E-Blower Vol.15

Hi All,
 
Please see link below to the E-Blower Vol 15 or find the edited copy below (without pictures).
 
 
Regards
WPMC team
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The E-Blower   vol. 15

 

The (un)official voice of the WPMC.

Managing editor: IM Nobody. Chief Sub (editor, not marine): Robin P Emslie. Art Director: J Colin Brown. Motorcycle editor: Dave Abrahams. Joe King (often prefaced by his nickname, “Only”). Known for his quirky sense of humor, Joe is a new staff member.

 

Editorial.

Volume 14 (and a half), of the E-Blower, published at the end of 2013 included the good news about the reprieve of the exorbitant rates account that we had received from the council.

Unfortunately the current volume includes some rather sad tidings. It’s about the passing of two long serving members, both of whom were genuine larger than life characters. But while Neville Clark (The Moan Ranger), and Piet (Railway) Geldenhuys, were real enthusiasts who never hesitated to express their sometimes controversial opinions, they each did it their way. Piet used his tongue – often with a turbo boost that far exceeded the approved decibel limit — while Neville always believed the pen was a far more effective weapon (he never became computer literate).

And although their obituaries are the most comprehensive yet published in this mag, there just wasn’t space for all the outrageously rib tickling stories about them. What we have been able to use appears at the tail end of this volume.

Then as we were going to press came the bombshell about the tragic death of the brilliant Neil Hawkins.

As far as motorsport’s attraction for strange lads is concerned, our article on that subject illustrates several cases of different strokes for different folks. But as this is already the biggest ever edition, we once again haven’t used all the stories and we’re keeping the rest for the next edition.

Then, how is the proposed new national motorbike show going to affect us?

Seeing the cheerful David Piper here again during our recent historic Ration of Passion, we thought we’d recount his rather unsatisfactory first contact with Cape Town race organizers.

Finally, we even have a Situations Vacant column in this issue. Club members receive preference so if you’re interested, contact us.

Meet the Workers.

Turns out our Safety and Security Manager Paul Lehmann has an extensive family connection with local motorsport. Grandpa (Willie Lehmann), served as an RAC scrutineer, while great uncle Erich Lehmann was a leading competitor in the “specials” days during the 1950’s. Aunt Hilda was a rally navigator, while father Bob tuned racing motorcycles.

As a result Paul has been a regular here since he was four years of age. A marshal since 1985, he became a post chief later in the same year, before being appointed chief marshal for karting in 1986. After qualifying as a clerk of the course, he served karting in that capacity on a regional as well as national basis.

He was also competitively involved in karting as well as 4×4 extreme challenge events. He is currently an active participant in Superkart racing on the short circuit.

Although a Tool and Die maker by trade, he took up his full time position with our club in 2007 and was elected chairman and head honcho of the marshals section shortly after that.

Summing up, Paul has officiated as a CoC, marshal or steward at various types of motorsport events since 1985, never missing a single year.

Why does motorsport attract so many wacky guys?

Relaxing during the festive season, I got to thinking about the wacky and sometimes unsavoury characters that have been attracted to our sport. Of course it often begins at the top, with guys like Bernie Ecclestone who has a 240 million pound lawsuit pending, after his Bambino family trust allegedly paid a 27.5m bribe to have a stake in Formula 1 undervalued when it was sold to the private equity firm CVC in 2006.

Last month a British high court judge referred to him as being “untruthful and corrupt.”

Before that, the shrewd Bernie had donated one million pounds to the British Labour Party, a move that was followed by F1 being exempted from the ban on tobacco advertising in the UK. Rumour has it that a similar offer made to Nelson Mandela was declined.

Max Mosley resigned from his position as President of the FIA, the controlling body of world motorsport, after attending a Nazi fancy dress party with five hookers. More recently, Francois Pretorius, the CEO of MSA (Motorsport, South Africa) and Allan Wheeler, MSA’s non-circuit sporting manager, both resigned abruptly.

According to a highly critical article in Noseweek, before Pretorius took up his MSA post he allegedly sold privately owned Porsches at discounted prices and then kept the proceeds. Wheeler resigned from his position with the Johannesburg municipality at about the same time.

After the Phakisa bubble burst some years ago, Noseweek also published an article about Bobby Hartslief and Webster Mfebe, the Free State MEC for sport, art, culture, science and technology. It was entitled South Africa’s Grand Pricks.

Among the high living playboys, former Ferrari F1 driver Eddie Irvine has received a six month jail sentence after a brawl with a prominent Italian, over a girl. He is now relying on his lawyer to ensure the sentence is suspended.

But the one I like best — that came from former Lotus technocrat Cedric Selzer — is about the motorsport connection with the notorious Great Train Robbery in 1963. As many are aware, the bad guys hijacked a train carrying used banknotes from Scotland to London, to be destroyed by the Bank of England. The robbers got away with 2.6 million pounds which would be equivalent to about R805m today.

Now one of the gang was the multi talented Roy James, an up and coming racing driver. A quality silversmith by trade, James’ jewellery was of such high quality that it accepted by Harrods. He was also an experienced car thief and much in demand as a getaway driver by the London underworld. Lastly, he was an expert cat burglar.

When Roy bought a Brabham BT6, he arrived to collect the single seater with a suitcase full of cash, something that was almost unheard of in those days. It resulted in some jokers claiming he must have robbed a bank.

They didn’t realize how close to the truth they were. He had actually used his cat burglary skills to break into a luxury Knightsbridge home and get away with enough to fund his motor racing needs.

After the train robbery, the gang shacked up on a nearby farm. While there, they wore gloves to avoid fingerprints. When they finally moved out, Roy (who loved cats), instinctively left a final saucer of milk for the resident feline. Unfortunately as he was not wearing his gloves Scotland Yard was able to match his prints. It resulted in him being handed a 25 year sentence that was later commuted to 11 years.

Ironically, he had just been offered a F1 test drive by Brabham that he was unfortunately not able to accept.

Although he went back to racing after his release, he crashed badly and broke both ankles. This was followed by another six years for shooting his father-in-law. He died aged 61 after a failed triple bypass operation.

Years later, after former F1 world champion Mike Hawthorn’s death, Mike’s British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) badge, engraved with his name, was offered to the club by Dave Brodie, who was also a member. However the secretary refused to accept it as it had been reported stolen.

What had happened, was that prior to the train robbery, Roy had nicked Hawthorn’s Jaguar. He then changed the number plates and used it as the getaway car in another heist. Afterwards – in a manner comparable to his feelings for the cat — he thought it only fair that as a fellow racer the Jag should be returned. So he parked it outside the popular Steering Wheel Club in Mayfair.

But he kept the BRDC badge that he had found in the car and gave to Brodie, who was sick in hospital at the time. When the story came out, the badge was gratefully accepted and it still takes pride of place in the BRDC clubhouse.

And what about Killarney?

Killarney has also had its odd personality problems. The first of these was back in the 1950’s when a Porsche 356 that had been entered by a local used car dealer, was repossessed on the start line.

But that was nothing compared to the machinations of the charming Marius van der Westhuizen and Eben Greyling, who were undoubtedly in a class of their own. Eben was the high flyer with a historic F1 car based in Europe, a helicopter, a Ford GT40 and a takeover bid for Owen Ashley’s motorsport business.

Operating through a company based in Hong Kong, he ran a financial operation that promised investors magnificent returns. And while our club never suffered financially, members like Peanuts Fouche, who claims to have lost over R90,000 when parts he manufactured for Greyling were never paid for, are still looking for him.

Marius came across as more of a homespun father figure, soft spoken and always willing to help competitors in need – in the very best Robin Hood tradition. Although his Pro-Team did not always have the greatest drivers, with the exception of a clean shaven young Deon Joubert, (pictured left above in a hole), they were certainly well cared for.

Sadly Marius and Eben both disappeared suddenly and we have no idea what happened to Eben after his initial 10 year stopover. By contrast, when Marius took his own life in the grounds of the Durbanville police station two years ago, he left the club a rich legacy in the form of the spacious workshop and pit garage block he had been responsible for.

Why David Piper’s entry wasn’t accepted.

Although he has probably notched up more South African victories than any other overseas racing driver, a young David Piper’s first attempt to compete here in the Cape was a rather frustrating flop.

It happened in 1957 when he submitted an entry for his Lotus 11 to compete in an international event being organized on the WW2 airfield at Eerste Rivier. Now he had already been accepted by the local committee, (I think it was the Tex Kingon Motor Racing Organizers), when they received news that they could do a better last minute deal with New Zealanders Ray Thackwell and Ronnie Moore in a pair of F2 Climax powered Coopers and Irish aristocrat Lord Louth, who had one of the first D-Type Jaguars.

Piper claims that he (and his car), were already booked on the Union Castle mailship. What’s more, he had even bought a dinner jacket specifically for the trip when he heard his entry had been cancelled. He was not amused.

Meanwhile the three late entries arrived during the festive holiday season. Accommodation was at a premium and they had not made any prior arrangements. Fortunately, Alex Strauss who was mine host at the up-market Clifton Hotel, was also a genuine motorsport enthusiast. So we were able to organize the best rooms overlooking 4th beach, in the hotel’s annex, for our visitors. They were extremely grateful. In fact they were so chuffed, the party began immediately.

Now while all this was tough on Piper, the Kiwis were genuine professionals and proved an excellent investment. Although Eerste Rivier was a dreadful circuit, they mixed it with our national champion Bill Jennings in his 1500cc Riley Special in both races, to the delight of the large crowd.

The 16th Earl of Louth (his full name was Otway Michael James Oliver Plunkett), seemed to be here mainly for the after-race parties and his performance in the D-Type was disappointing. However it did give everyone a sight of one of these famous cars

Is the new SA Superbike Series a Lot of Hot Air?

Gas Sports, the promoters of the recently announced ‘SuperGP’ national motorcycle series, seem to have dived headlong into murky waters with the publication of their draft 2014 calendar, which includes a ‘to be confirmed’ round on August 24 on a street circuit in Durban.

That may not be quite as dodgy as it sounds – the so-called street circuit will apparently be a Michael Rodent track laid out with cones on a disused airport, of which Durban has two, not counting King Shaka.

Of more concern to Killarneyites is the proposal that race weekends be structured as per international practice with practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday – including round three of the series at Killarney on Sunday 18 May. Since Killarney is closed on Sundays due to noise concerns, one wonders how they are going to manage that.

Anyway, while there have been discussions, the proposed new series has not yet been officially approved by MSA.

This all-motorcycle national racing circus will have races for six classes, headed by SuperGP, a unique South African 'evo' category for litre-class production machines with limited modifications.

Similar near-standard limitations will apply to the 600cc Super600 class, while the Superbike and Super600M support classes will be equivalent to the current SA Superbike and Supersport categories, which allow for considerable (and very expensive) modifications.

Ironically, this means that the 'supporting classes' will be significantly faster than the premier-class bikes…

They’re also planning a Supermasters class for riders over 35 on either SuperGP or Superbike machinery and a Supertwins category for bikes up to 1200cc, which could just deliver the most exciting racing on the programme.

Blips ‘n Pieces.

If you spotted a talkative, short guy with long hair, wearing a kilt or tartan trousers and wandering around like any tourist last month, that was former triple F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. He flew in and spent a few days here before boarding the Queen Mary on January 27 and carrying on to Australia.

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Incidentally, did you know that Red Bull – F1’s dominating force — was originally the team that wee Jackie and his son Paul launched as Stewart Racing and then sold to Jaguar / Ford.

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Of course Jody Scheckter was also here during the festive season. Although he’s now one of Britain’s most successful organic farmers, he still manages to spend quality time at his Clifton holiday home whenever possible.

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The subject of exclusive facilities for members came up during a recent meeting and as a result it has been decided that one of the bomas along the back straight may be set aside for this purpose on race days. There are braai facilities and the clubhouse will be able to operate a pub there.

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Former F1 technocrat Cedric Selzer is back in the Cape for a while and has arrived with copies of his book that we ran a brief review of in the E-Blower (vol. 14). Titled: “If you’ve come second, you have lost,” it’s about the time he spent with Jim Clark, looking after the double F1 world champion’s Lotus. Available at the club office, it’s only R195 and well worth reading.

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Then its congratulations to our own Terri Brand, who in addition to her office duties, operated the cumbersome low bed breakdown trailer all on her own at one stage during the recent international historic gig. This included hitching up a Ford GT40 that was stuck in the dirt outside Turn 4, with 4 (yes, four) flat tyres. She then winched the unit up and secured it on board before manoeuvering the full catastrophe into the pit area. And all that by a 23 year young lass.

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Now while “Lightning” Leite may be described as a “ringer” by club members who drive on the golf course as well as the track, after his effort at the same meeting, we feel it deserves some form of commendation. Because the slick manner in which he picked his way through the extremely large field to win his class in both races, after failing to qualify and starting from the back of the grid, would have been an object lesson to even the best Du-noon taxi drivers.

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Clubhouse regulars will have noticed the smoking and non-smoking pub switcheroo upstairs. While not popular with everyone when first announced, management had no option as the smoking laws continue to tighten. The change was in operation for the first time during the historic meeting and seemed to work well.

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This one’s for a minority group. They’re the motorsport photographers who submit acceptable samples of their work (that has been published), and pay the necessary fee to MSA in Jo-burg. They then receive a badge and accreditation to ply their trade inside the circuit. Now a few seem to think the MSA card gives them the right to do this anywhere they please. Not so. Our meetings are controlled by the clerk of the course and he/she has sole jurisdiction over which areas are safe for human habitation. The marshals form part of his/her line of command, so you shutterbugs are obliged to listen to them.

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Interested in winning a R3000 Cellucity hamper that includes the latest mobile phone? Well listen to the commentators at the start of the lunch break during Saturday’s Power Tour meeting, enter the sms competition and it could be yours.

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Employment offered.

Our clubhouse manager Yvette Wolverson is looking for waitrons for duty in the clubhouse and the Trackside Pub and Grill. This is a full time job in pleasant working conditions. We also need a barmaid/hostess for occasional duty in the VIP Lounge on race days. Contact the club office on 021 5571639.

And here’s an appeal from the chief commentator Brian Peek who’s looking for assistant commentators for main circuit events. Applicants will need to be able to speak clearly in English or Afrikaans (a similar command of both would be even better), and preferably have at least a basic knowledge of local conditions and personalities. Contact the club office.

Obituaries.

We lost a trio of good men and true, when Piet Railway and the Moan Ranger left us in December. Sadly, they were followed by Neil Hawkins on February 7.

Neville Clark (77), was originally a biker who joined the old Mets club before becoming a founder member of the WPMC after the amalgamation. An accountant by profession, he served in that capacity as a backroom grafter during our Goodwood Motor Show. Later he did the same for the Cape Hell Drivers and our club’s motocross section. He also controlled the Coppe Shoppe to the extent of actually mowing the lawn himself, for many years.

The club’s self appointed ombudsman and an enthusiastic letter writer to various publications, the title was bestowed on him when “The Legend of the Moan Ranger (a true story),” was published in the anniversary Blower in 1986.

Illustrated with an excellent cartoon by Rufus, It began like this:

“Óld folk say the Ranger first appeared on the wastes of the Potsdam Outspan, in the wild days before Killarney acquired respectability. He was then as he is now — tall, lean hipped and always with his deadly ballpoint as ready for action as any Colt 45. Single minded and fearless, he stood guard over Captain Morgan until the end.

The legend is based on times when the incredible hand-speed blurred his fingers as the feared writing instrument appeared, as if by magic in his huge fist. Then as the ink and adrenalin flowed, the moans would take shape. Real and imagined they magnified and multiplied. Nothing was sacrosanct. Targets were mowed down with all the subtlety and gentleness of a squad of Caspirs on the kart circuit.

One of his first contributions appeared in a 1966 Blower. In it he actually defended the chairman. However after that, all elected officials became fair game. Earlier this year (1988), he bemoaned the lack of published accounts. He also reported that the combined intelligence of the executive committee – the chairman included – did not equal that of the secretary’s dog.

During a difference of opinion with karting scribe Fred White, he claimed to have spoken to the SABC about their reluctance to cover karting in their radio progammes. Their reply (according to the Ranger), was that they considered karting to be too dangerous. Commentators and spectators could die – of boredom.

Some years later he took issue with the then social chairman Brian Jefferies who had dared to refer to that section as being “relatively new.” After briefly recounting Killarney’s long social history in his answering letter, he claimed to be not sure which was the world’s oldest profession — whoring or being the club’s social chairman.”

There was more — a lot more in fact.

Although he continued to attend every race meeting, he eventually became deeply involved in the affairs of the Cape Handlers Dog Club at the nearby Theo Marais Park and he spent many happy hours there.

His love of dogs began with a mastiff named Cassius, during the days when his house was opposite a bus stop in Milnerton. Now because Cassius tended to be a little aggressive, Neville erected a high boundary fence to ensure the dog remained inside.

This suited one particular conductor, who used to tease Cassius unmercifully every time his bus stopped there. Well he did until the gate was somehow left partially open one day. Cassius took full advantage of this, jumped on board and chased the terrified man up the stairs (it was a double decker). He then bit him, got off at the next stop and sauntered home. That conductor never bothered him again.

Then there was the far bigger Carlo, an imposing, long haired Pyrenean Mountain Dog who stood more than a metre tall. One Saturday during the festive holiday season, Neville and Carlo were waiting outside a ladies hairdressing salon in Adderley Street, where his wife Gwen was having her hair done, when a family who were obviously sightseers from out of town strolled past. While the children made a huge fuss of Carlo, their curious father approached Neville:

“En watter soort hond is dit?” he asked.

Now Nev. was English and strictly unilingual. In addition, he was never particularly garrulous – and certainly not when addressed by strangers in Afrikaans.

“It’s a Pyrenees,” he mumbled tersely through his beard, as he turned away.

Later, after the man gathered his family together and began to move off, Neville noticed him shaking his head and heard him saying to his wife:

“ Juslaaik — maar dis die grootste f*kk**g Pekinese wat ek ooit gesien het.”

The club extends its condolences to Gwen.

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Originally a millwright with the old SAR&H, Piet Geldenhuys (56), received his distinctive “Railway” moniker from John Simpson, with enthusiastic support from Pat Coles, after being “boarded” while still relatively young.

Before that, his motorsport mania had initially been kindled at his first seat of learning – the Zonnekus Primary School in Milnerton. Because together with a “kortbroek” Louis Powell they used to watch racing cars being towed or trailered to Killarney and just knew they had to get there to see what was happening.

Piet began as a junior marshal who used to cadge lifts to the track on Darryl Sandler’s breakdown. After graduating to senior status, he switched to racing a series of Mazdas, the first of which was an ex Koos Swanepoel Group N model.

Now, while Neville’s respect was reserved for Capt. Morgan, Piet’s favourite was beer. But it had to be ice cold, failing which it was returned – usually with an appropriate comment.

A few frosties probably had something to do with an occasion at the clubhouse a while back, when after everyone had left and Shawn the barman had locked up he discovered to his horror that his bakkie had disappeared – or possibly been stolen.

It turned out eventually that Shawn and Piet owned lookalike Nissan 720’s that — worse still – were activated by identical keys. Railway had left the pub earlier and not being able to remember where he had parked, had mistakenly driven off in Shawn’s bakkie. Fortunately it was all resolved when Piet’s Nissan was found in the pits on the Sunday morning.

His enthusiasm for the sport was legend. So much so that he was regarded by our editor as a physical motorsport Wikipedia. He was also extremely generous and often organized snoek braais at Killarney for visiting drivers — many of whom were strangers to him — at his own expense.

Some may be surprised to hear that he was also a man of principle who believed it was unethical for the club’s bookkeeper to sometimes help out as a barmaid in the clubhouse. Then there was a period of suspension for certain loud remarks made about the capabilities of the committee.

Our commiserations go to his wife Wendy and sons Gavin and Brendan. He will be sorely missed.

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Neil Hawkins (35), died tragically on Friday February 7, the eve of our international historic Passion for Speed meeting, in which he was due to compete.

Neil was an outstanding competitor who began as a 10 year old on the kart circuit. In later years he went on to claim the South African, as well as Western Province V8 stock car titles, together with a string of other main circuit victories.

But despite all that, it was his total domination of the Owen Ashley Supercar championship where he won 95% of all the one make races he completed, that stands out as his most remarkable motorsport achievement.

Our condolences go to his father and mother Dave and Beryl, sister Dominique, his former wife Jane, son Tyla and his current partner Celeste.

 

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