Eat, sleep, speed

2012-09-07 15:02

Imagine an open stretch of land, no speed traps, no Metro Police officers and no limits.

Just you and your car hurtling as fast as you can.

For nine days this month, the first Speedweek SA event will take place in the Kalahari Desert, Hakskeenpan, in Northern Cape.

Located just outside Namibia, it’s about 1 000km from Joburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

If you know anything about land-speed records, you’ve probably heard about the Bonneville Speedway, a piece of barren land in Utah, in the US, that is used to set records. It is this model that the event is following.

“The idea came when I thought that if I can’t get to my dream destination, it should come to me,” says Jan Els, a motorsport fanatic and the event’s organiser.

“It has taken three years to get this far and be in a position to host it,” he says.

Speedweek SA’s marketing and technology guru Peter Westcott says there are only two other events like it in the world.

The first is in Utah and the second in Australia, which has not run for the last three years due to weather conditions.

So, technically, South Africa is now second.

“This event is about top speed with plenty of track and time. There’s anything from 1920 rat rods to 2008 Ferraris and Lambos,” says Westcott.

“Some cars are standard, others are modified and some are more like pocket rockets than vehicles. We even have two Peterbilt trucks that have entered.”

There’s no specific criteria – all entrants need to qualify at the event to be allowed to drive faster.

“For example, I could be bringing a stock Toyota Corolla or a Suzuki LTZ400 quad. If I can get my hands on a Checkers trolley with a Hemi 3.8 engine, I’ll bring that too. There is a class for every vehicle,” says Westcott.

The track is smooth enough for one to bring their rollerblades.

The 2km tracks are for the rookie drivers who will be capped on speed and distance until they are proven worthy.

The gymkhana track will be suspended for this year, and there is no catering for drag races at this stage as it will mess up
the salt pan.

Els concludes, saying: “Not many people know how to drive on dirt and although the pan is mostly hard clay, driving on it will be a new experience for most racers.

“This is also not an event sanctioned by Motorsport South Africa so our own rules and records apply.”

» Speedweek SA will be held between September 22 and 30 in Hakskeenpan What visitors can expect:

-Regular tents and stretches are available to book if you’re not bringing your own caravan or gear

-Showers and toilets for men and women, thanks to the16km water pipeline which has been installed just for the event.

-To see and hear cars they have never seen before.

-Gas braais only due to nature conservation.

-A big screen, live bands and awesome company.

Costs: Bonneville entry fees are about R38 000, while Hakseenpan is just a few thousand if including food costs. A three-day package could cost from R4 225.

-Visit for additional info

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