During the late 1980’s we used to race on average about every third weekend. This took up an enormous amount of time as it entailed spending at least 2 days at a circuit for the race weekend – more if the event was far from Johannesburg – and then spending time during the next 2 weeks getting the cars checked and prepared for the next event. Usually we would go to a circuit the weekend before the next event to test the cars and make sure all was well.
This resulted in spending 2 weekends out of 3 racing and testing for the duration of the season which consisted of 12 races and usually ran from late February to early November. To be competitive took a lot of time, dedication and money.
Once in 1988 we were due to race in Lichtenburg and so went there the weekend before to do our testing and familiarize with the circuit which we raced at only once each year.
On this particular occasion I decided to call my 16 year old nephew Anton and see if he would like to spend the day with us at the track. I was not sure if he was keen to join us or just came along because I had made the offer and he did not want to turn it down and disappoint me. Whatever the reason he came along for the day.
We left fairly early as it was a long drive to Lichtenburg and got to the track late morning. There were several Formula Ford’s there that day all making use of the opportunity to do some testing. I did a few laps to get used to the circuit and then spent the next few hours trying out some different settings on the car to get the best performance for the race coming the following weekend.
I completed all the testing I needed to do by about 2.00 pm and then started to pack all the tools in preparation for the drive home. Before I loaded the race car onto the trailer I asked all the people testing if they would mind stopping for 15 minutes or so and then told Anton to get in the car and go out and do a few laps.
He thought I was joking with him but was very keen and after a couple of attempts got going and drove carefully around for a few laps. He then got a bit too brave and spun the car on the circuit but managed to keep going but I was not very brave and decided his time was up and called him in.
We loaded the car and headed off back to Johannesburg. I think he had had a pretty exciting day and could not wait to tell people he had driven the race car.
I dropped him off at home and then got home in the early evening. A long but successful day in a race season. All testing completed and no damage done.
At the time it did not seem an awfully special thing to do to allow a 16 year old boy to drive my car but as years have gone by Anton has occasionally commented on that day. This weekend just passed Tandy and I went to Sedgefield for a weekend break and Anton drove from Port Elizabeth to join us. It was his talking about that day that gave me the idea to write about now.
Until next time