once a race-track closes down, anywhere in the world, it is never re-opened or replaced.

“Now let’s see if we can make the mayor’s teeth chatter!”

Cape Town’s youngest-ever First Citizen was then strapped into Juan Stemmet’s drift car, powered by a supercharged Ford 302 Boss engine, and taken for two intense sideways runs around the Drifting course, with smoke pouring from the rear wheels of Stemmet’s car. Afterwards, he said he could understand how the adrenalin rush of high-power motorsport was so addictive.

A little later he enjoyed two high-speed runs down the quarter-mile (402 metres) drag strip, one in organiser Nazeer Loonat’s Porsche and one in Renzo Torrente’s scary fast BMW M3, driven on the day by ‘horsepower whisperer’ Ashfaaq Bux. The mayor admitted after the second run that he had been unable to film it on his phone because his hand had been pushed back against his chest by the force of the car’s acceleration!

The formalities over, racing got underway with roaring engines, smoking tyres and cheering spectators revving up the competitors to ‘leave it all on the strip’, which some of them literally did; at least one car left its prop-shaft lying on the start line of the drag strip.

Over on the oval, local hero Juan Stemmet had the crowd cheering when he walked away with the National Drift King title, while the coveted white cap and the right to call himself South Africa’s Spin King went to Sunesh ‘Sushi’ Pursad from Benoni in his BMW 325 after a closely fought final that took four different camera angles and several recounts to decide the winner.

The fastest run of the day on the drag strip was laid down by Hermann Mostert from George in his 2JZ-powered Nissan Champ bakkie ‘Jack Russell’ with a superb pass at 8.011 seconds at 271.30km/h. His was the only entry in the Exhibition Class for cars with the proven capability of breaking into the sevens.

Class SO for cars rated at 8.5 seconds or less was won by Kumbier’s Camaro, although it was an expensive victory as the car will need a new body from the firewall forward.

As always, the motorcycles were up there with the fastest of the cars, as Cobus van Wyk from Johannesburg set a new Class SB (open motorcycles) course record for Killarney with a superb 8.505 second pass at 263.99km/h on his BMW S1000RR.

Class O for cars running nine seconds or less was taken by local hero Talha Daniels in ‘Barrascort’ (a UK-built Mk1 Ford Escort with an Australian Ford ‘Barramundi’ straight-six engine) at 8.759 seconds and 243.37km/h, while Class SL for cars quicker than 9.5 seconds went to Terry Yannikakis’ Mazda F1000, with a superb 9.651 second run at 195.26km/h.

Class L, for 10 second cars (rated at 9.99 seconds or less) provided the closest finish of the day. Jody van Schoor’s VW Mk1 and Shaun Zurich’s immaculately prepared Honda Civic, said to be the quickest naturally aspirated front-wheel drive car in South Africa, were almost side by side over the line (the difference was quoted as 2.067 metres) but nobody would say who was in front because Zurich was excluded for red-lighting. It was heartbreak for Zurich but a win for Van Schoor, who was timed at 9.748 with an exit speed of 242.01km/h.

Morgan Smith won Class TL for cars quicker than 10.5 seconds in his Volkswagen Golf Mk1 with a best effort of 10.416 seconds at 222.43km/h, and Ross Abrahams in an almost standard-looking VW Golf 7R just took Class EL for cars rated at 11 seconds or better with a 10.971 pass at 208.55km/h.

Class PS (12 seconds or quicker) went to Jay Williams in a VW Golf at 11.543 seconds and 151.72km/h, Class SS (13 seconds or quicker) was won by Nazeer Gabriel’s BMW E30 with a 12.025 pass at 167.14, and the entry-level class for cars running quicker than 14 seconds was taken by Sean Naidoo, who clocked a very creditable 13.04 seconds at 151.23km/h in his Honda Civic.

But the real winners on the day were the fans, cheering and heckling the competitors as only Capetonians can, thrilled to be back at Killarney to see a top-level drag racing, drifting and spinning event for the first time in almost two years.