Racing driver, Hell driver,
The early years with driver Mother Ena de Waal
Deons entry into racing -
Hotrodder, Stunt team driver,
Speedway rider and Stuntman, You
name it, he’s done it. Undoubtedly the most
popular and entertaining driver of the time.
Deon won the hearts of thousands for almost three decades, with some spectacular machinery and record breaking stunts. This together with his rugged good looks and flamboyant personality soon earned him the reputation as the hero of the crowd. With his racing interest going back as far as being the 10 year old pit runner for his Mother Ena, a legend in her own right to the teenager racing his own stock car, Deon became a true legend and all rounder -
25 March 2013
I would not be able to refer to my racing history without the mention of my Mother (Ena) who started racing in 1958 after a “dare to race”. I was only 10 years oldr at the time and spent a lot of time in the pits helping my Mom as a “pit runner”. The racing bug had already bit me and with inspiration from Mother Ena, the urge to race was overwhelming. At the age of 16 my Mom’s racing career was slowing down and I often got the opportunity to race other drivers cars.
This influenced me to consider getting my own car, so I got together with two of my friends and acquired a Buick. It turned out that I was the better driver and managed to complete a few races. The car wasn’t very fast, so no awards or rewards. This venture was soon halted when it was discovered that I didn’t have a license.
By this time I had received my call up up papers for CF Military service, so off to the army I went. On my return, I bought my first road car, a 58 Ford and still had the racing bug but, didn’t have the funds to have a stock car as well so, I converted my road car for racing. Some other modifications followed and I seemed to be doing well.
Research by Gary van Oudtshoorn
My modified road car in action at Goodwood in the early days.
The new 57 Ford obtained from AE Frost and also sponsored by Ten-
My First car (Buick) Standing next to my road car Converted road car My modified road car A young me
This seemed to have started a trend as many other drivers followed suit and also fitted wings to their cars and modifications were effected on a large scale by all.
Chev Malibu body
With Ford Falcon Station Wagon body
The bodyless car being tested at Goodwood
Click on these images to enlarge
The new look of the Louw & Kielblock 57 Ford wih colours of red, white and blue caught on quickly and had much success. It was also around this rime that I won the 68/69 Club Hell Driving championship as well as the The Cape Hell Drivers vs Racing Drivers Challenge Cup. Because I was active in Stock Cars, Stunt driving. Ramp acrobatics, Not rods as well as Speedway racing, I managed to be awarded with the trophy for the best all-
With this car I also managed to win a 30 lap race at Goodwood and proving that the car was not only quick, but reliable as well. Due to some wear and tear on the
The fans were obviously disappointed that they would not be seeing the “miracle wagon” in action any more, but the show had to go on. I soon got to work on a 64 Ford Galaxy for the 1972 season with the help of Louw & Kielblock. The car was bulkier and took some getting used to behind the wheel of a conventional car again. Never the less it handled like a dream with it’s big power steering and having some close encounters with Louis Borel Saladin giving the spectators what they were looking for.
body, I decided to fit a Ford Falcon station wagon body. The car became extremely popular with the fans and was later referred to as the “miracle wagon”. It was this car that I won the 69/70 WP Championship. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and was later banned by the executive committee of the club. Although it was found that my car was completely race worthy, six other drivers were in the process of building similar cars for the following season. The committee reckoned that this was not the way to go and considered it as unorthodox construction which would later prove to be unsafe.
A usual site after every race meeting as fans would surround me eager for autographs and a chat. I always enjoyed spending time with the fans after each race meeting often resulting in getting home in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The rod I raced for the SA/US Challenge (Test run)
Around 1971 I was chosen by Hot Rod promoter Buddy Fuller to represent South Africa in the 5th
and final round of the International Challenge
Match between South Africa and the USA.
I was to drive in the place of Mike Rothwell from
from Johannesburg and was given a super
modified Rod to test. I wa so impressed with
the speed and power of the car that I soon
had to have my own car. At that stage V8
Hot Rods were taking off on a big
scale at Goodwood with the Rods of
Charles Waring and John Bam. With the
help of Chris Walters, my “Lucky Strike” Special
was ready to race. The car went like a rocket, but was
badly damaged one night as I tried to get past Doep du Plessis.
The two cars touched resulting in both cars retiring for the night with
Seriously bent front suspensions. We managed to get the car repaired for the next meeting, but decided to call it a day after I tried to squeeze between a parked Rod and the safety barrier at full throttle in front of the main stand. I must have misjudged the gap and connected with the parked Rod with quite a hard impact. My Rod was badly bent almost beyond repair.
Taking part in the International Speedway Meeting between South Africa and Britain was a new experience for me. I must admit, I prefer four wheels under me although, Speedway is very exciting as well.
At that time I competed against Willie Kinsky ( former WP motorcycle champion ) and British ace Johnny Gander. It’s not that easy flying around the oval on two wheels with no brakes and only one gear, but still managed to do a lap in 18.5 seconds which was a record at the time.
In 1974 I broke away from Ford and Louw & Kielblock and decided to try my hand at a 55 Chev and was sponsored by Paarlberg Motors. The car proved to be fast and reliable and I managed to attain a fair amount of wins, including the Champion of Champions race. It was around this time that I decided to give Stock Car Racing a break and began to turn my interests on racing in the clubmans series on the large circuit at Killarney, before returning to Goodwood for the 80/81 season with the Grand Bazaars Chev SS,
I ran the Chev SS for a couple of seasons and in 1985 switched to something lighter and more compact in the form of a Scimitar (above) sponsored by MD Transport. Unfortunately this car was short lived after the rear end was demolished by a competitor (see below). I decided to scrap the car.
Since then, I prepared a Ford Escort panel van powered by a Chevy motor for the Killarney Tar Oval, but soon realised that I missed the excitement of the dirt oval at Goodwood and seemed to loose some interest.
Stockcar.za.org comment: Despite the fact that Deon de Waal continued his racing career and still appears as a racing guest and stuntman at many venues around the country, it’s not easy to disconnect him from the Goodwood Oval -
I also participated in the 4 Cyl Class at Goodwood driving a Ford Anglia (left) which won me the Cape Show Championships. The following season, I switched to a Ford Capri (Right) seen standing proudly in the pits in the mid 70’s. This car sponsored by Brake Centre was the only Capri entered into racing at Goodwood at the time.
“A Stunt that almost cost me my life” …….
There are common sense precautions you take before any stunt that just about guarantee your survival and probably prevent any injury. I can remember that on one occasion in the mid 70’s I lost my guard and it cost me my first serious injury in 11 years and could have even cost me my life.
It happened when I was attempting to improve on the South African long jump record at Goodwood. This involves racing a car up a ramp and clearing a line of cars parked side by side. The record at that time stood at 13. The heap I was to have used turned temperamental and didn’t want to start, then the gears jammed in second. I made a dummy run in second gear bur couldn’t pick up nearly enough speed.
I could sense that the crown was getting impatient as this was to be the evenings big attraction. Then to my amazement a man from the crowd —-
I was so bemused by this chaps offer and by this time so worried about the impatient crowd that I did the silliest thing of my career. I thanked him and jumped straight in without another thought. The car went like a bird and I completely forgot that it was totally unsuitable or rather unprepared for what it was about to do. Normally I work on a car that I intend to use for a particular stunt. For this type of stunt I would have used ballast to ensure level flight once she was airborne. I would have tied down the dangerous battery, stuffed rags into the petrol tank to reduce the fire hazard and remove any other injury traps such as the sun visor and rear view mirror.
Other that that this car had only the normal bucket seat belt other than four harnesses which I normally use. I would have also set the drivers seat much further back from the steering wheel. In this game we drive with fingers just touching the wheel and feet only just reaching the peddles. The last thing you want is the engine coming back at you on impact or having the steering wheel going through your chest. Well anyway I took the car out of the grounds for my run and after racing into the arena and through the tunnel, I was going like a ruddy bomb as I hit the ramp.
She took off beautifully, but as she lost imputes she suddenly dipped her bonnet, the nose being heavier than the tail and smashed vertically down onto the last car. I had cleared 16 of them. I broke some ribs and might have broken my neck. Lying in hospital I had plenty of time to curse my own stupidity but I got away with it and man, did I learn a lesson.
Since then I have broken many bones during my stunting career, but this has not stopped me to still jump at the opportunity when asked to do a stunt and will probably continue as long as I can still enjoy it. I’m always willing to do anything outrageous or anything that is completely different. The larger the risk factor the better. The feeling of successfully completing a dangerous stunt without injury is overwhelmingly rewarding, after all this is what the crowd have come to see. When Deon
Was asked why he does it, and if he has any nerves he roared with laughter and said “damn right I have!” People often tell me how calm I look before the action, but inside I’m shaking like a leaf. It’s not really fear it’s more as sort of nervous excitement. Stunting is in my blood which I probably inherited from my Mother Ena.
From the top -
In the mid 70’s Deon held the South African record for the tunnel of fire by successfully completing 49m.
The beginning of Deon’s stunting career goes way back to the early 70’s when rolling cars was a familiar item on the program of events. These sequence of photographs depict one of the many hundreds of similar stunts performed by him over the years.
Top left -
One of the most sensational stunts was this stunt performed by Deon in the 1970’s using an Opel with caravan on tow to leap over 21 cars at Killarney. He cleared 20
The Cape Argus 22 April 1998
Deon strapped inside a Mercedes Benz free falls from a height of 50m from a large crane plummeting down to earth at a speed of 165km per hr and a gravity force of 4G before coming to a sudden halt on top of a pile of cars.
Ford Escort Baby Fiat Formula Ford
Deon was just as much at home hurtling racing cars around the main circuit at Killarney as he was at the Goodwood Oval. Above are photos of some his awesome machinery that gained him even more fame and adding to his illustrious racing career.
Holden Manaro V8 Holden Manaro V8 Rover SDX V8 (Rollin-
Images kindly supplied from the Deon de waal collection
Thank you Deon for your kind assistance and time spent with us , it is appreciated
Deon Juan de Waal -
• The highlights of Deon de Waal are far
to many to list. To view his site profile
from A -
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|The Ranger Stunt Team|
|The need for speed|
|Deon de Waal|
|(Late) Bill Lenz|
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