History of Gymkhana

Having achieved virtually everything possible in his Ford Escort 1600 Sport Johann Zulch announced his retirement from rallying at the end of the 1997 WP season. A lack of funding to progress to a more modern and competitive vehicle one of the biggest motivaters but fortunately he remained active in his assistance with the promotion of the sport and organising of rallies under the Witzenberg Motorklub banner. Facing a similar dilemma as navigator “retirement”lasted until approached by a very determined David Louw. Unfortunately our season came to a very abrupt end in August 1998.

Rallying in the Cape was supported by a very popular inter club series known as the Pop’s Robert Trophy, initiated by CPMCC. I started navigating under the CPMCC banner, then moved to SWMC as I grew up in the area. Then chairman of the club, John Floyd, made it our business to win the trophy for the club and succeeded to do so five times whilst my involvement with the media (started as motorsport photo-journalist for the District Mail at age 13) led to the committee eventually awarding me the privilege of Honorary Life Membership. Representing the best motorsport monthly in the country at the time, Wiel, regional motorsport in the Western Cape received volumes of publicity at national level. It was fun being able to organise, compete, photograph (own processing and printing) and write articles in both English and Afrikaans.At times covering motorsport in three provinces during a calender month.

Being a member of the SAAF and eventually stationed at AFB Langebaanweg joining the Witzenberg Motorklub made logical sense as they were closest and as the youngest rally club and having limited rallying competitors we decided to build a name for the club by dedicating all our efforts to winning the coveted Pop’s Robert Trophy. So succeesful was this strategy that twelve consecutive victories saw the series disbanded when the balance of the rally clubs failed to take up the challenge. Statements were made that the events were not cost effective and enjoyed so little support it was no longer feasible and gymkhanas would never really become popular and and and. Having no choice the Witzenberg Motorklub concentrated on club events whilst considering their options for the future.

Middle 98 to middle 99 was effectively erased although the effects are still evident. Needing to regain control the concept of successful gymkhana events as training ground for future rallyists was a concept in which I firmly believed and a chance meeting with Roelof Troskie (then MD Club Mykonos Resorts Langebaan) provided the opportunity to put theory to the test. Lessons learnt during the Pop’s Robert era was addressed and things such as accurate timing, proper documentation, lack of commentary, accessibility for the man in the street, costs and facilities were all addressed before the first event started to take shape. Planned for a once per annum maximum entry of 30 teams we eventually ran 57 teams during the very first event under the Tygerberg Subaru banner.  Further discussions with Roelof led to a second event per annum and  then with the advent of the Club Mykonos Casino a dual route was introduced, capacity increased to 100 teams and still we needed a third event per annum to satisfy demand. The Terrace Gymkhana in Vredenburg took the total to five per annum and still the demand increased.

Being a small group of enthusiasts we simply could not keep up as our personal lives took a hammering and Danie Smuts offered to eventually organise a single event in the Wolseley district. Once again they started with a planned entry of 30 and found themselves running 50. Their second event was run in drenching rain and attracted 57 teams, once again resulting in the decision to grow to two events per annum. Then Mynhardt de Jongh arrived on the scene and events in Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay and Knysna were added to the calender, all over subscribed with entries. Requests have been received for events at Springbok, Vredendal, Worcester, Strand, Cape Town and Jeffries Bay as the concept of taking motorsport to the people really apply.

Being accessible to literally any category of vehicle the gymkhana events pit driver and navigator against the ultimate opponent, time, as well as each other. The format of these events provide spectators with 8 hours of uninterrupted motorsport action and their only expense is getting to the venues. Despite being 140km from Cape Town the Club Mykonos events attract capacity entries (100 teams) irrespective of alternative motorsport events clashing with dates and rugby at Newlands. As a venue Club Mykonos Langebaan have set the standard with various activities to keep the non motorsport members of the family occupied and a number of alternative activities have been presented by the organisers. The SAAF Silver Falcons aerial display team have entertained the crowds on more than one occasion, Stu Davidson have been present with his Sea Fury WWII Fighter plane, helicopter rides have been popular as have the current association with Bugaloo Adventures and their spectacular R.I.B. Add the spectacle of the Super Motards, powerful rear wheel driven cars and super fast front wheel drives, the individual characters, great commentary and pleasant atmosphere and it becomes obvious why these events work.

In fact I believe it reasonable to start considering a series of events in the Western Cape carrying championship status. A serious supporter of motorsport development such as Total would be a major asset where the winning team could be assisted in starting a career in rallying. Technical crews could be developed by assisting the newcomers and so much more. Feel free to evaluate the potential yourself by attending the Mahindra McCarthy Parow 20th Club Mykonos Resort and Casino Langebaan Gymkhana on 19 May 2007.