Thousands of car freaks, racing fans and just plain adrenalin junkies poured into Killarney International Raceway on December 28 for the annual StreetFest in partnership with the City of Cape Town.
It was an international celebration of car culture featuring top Drag Racers from all over South Africa and as far afield as Namibia taking on the best of Cape Town’s quarter-mile crew, as well as Drifting, an IASCA Sound-Off, a Show ‘n Shine competition that highlighted some of the prettiest and most outrageous customs in the Western Cape.
The Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Ian Neilson, braved the steep ladder to the commentary tower at the Drag Strip for the official opening of StreetFest 2019. He welcomed the visitors, local racers and the thousands of spectators lining both sides of the strip, saying that Cape Town, the Events Capital of Africa, was proud to host big motor sport events such as this, events that cater as much to grassroots enthusiasts as professional race crews.
There was music all day from the Coca Cola Gig Rig, a bewildering variety of good things to eat and drink, to wear and to upgrade your car, from custom wheels to high-quality suspension components and bolt-on custom bumpers, grilles and aero kits.
Most of the noise, the excitement and the tyre smoke, however, came from the Drag Strip, as top racers with screaming turbo-charged four-cylinder engines, howling sixes and thundering seven-litre V8s thrilled the crowds with huge burnouts before launching off the line to cover the 402 metres to the finish line as quickly as they could.
It sounds simple, but the launch is crucial. Most drag races are won and lost in the first second of the run; as a combination of brute force and precision car control it is unmatched in any other form of motor sport.
The fastest time of the day was set by local hero Ralph Kumbier in Suspect, Shaheen Barmania’s twin-turbo Chev Lumina Ute bakkie, who laid down a superb 9,356 second pass at 227,68 km/h, closely followed by Shaun Zurich in his immaculately prepared Honda Civic, reputedly the quickest normally aspirated front-wheel drive car in Africa.
His best effort of 9,483 seconds at 230,95 km/h was good enough to win him Class OA for modified normally aspirated cars, well ahead of Hennie Watkins’ Toyota Corolla (11,173 seconds at 192,07 km/h) and Lyle Africa in a Honda CRX (11,195 seconds at 199,65 km/h).
Third overall, and second in Class OS for open force-fed machines, was Rudy Roode in an all-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf Mk2, with a 9,831 second pass at 234 79 km/h, just two hundredths of a second ahead of petite 20-year-old Yuresa ‘Yuri’ Naidoo from Durban, the fastest lady on the day in an Audi TTRS.
Sadly, Tiaan van der Merwe from Mpumalanga in Fireball – a mid-1970s Ford Escort with a seven-litre Chevrolet crate engine by Steve Schmidt of Indianapolis, Indiana – was unable to make good on his stated ambition of breaking into the nines on his first visit to the coast, although he came tantalisingly close with a best effort of 10,449 seconds at 187,92 km/h.
And that’s all motor, the commentators reminded the crowds, without forced induction or chemical assistance!
Even more disappointed was Shawn Dziire out of Johannesburg, who got even closer to the magic 10-second mark in his raucous turbo-charged BMW E30 with a 10,194 second pass at 195 423 km/h before its differential failed.
Class 4A went to Moeneeb Parker in a Nissan Champ bakkie with an 11,573 second run at 194,08 km/h, while Dziire made up for his Class OS disappointment by taking Class 4S in his Opel SuperBoss with a best effort of 11,814 seconds at 193,10 km/h and Class 6S was won by Herman Mostert in a Toyota Corolla fitted with a straight-six 2JZ engine, who laid down an astonishing 9,503 second pass at 223,76 km/h.
The quickest times of the day, as always, were set by the motorcycle competitors, led by Reece ‘Buddy’ Robertson, (Suzuki GSX-R1000) with a best run of 8,684 seconds at 254,78 km/h. He was the only rider into the eights on the day, well ahead of a pair of BMW S1000RRs in the hands of Edson Almeida and Irrvinne Bruinders (9 150 seconds at 250,43 km/h and 9, 453 seconds at 240 22 km/h respectively). Fourth was 16-year-old Stephen Lottering from Port Elizabeth, with a very creditable 9 528 second pass at 238, 76 on a brand new Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Top quad rider was Kyle Johannes (Yamaha Banshee), who caused a stir when he laid down the only sub 12 second run of the day on a quad at 11,967 seconds and 166 95 km/h.