The Need For Speed
For decades man has always had a passion to spend time on their cars on weekends, trying to get the ultimate performance out of their prized possessions. Stock car racing became popular in the mid 50's when old Plymouths, Dodges,Fords and Chevs would enter the arena looking more like birdcages on wheels. In those years the main objective was to go all out to demolish one another by rolling as many cars as possible, with the winner being the driver with the last car mobile. The cars were not very fast, drivers would concentrate more on taking each other out rather than doing some serious racing. Jack Holloway then introduced a new form of motor sport when he brought his team from Worcester to perform at the Goodwood Oval in 1967.
This was known as American Saloon Car Racing. With a big improvement to stock car racing cars were divided into separate heats where they could race against each other over 6 to 7 laps at a time. The cars were all standard and very similar in performance, there was not much competition and very little over taking. Cars would follow one another in single file around the oval creating more dust and noise than speed. Jack Holloway new that something had to be done to keep stock car racing alive and to give the ever increasing fans something to write home about. At that time saloon cars at Killarney had become quite popular amongst spectators. Some very quick cars were dominating the circuit with Meisner and Basil Green Parana conversions. With the formation of the Cape Hell Drivers in 1968 under the chairmanship of Jack Holloway, drastic changes were to follow.
It was decided that all cars could be modified, creating much more excitement for the fans, more competition between the drivers, more frequent over taking and most of all more thrills and spills. Unfortunately modifying the cars meant a greater expense to some drivers who did not have a large bank balance or a very good sponsor, resulting in a few drivers to fall on the way side. However, many drivers and mechanics soon got to work stripping their cars of all unnecessary weight, modifying the engines, fitting grooved or wider tyres, firmer suspensions, locked diffs and anything that that would get their 57 Fords or 55 Chevs quicker around the tight Goodwood Oval. Among the first drivers to arrive with a fully modified car was Deon de Waal in 1968 with his mean green 57 Ford, featuring a large silver scoop (aerofoil) mounted to the rear of the roof. At the same time, Bill Lenz appeared with a rather compact 62 Ford Falcon with exhaust pipes protruding from the bonnet and a high wing mounted to the boot, similar to those used in F1 at that time.
ome drivers such as Charles Waring and Clive Lilley even used large sign boards as wings advertising Helfet Retreads. Some major transformations were taking place during that time resulting in some interesting looking cars. The most notable changes must surely have been the enormous amount of varied exhaust system designs. Winning top honours was the 58 Ford of Ewart Frick, sporting 8 neat looking pipes protruding from the bonnet and reaching high as they passed at an angle on each side of the windscreen, closely resembling the pipes of a church organ. Other drivers such as Louis Borel Saladin opted for a bright orange banana branch winding on top of the motor on his 56 Ford. With more power to the rear wheels drivers and mechanics soon realised that they needed to improve the handling on corners.
Experimenting with different suspensions, tyre pressures, and the fitting extra wings for down force proved to be a big improvement. At that time the hero of the crowd, Deon de Waal had created something completely different during the off season. Going all out to surprise his fans, arrived at the track the following season with a Chev Malibu sponsored by Louw and Kielblock. The car looking more like an American dragster immediately caught the eye of the spectators. The car was also said to be way ahead of it's time, featuring a reinforced bakkie chassis and an interchangeable body. It also featured a mid Ford Galaxy motor mounted on the floor board inside the car with the seating position directly behind it. In this way Deon could very conveniently fine tune the motor while on the starting line. The car was a great success, later changing the body to a 62 Ford Falcon station wagon. A truly exciting car to watch as it hurtled down the track lifting the left front in spectacular fashion coming out of the corners.
Yes, cars were getting faster and the faster they became the more experience one needed to handle them around the tight oval. Needless to say the need for speed was overcome “They came, we saw, they conquered”.
A typical example of an old 1950’s stock car.
This neat Mercedes of Nick van Rensburg #A74 in the early 80’s also featured a mid engine just behind the drivers seat. With a much shorter drive shaft and excellent weight distribution, the car was a sure winner.
Anton Tallie with his 4 wheel drive Ford GT40 replica. The car featured a 6lt V8 which could reach 130 kmh in second gear. An awesome Cobra body could also be used when needed as seen above right.
The introduction of Flexi Flyers in the mid 80’s created new dimensions in stock car racing producing phenomenal lap times. Here the Camaro of Frans du Toit gives us a fine example of these super fast machines.
By Gary van Oudtshoorn
The black and gold 62 Ford Falcon of Bill Lenz complete with high F1 style wing.
This 58 Ford of Ewart Frick #14 sported one of the most outrageous exhaust designs in the early 70’s. Ewart Frick is seen hear together with the 55 Chev of Tommy Thompson as they head for the Epping corner.
|In The Beginning|
|The Birth of hell driving|
|The way it was|
|The Ranger Stunt Team|
|The need for speed|
|Deon de Waal|
|(Late) Bill Lenz|
|(Late) Louis Borel Saladin|
|Kees van der Coolwijk|
|Gary van Oudtshoorn|
|Johnny van Niekerk|
|Frans du Toit|
|Vodeo clips / Links|