The Birth of Hell Driving
Article by Brian Grobbelaar (“Cape Times Motoring Editor) 1972
“Hell Driving today draws unbelievable crowds of up to 30,000 on occasion and is enjoying tremendous popularity – supported by a wide section of the public. How did this come about? Well, the evolution of Hell Driving is rather interesting, so lets travel back into the past and what events and which personalities helped to bring this about.
STOCK CAR RACING: The year is 1957 and we find the emergence of Stock Car Racing. Personalities involved in bringing Stock Car Racing about, amongst others, Bill Kannemeyer, Rodney Alexander, Jack Clifton, Bill Keiser and Dickie Keiser, Tooks Cross, Issy Leibowitz and Cohne Leibowitz. Ther basic idea was for drivers to eliminate any others in their way, to capsize and roll as many as possible was the order of the day. Ramp to ground jumping was also on their program and here Jack Clifton and Oscar Nelson featured prominently.
Other well known personalities engaged in Stock car Racing were Frank Osborne. Souma brothers, “Popeye” King “Dive Bomb Specialist”, “Cowboy” and “Chicken” Saunders. Stock Car Racing continued to about 1963.
AMERICAN SALOON CARS: In 1964 Jack Holloway (then chairman of the Worcester Motor Club) started the American Saloon Car Racing which lasted until 1967 when he initiated the Hell Driving. American Saloon Car Racing differed from Stock Car Racing in that they were much faster and one could recognise them as standard models.
In Addition no outside roll bars or railway type bumpers were evident. Mechanically they conformed to the standard type, in accordance with overseas practise racing was in a anti clockwise direction.
HELL DRIVING: This was started originally with Jack Holloway, the present chairrman in 1967, who afterwards formed the Cape Hell Driving Club in 1969 ( other records reflect 1968) This form of racing confined to gravel tracks, differed rather drastically from American Saloon Car Racing. The bodies remained virtually similar to the saloon cars, but the heart of the body underwent radical changes. Modifications now took place on a grand scale. In addition to banana branch exhausts, larger carburettors, high lift camshafts and snow track type of tyres were fitted. Different gear ratios were experimented with and lock differentials were utilised to give double traction around the corners. Hell Driving has definitely now come of age being far more sophisticated in the calibre of it's driving and the newer models being used. The Club has introduced a new rule this year which requires drivers to replace their cars if and when necessary, with newer models. This is in keeping with the improved image of Hell Driving.
An indication of how much faster Hell Driving has become can be gauged from the fact that the lap time record has been reduced from 30 seconds in 1969 to 23 seconds in 1972.
Hell Driving has come to stay”
By the 1980's the term "Stock Car Racing" seemed to be back, becoming a more commmon term used by most enthusiasts to describe this form of motor sport.
Since the opening of the new venue in 1995 this form of motor sport has become known as "Tar Oval Track Racing" -
Although there are many ways to describe this form of motor sport, the name Cape Hell Drivers still lives up to it's name after nearly 50 illustrious years, never forgetting the man (Jack Holloway) who started it all.
A forerunner to what was to become “Hell Driving as we know it. Pictured above is Bill Hastie standing next to a real old timer . Photo kindly donated by his Daughter Lynda Wentzel. (See story on “Oldies Around the world” page)
Ramp to ground stunts were popular in the late 50”s and was referred to as “Dive Bombing”
Former Chairman and founder of the Cape Hell Drivers, Jack Holloway with his famous red and white 57 Chevy in giving us a fine example of what an American Saloon looked like in the mid 60’s.
Cars began to develop a more aggressive look with the introduction of modifications in 1968. This 57 Ford of Neville Worth gives us clear example with protruding exhausts, steel bumpers and double rear wheels.
Flexi Flyers such as this Camaro of Johnny Clifton became popular among the drivers by the 80’s. These cars were not only faster and lighter, but were more convenient to repair by just replacing glass fibre panels.
Car mods and changing developments
….........Read more on the “Need for Speed” page ……Read more on the
“Need for speed” page
14 Newmarket Street CapeTown Tel: 021 465 9113 Fax 021 461 0833 email firstname.lastname@example.org
|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|