I have several circuits which I liked a lot and some which I really did not enjoy at all. I am going to mention the circuits which existed in my early motor racing years – up until 1980 when I went to the UK to race.
As I have said in my previous blog, one of the first circuits I raced on was Goldfields Raceway. This was one of the circuits I really enjoyed as racing there was always a strategic battle to be placed optimally for the run down the long straight on the last lap. With the nature of Formula Fords of the time, slipstreaming was very important and it was possible to make up 8 or so car lengths down the straight. By judging this correctly it was possible to lead into the corner at the end of the long straight and then drive a “wide” car for the remainder of the lap and lead across the finish line. Sounds simple but it was not as all the drivers had the same idea. This led to some spectacular incidents in the braking area at the end of the straight.
A second circuit which no longer exists was Roy Hesketh in Pietermaritzburg, Natal. This was a really good circuit with a challenging sweep into a tight left hand turn onto the downhill main straight. At the bottom of the main straight was a tight steeply downhill left hander called Quarry. Braking correctly on the downhill straight was a challenge.
The original Kyalami was a fantastic flowing circuit with mostly fast corners. Tactical slipstreaming here was very important not only to the end of the long straight but also on the last lap from Leeuwkop to the start finish line. This was a long run so leading out of Leeuwkop invariably meant you had lost the race as it was possible to be overtaken by several cars before you got to the finish line.
There were only 2 other circuits used at the time – Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth and Killarney in Cape Town. Ironically these are the only two circuits which have remained unchanged in their layout since then and still exist today. Aldo Scribante is a shortish quite tight circuit with 2 challenging fast turns at Hanger sweep before the hairpin and Chevy sweep after the hairpin. Both a lot of fun and important for achieving good lap times. I enjoyed racing there but not to the same extent as Kyalami and Goldfields.
Killarney has only 5 corners of any importance. There are 2 kinks which may be a challenge for the faster categories but did not really count in Formula Ford’s. The 3 slow corners are really just slow corners. Nothing too exciting except for the braking for the last corner at the end of the fast back straight. The 2 fast corners – Damps and Malmesbury were both very important for achieving good lap times and really flowed together well when done correctly. Malmesbury especially was very important as the exit speed dictated your speed all the way down the long back straight.
So which were my favorites? Kyalami and Golfields without a doubt. I suppose Killarney ran a close 3rd followed by Roy Hesketh and Aldo Scribante in no particular order.
In later years when I returned from the UK we raced at several more circuits which I will discuss some other time. These are the GP Circuit in East London, Lichtenburg raceway, Phakisa – which replaced Golfields Raceway, Midvaal, Zwartkops and the revised (several times) Kyalami.
Until next time