South Africa Historic Grand Prix

In 1934 the journalist Brud Bishop had the idea, to organize a Grand Prix on the beautiful coastal roads at East London on the southern coast of South Africa. The participants should complete six laps with their racing cars. Two rich brothers, Whitney and Michael Straight, from the US, heard about this and were so excited that they and their friend Dick Seaman took their own cars from London to South Africa to participate.

40,000 spectators came to the small coastal town of East London in 1935 to see the very first Grand Prix. The Grand Prix was a huge success. Although the race ended for a year, but was held in 1936 again. This time, even manufacturers like Auto Union came and brought their teams to the start. It established still further Grand Prix races in South Africa. A track near Cape Town and the second around Johannesburg. The Second World War, however, brought the racing activities to a standstill. From the 60s to 1994, Formula 1 races were held annually in South Africa.

This is the story of the ten-day South Africa Historic Grand Prix, which took place in early December 2018. In the field of participants there were 24 vehicles, which can look back on a history of the original Grand Prix in East London. A total of 150 vehicles took part in the approximately 1000-kilometer journey from East London to Val de Vie near Cape Town. They followed the dream roads along the southern coast. In between, trips were made to the racetrack, such as the Prince George racetrack.

The riders were thrilled with the breathtaking scenery and the spectators were enthusiastic about the very rare monoposti and racing cars from the prewar era. Rarely can you see a Grand Prix Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo P3 at the petrol pump at a lonely gas station in the middle of the desert of South Africa.

The highlight of the rally was the entrance of the cars in the park of the Val de Vie Lifestyle Estates. The Grand Prix garden party took place on the last day. Surely you can classify this event among the most prestigious events in the world, because the exhibited vehicles were certainly classified accordingly. Each of the Grand Prix vehicles has a real racing history. The field featured ERA racing cars, a Maserati 8CM, Bugatti, Aston Martins and MGs. Visitors could visit the vehicles up close. Each of the vehicles was presented individually and presented in motion.

The idea of the organizer is to revive other eras of motorsport history in South Africa as a revival. This could offer some promising event possibilities in the future.