The 2019 motorsport season at Killarney International Raceway starts with a high-octane big-bore rumble at Passion for Speed sponsored by G-Energy on Saturday 9 February.
Rumble being the operative word, with races featuring classes for monster V8-engined cars both classic and modern in the Pre-68 Legends and V8 Masters categories. You’ll also see (and more importantly, hear) screaming Ferraris, howling Lamborghinis and snarling Porsches battling it out for line honours in the G & H Extreme Supercar races.
This exotic national racing series is open to GT supercars and high performance sedans, led by a mix of GT3 sports racing cars and locally built GT racers.
Not all the entries are in yet but the pace setter in these races is expected to be Stradale Motorsport team principal Charl Arangies from Vereeniging in Gauteng, who will be bringing either his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 V12 or his Lamborghini Gallardo GT3. Either way, he will start as favourite, with entries expected from Simola Hillclimb hero Franco Scribante in his Porsche 997 Turbo, along with Jonathan Du Toit (Ferrari F430), Jonathan Shenkman (Lamborghini Gallardo), the Porsche 997 turbos of Nicky Dicks and Dino Scribante, Simon Murray’s very fast Lamborghini GT3, Greg Parton (Lamborghini Huracan), Gianni Giannoccaro (Lamborghini Gallardo) and Dawie Olivier in his giant-killing BMW M3 Turbo.
The Pre-66 Production Cars and Little Giants races will feature monster V8s such as Ford Fairlanes and Mustangs, big Chevrolet sedans, hot Corvettes and more from the golden age before fuel restrictions, mixing it with smaller and more nimble sports cars from the same period. Entries are expected from all over South Africa, as well as from Britain, Holland and Scandinavia for these international classic races.
A big field is expected for the Pre-1980 Classic and Invitation Cars, practically guaranteeing close racing. Topping the entry list are Robin Forbes’ thundering 5.7 litre Corvette Stingray and the Ford Sapphire V6 of Steve Hallet, who have already confirmed their participation. They’ll have to put foot, however, to stay with Franco Donadio’s indecently quick Cosworth-engined Ford Escort Mk1, which is expected to set the pace.
A surprise new entry in this category is the Ford Escort Mk1 of Willie Ras, also with 16-valve Cosworth power and nicknamed ‘Witblitz’, which is expected to be driven at this event by motorsport legend Sarel van der Merwe. If anybody can give Donadio and Forbes a hard time, it’s Supervan. Expect fireworks.
The V8 Masters are a one-make class based at Killarney International Raceway; the cars are all identical, powered by 300kW, 5.7-litre Ford Racing V8s. It’s all down to driver skill and nerve; the racing is always close and often robust – and the sound of more than a dozen big V8s powering down the straights has to be heard (and felt) to be believed.
They will be joined by another local one-make class, the two-litre Opel-powered Makita Supercars, which will make life very interesting for the Masters drivers when they start lapping the smaller cars in the closing stages.
The 45-minute South African Tourist Trophy race will be the second and final leg of this series for classic sports and GT cars, which has also attracted a number of international entries. In addition, there will be races for Historic single-seaters (including Formula One cars from the 1960s) as well as the Mikes Place Clubmans series – regional racing at its very best, with huge entries and frantic dicing throughout the field. It’s not unusual to see local hotshots competing just as fiercely for 30th position as for the lead.
During the lunch break there will be a parade of classic motorcycles.
Use Killarney’s free shuttle service to visit the pits between races (the paddock is open to spectators all day) and get a closer look at the exotic cars and bikes that make Passion for Speed sponsored by G-Energy a unique motorsport event – and also to refuel at the Trackside Pub and Grill, the Tuck Shop or the New Pits Lounge, all of which will be serving food and drinks.
Visit the G-Energy stand on the lawn in front of the Clubhouse, which will take on a festive air with memorabilia vendors and activities for petrolheads-in-training at Kiddies’ Korner.
The shaded terrace of the New Pits Lounge offers a spectacular view of the Porsche Club Straight, the old pits and the start-finish line, while the upstairs balcony of the Clubhouse overlooks the fastest corner on the circuit, the 160km/h Jaguar Sweep – just watching the thundering V8 Masters go through there, bucking and twitching on the very limit of adhesion, is enough to give you goosebumps.
Because that is what it’s all about: watching motorsport on television can’t match the sound and the fury of the real thing – you have to be there to feel it. The gates open at 7.30am and racing starts at 9.30am. Book at Computicket (https://online.computicket.com/web/event/passion_for_speed_2019/1295596935) or pay at the gate; entry is R100 for adults, R40 for scholars under 16 and free for kids under 12.