OPINION | Killarney: The problem with Western Province Motor Club

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Has your father or grandfather ever told you about 'the Pav' (aka the piv)? Perhaps you watched a young man, almost two decades ago, known as Eddie Rasta, spinning at 'the pavilion or in Kraaifontein's "scheme"? Or perhaps your frequented Philippie at 'die bos' or the Tabakbaai 'piff' or even watched spinners at school events trying to raise money for charity?

And no, we're not referring to spinning classes at the gym. 

Eddie is still one of the spin "lords" of Cape Town, a legend known across South Africa. Those are just the spots I know of, and even visited myself here in the Cape. Joburg and the rest of the country have their own iconic spots too. 

But back then, and probably years before that, spinners and drifters alike never had a real place for their sport. A place to call home for legal events. Today, in 2021, spinners and drifters are still known as 'hooligans' by some, even though both practices have been accepted globally as motorsport genres with world championship events.  

However, earlier in October, Killarney International Raceway came to a standstill when a dozen spinners and drifters blocked the main entrance to the facility, preventing racers and spectators from gaining entry. Their reason for doing so was that the WPMC refused to present them with dates for their events, claiming the Killarney International Raceway calendar was already packed for 2022 even though it had not been finalised. Petty, perhaps, but this battle has been ongoing for years, and if "illegal" motorsports are going to be taken off the streets, places like Killarney has to play a significant role.

Insaaf Brenner,spinning,spin outlaws
Insaaf Brenner

The City of Cape Town has supported the spinning and drifting community, but still, there was no real movement.

All of the above, and recent events, has prompted a Wheels24 reader John Smith* to share his views below...

Disclaimer: Wheels24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of contributors/columnists or readers published on Wheels24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24 or Wheels24.

Smith writes: Killarney motor racing circuit is the oldest one in South Africa, hailing from shortly after the Second World War.

Over the years, I have seen and experienced many negative emotions as an ex-club member, former racer, and enthusiast — these emotions, ranging from frustration to shock to anger. Don't get me wrong; I also had many, many unforgettable and pleasurable, positive experiences. 

However, recent issues have prompted me to speak up. Some of my comments will likely offend and upset some and, some will most definitely be met with denial, but I feel it is time that the media investigate WPMC properly and expose the truth.

Last weekend's gate entry blockade by some of the drifting and spinning community prompted me to share my opinions. I have also discussed some of the issues with fellow racers and enthusiasts to be as balanced as possible.

Insaaf Brenner,spinning,spin outlaws
Insaaf Brenner

We have seen some harrowing opinions and even some proof of what certain management committee members are up to recently. Though the exposure of these issues was mainly driven on social media by members, the allegations and occasional published proof were met with astonishment and shock from the broader community. This resulted in the prosecution of a former class champion in one of our national series and numerous threats and gagging orders.

Few of the matters raised were news to me, but then I came to know how WPMC operates over the last two decades, and only a few actually shocked me.

But it's the manner in which WPMC handled the blockade which made me react to the incident.

In brief, the matter of a lack of facility for these enthusiasts was behind the blockade. The response by WPMC was not unexpected to me, but nevertheless shocking, to say the least.

The bottom line is that the short answer given by WPMC is there is no space nor place to accommodate these enthusiasts. This is how the WPMC management, referred to by some as the "Rondebosch Old Boys Club'' operates. And herein lies the real problem.

Consider a few facts. When compared to Kyalami in Gauteng, Killarney is decades behind. The facility has been run to stagnate by a closed circle of people who tailored the use and rules to suit themselves. I, for one, don't buy the reasoning that there was, and there are not enough funds to go around to develop and grow Killarney in a similar vein as Kyalami has developed. For decades, this metro and its immediate surroundings have been flush with old but serious money. But having investors like the Ruperts for one, with Johann Rupert presently heading the conglomerate, is one of the world's most serious car enthusiasts, and he is based right next door.

Shane Green spinning his spin car.

Now this "cabal", if I may be allowed to use the term, the WPMC management committee, is finally standing with its back against the wall. Yet, this seemingly is no concern to them, and if the status quo continues, the WPMC ostrich approach will likely become a political matter. In short, management has to pull their heads from the sand and face the grim future. WPMC, whether the management committee likes this or not, belongs to its members. The facility belongs to the City of Cape Town. And their entire existence is controlled by competitors and enthusiasts.

A few years ago, the motocross fraternity upped and left. That facility is presently a barren, unused piece of chained-up real estate. WPMC was approached by one of the founders of drifting in Cape Town, whose father was also a decades-long club member, with the suggestion to redevelop the motocross facility ground by building a facility for drifting and spinning in its place. This suggestion remains unanswered. There is also a suggestion to build a skid pan and establish a driving academy on the same facility. I guess these suggestions will remain unanswered, and this is not unsurprising.

WPMC does not have many years of its lease leftover, and my personal opinion is that management is biding their time, milking WPMC for all its worth until its end. After all, why invest in a new venture when their time is almost up. Follow my "drift"?

It is now pretty clear that this fish is rotting from the head, and my opinion is that perhaps the time has come for an in-depth investigation and a proper exposure of the conduct of this management committee. Perhaps a sterling investigating journalist from the News24 team needs to be prompted to take a harder look at matters at WPMC. The broader public will not like what they see; that much I can definitely say. However, there might be criminal investigations in the making when WPMC is eventually probed.

shane green,drift outlaws
Shane Green

Meanwhile, I will not be surprised if the issue regarding the spinners and drifters is made political and prompts politicians and CoCT senior management to step in. This might not altogether be a bad thing at all, and just what the sport and Killarney needs.

Though I am no particular fan of drifting and spinning, as main circuit competition is more to my liking, one cannot neglect the fact that ignoring that fraternity and its followers is most short-sighted.  

If you know what kind of funds are available to the competitors via their sponsors, it is no surprise that this motorsport sector is growing rapidly and exponentially. The money spent by competitors are insane and will leave many serious circuit racers stunned. Thus, at times like these, when there are massive business hurdles, WPMC has something to answer for turning a cold shoulder to these racers. A commercially based decision will surely be the better one, would it not be? 

Unless such a decision does not suit the management of Western Province Motor Club, they'll surely stay rooted firmly in the past.

*Wheels24 reader John Smith wishes not to use his real name due to being a former member of the Western Province Motor Club.

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