• Backdraft Racing SA will be fielding the nation's first full ethnic team.
• Kwanele Letlaka and Xolela Njumbuxa are the confirmed as drivers for the Backdraft Roadster.
• The fifth round of the SA Endurance Series will be streamed live via Facebook and YouTube.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
Backdraft Racing South Africa will be taking a huge step forward in terms of meaningful transformation in motorsport at the fifth round of the 2021 South African Endurance Series, to be held in East London on 1-2 October, where they will be fielding the nation's first full ethnic team.
While South Africa has seen a fair amount of young drivers of colour make their way into motorsport in the past few years, there is yet to be a team consisting of a full complement of black personnel to appear at an event. This is set to change in East London with Backdraft Racing SA owner Tony Martin being optimistic about the sustainability of their concept.
"In most cases, transformation in the sport has been somewhat of a Cinderella moment," Martin says. "Phrases like transformation, development and upliftment involve so much more than merely putting someone in the driver seat of a fast car. Yes, you can very likely provide them with a chance to win, but are you enabling them to leave with anything more than a trophy at the end of the day? Not really.
"Would it not be of more value to transfer the skills required to manage a project like a race weekend along with the required technical expertise that will keep them competing? These are skills that can be utilised in other facets of life away from the racetrack as well. This is what we are striving for with a transformation programme that will provide real meaning."
Kwanele Letlaka and Xolela Njumbuxa are already confirmed as drivers for the Backdraft Roadster, which will be provided by the company. Sandile Khumalo, a personnel member of the company, has recently been promoted to the position of Team Manager. This is one of the most important portfolios in any endurance racing setup. The technical crew will consist of Philane Dlamini and Nhlanhla Mshibe, the latter also being a long-time staff member of the company. Tutoring of management, mechanical, organisation, logistics and people skills will be headed up by Martin, while Njumbuxa is being guided by Sparky Bright with regards to race craft.
Since the 2020 resumption of South African motorsport following the initial national lockdown, Backdraft Racing SA has become one of the biggest revelations in the sport with their Backdraft Production Series programme that saw an influx of competitors in the South African Endurance Series. This involves 20 identically-built race cars provided to entrants at a minimal fee which includes insurance for damages sustained, a first in South Africa.
With priority given to local manufacturing and procurement, this has become the most cons-effective avenue to compete at the top level of the sport. Several new drivers were able to make their circuit racing debut, and the series also provided a financially viable avenue for a host of drivers to extend their careers. Three female drivers were also able to establish themselves as championship contenders again, with Robyn Kriel becoming a race winner in only her second outing.
Martin continues about the company's goals and how the transformation programme forms part of it: "Our business model is built around making motorsport affordable and sustainable for more than merely an elite few. So far, this journey we have undertaken has been a successful one, not just for us but also in terms of doing exactly what we set out to do. Our transformation plan was always on the cards.
"We only chose to hold it back until now to iron out various operational aspects before implementation. We are looking forward to seeing this develop from an established foundation, thereby leading the way to make motorsport truly representative of everyone in South Africa."
To guarantee the growth of and further expansion of this transformation plan, Backdraft Racing SA would also like to welcome outside investors to join them in this project. While initially this will be focused on the team mentioned, the goal is to facilitate an environment for future teams of a similar nature to start up.
Martin addds: "A question that we get a lot from particularly black youths, is how they can get involved in the sport. We would love to run more cars for this purpose, but this does come at a cost. Those who have been involved with motorsport for a while will know that it is one of the most expensive sports to start in. We would, however, love to create opportunities to answer these questions with a dedicated plan and creating a stepping stone to realise dreams. With adequate financial partnering, we will be in the position to make more cars available for this purpose.''
Parties interested in partnering with Backdraft Racing SA on this project can contact Martin on +27 31 819 0412 or email.
The fifth round of the South African Endurance Series will be streamed live via Facebook and YouTube, while a highlights package of the event will be compiled for and aired on DSTV afterwards.