The 2017 South African circuit racing season gets underway at Zwartkops Raceway this weekend when over 300 vehicles take to the circuit for the annual Passion for Speed event. Cars rule the roost on Friday and Saturday with bikes taking over on Sunday.

Sarel van der Merwe and Hennie Groenewald will be back in action this weekend

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

Perennial crowd favorites, the V8-powered Legend Saloons, will top the menu and, if last year is anything to go by, Sarel van der Merwe (Ford Galaxie) is likely to have his hands full trying to hold off Hennie Groenewald (Plymouth Fury) and the rest of the pack which includes Holland’s Michiel Campagne (Ford Galaxie), Willie Hepburn (Studebaker Golden Hawk), Leeroy Poulter (Black Widow Chev BelAir), brothers Mark (Chevy Biscayne) and Jonathan du Toit (Chevrolet Nova),  Paolo Cavalieri (Ford Galaxie) and Ferdi van Niekerk (Ford Galaxie).

The quickest cars on the day are likely to be in the International Sports Racing Club field, which will celebrate 20 years of coming to South Africa. Entries here include a Can-Am tribute car, international Chevrons, McLarens, and Porsche 917s.

The South African Tourist Trophy for Pre-1966/68 cars, a 45-minute race that includes a compulsory pit stop, will see McLarens, Lolas, Ford GT40s, Daytonas, Cobras and Ginettas fighting for the title.

The under two-litre Pre-1966 Saloon cars will produce battles between Minis, Alfa Romeos, Lotus Cortinas, Volvos and BMWs to stir memories of the old Kyalami and Grand Central among those senior enough to recall those original racetracks, while the Pre-’66 Little Giants GSM Darts, a Mini Marcos, a Volvo P1800, Mini Coopers, MGAs, MGBs, Alfa Giuliettas, a Marcos, Anglias, Cortinas and a Renault Dauphine will be in action and Pre-1966/68 Production Sports and GTs, with six Austin Healeys, TVRs, Morgans and E-Type Jaguars will deliver unique action on track..

Pre-1984  Production car races will draw over 60 entries headed by  Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs, Volvos, Alfa Romeos, Volkswagen Sciroccos and Renault Gordini, while the Pre-1974 single seaters features old F1 and similar racers including a BRM and ex-works Cooper Climax, plus more modern Wings and Slicks cars from the Formula Atlantic era.

The G&H Extreme Supercars will also be in action

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

For race fans that prefer more modern vehicles, the opening round of the G&H Transport Extreme Supercar championship will provide plenty of entertainment. The best of South Africa’s GT and super saloon racers will turn on the style in a field of modern classics with the arrival of reigning SA endurance champion Simon Murray in the class aboard a GT3-specification Lamborghini and multiple national champion Leeroy Poulter at the wheel of a McLaren McLaren 650 adding spice to an already impressive field.
But don’t write off Charl Aranges, who has enjoyed winning form in his Pirelli Stradale Lamborghini of late, or his teammates, RDG driver Sam Hammond or Jonathan Schenkman’s OCC version.
Mark du Toit is another Ferrari man ready to fight for the win in his Trans Africa Racing 360 Challenge, with series sponsor G&H Transport’s Jimmy Gianoccaro, Andre van der Merwe (Stradale) and Loris Chiappa (Morris) racing similar machines.
Dino Scribante is another definite candidate for victory in his Porsche 911 and Jason Campos will challenge for the win in his BMW M3 GT and there are several wildcards among the GT entries, not least the KTM Crossbows that thrive on tight and twisty Zwartkops, where Deon du Plessis (BPT) and Greg Parton (Drizit Environmental). They will be keen to exploit that advantage while Oliver Dalais will be out in his Marlboro Crane Bailey GT.
All the GT cars will however have their work cut out by a strong field of production-based racer cars, not least of all being Franco di Matteo, who is clearly out to teach all the BMWs out there a lesson in his spectacular new Alfa Romeo GT. Franco reckons he’s sorted his spectacular black car’s early glitches and he cannot wait to take it to Bavaria’s finest.
Talking BMWs, there will be a literal swarm of them out there — not least of all Dawie Olivier in the so-called G&H Transport Baby Beemer — a mad race weapon that should even keep the GT frontrunners on their toes. Dawie is one of a fleet of G&H Beemers in the hands of Ricky Gianoccaro (M3 GTR), Kuet Bakewell (328i), while Adrian Dalton (Xtra Clothing M3), Desmond Bloem (Custom Shop M3), Darren Winterboer (Barons 335i), Paul Hill (Kalex 335i) and the Z4s of Ryan Quan-Chai (RDG/Leeson) and Marius Wait (Trans Africa Racing) will all fly the BMW flag.

Sunday is the day for lovers of two-wheeled action.

The Historic Motorcycle Group will bring more than 60 bikes to the party, scheduled to perform a number of demonstration runs around the circuit.

Two races for Isle of Man TT Classic bikes will see entries like Brian Ellard (Yamaha FZ), Gordon Grigor (Suzuki Wes Cooley), Ian Simpson (Suzuki XR 69), Graeme van Breda (Suzuki GSXR), Jason Joshua (Suzuki Katana), Carl Tiffany (Honda CBR 400) and Gary Edwards (Suzuki Katana) on the grid.

More modern action will come from the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters and the Bridgestone Challenge, Bridgestone Thunderbikes and Bridgestone Sub-10 Superbikes.