Legends Honoured

How many individuals passing by the impressive display of race – rally – exotic cars and motorcycles truly had any understanding of what they were glancing at in their rush towards their next point of call. Though there were many beautiful cars on display most could potentially be found outside on our roads – the one just flashier than the next – but still only a means of transport from point A to B.

Then, the exotic element, where the yellow Lamborghini, or Aston Martin Vanquish, or Ariel Atom, or even the Ford GT40 could steal the limelight – but only until you realise it’s because you cannot afford it. They are magnificent machines in their own right and each have a proud history which one could debate for many an hour. Aston Martin celebrating their centenary with a magnificent Vanquish on display whilst the iconic GT40 turns 50.

Across the aisle there were two Masters V8 on display. The one driven by 250GP Karting ace Marcel Angel and the other by former SA F1 legend Eddie Keizan and though few would argue that these were indeed worthy of a longer pause the real value of these cars was as reminder of their creator – Owen Ashley.

Niki Lauda once made the statement that as racing driver you would enjoy support from a 100 people when you are winning, 80 when finishing second, 50 when finishing third and nobody when finishing fourth or lower. Sadly, in a sport where finishing second makes you the first loser he could not have been more accurate in his assessment.

Age certainly comes to mind but how many can really relate to the fact that Eddie Keizan led the final F1 race at Killarney, almost to the chequered flag! How many would identify him as the man who created the Tiger Wheel & Tyre empire from humble beginnings? Or the fact that it is indeed an honour to still see him race competitively at Killarney.

Then there is the name of Danie Maritz to be found amongst the four racing motorcycles on display. Danie “van Killarney” Maritz is as much part of the history of motorcycle racing at Killarney as “braai” to South Africa. Would you recognise him when he walks past you today?

Something is very wrong when these legendary drivers / riders are simply considered another past result. Their very presence today is what is required to motivate the youth to achieve more tomorrow. They are the walking, talking, encyclopaedia on South African motorsport history and should be invaluable assets known by all!

Thanks to the “powerful” economy most of the cars driven by these same legends have also left our shores, but thankfully, there are people like Ferdi van Niekerk, Nicci Hanekom, Dave Köpke, Lourens van Rensburg, and Allan Martin who share the passion to see their legacy grow.

There will be those who would object to the fact that most of the cars on show were in fact replicas, but then, as long as you keep those objections to yourself, we do not mind at all. Most of us will applaud Canal Walk for the manner in which they celebrated the legacy of five, Western Cape based,  South African motorsport legends!

The Ford Escort BDA is still considered one of the most iconic rally cars of all time and the pristine example of Lourens van Rensburg represented a golden era of the sport in South Africa.  Sarel van der Merwe (11x SA Rally Drivers Champion) and Serge Damseaux (10x SA Rally Drivers Champion) both enjoyed fruitful stints behind the wheel of the BDA Ford. Sarel unfortunately could not be present as he was busy with his Spirit of Africa adventures but Serge Damseaux found the time to strap himself into an old friend.

In recent times Sarel van der Merwe have been very active behind the wheel of a 1965 Lazarus Ford Galaxie 427ci V8 and Ferdi van Niekerk kindly provided his personal 5.4m 1.7 ton “block of flats” to be displayed at Canal Walk. Based on the American NASCAR series these mammoths are now considered very much a part of the South African Classic Car scene.

Was it not for horrible injuries sustained during an endurance race in Bulawayo the name of Peter Gough would have undoubtedly echoed internationally such was his dominance of the South African saloon car scene behind the wheel of the legendary Willie Meissner Ford Escort. The pink Selford Stellenbosch Ford Capri Perana V8, affectionately known as Miss Piggy, created in honour of this legendary driver.

The Mazda R100 Rotary of Dave Köpke similar to the car that nearly claimed Peter in Bulawayo but also a stepping stone in the career of the only South African Formula One World Champion, Jody Scheckter. A popular entry into the Springbok Endurance Series in South Africa both Peter and Jody were incredibly quick in what was certainly unusual racing machines for their time.

Unfortunately a fitting replication of “Hoendertjie” proved impossible to find but the presence of Jess Huggett was indeed a welcome equivalent. Few realise that this humble racer actually have the most South African Motorsport titles behind his name. Though not even Jess can pin an exact amount to it anyone is welcome to contest this fact. In oval track racing he is legend and combined with Hoendertjie was possibly the best known combination ever to lap Goodwood. Handy at all forms of motorsport Jess actually took overall victory in the Midas Clubmans races during the Killarney Pro Tour event in his class B VW Jetta 2.0 on Saturday 4 May 2013.

Another forgotten ace present at Canal Walk was 5x South African GP 250 / 350 class motorcycling champion, Martin Paetzold. Another humble racer turned wizard suspension tuner the Winston ace certainly took no prisoners during his era. Five of the greatest Western Cape motorsport personalities of all time under one roof simply have to make the 2013 Canal Walk Motor Show exceptional.

If anything, this is the type of event that needs to take place more often. Watch this space as the 2013 Wings & Wheels Show is set for AFB ysterplaat on 7-8 December 2013!

To Serge Damseaux – Peter Gough – Martin Paetzold – Jess Huggett and Koos Swanepoel Snr – we were honoured by your presence!

To Ferdi van Niekerk – Dave Köpke – Lourens van Rensburg and Nicci Hanekom – thank you for the presence of your pride and joy!