Fifty three thousand spectators and 705 entries - the biggest ever in motorsport - enjoyed the official launch of circuit racing, short oval racing, SASCAR tri-oval racing, drag racing and motocross at the opening blast-off of the revolutionary new WesBank Raceway. Aside of the races taking place on Saturday and Saturday night, 26 July and Sunday 27, the crowds who thronged the 200 acre multi-function motorsport complex enjoyed a vast array of family orientated entertainment in perfect weather conditions, including Thunder Ally, experiences on the skidpan, Ranger 4x4 circuit, Play Station Music Stage, abseiling, slot car racing, air displays, a 2,000 Ford Car display and parade, a massive Harley Davidson display, a thundering Nationwide fly-past, craft market, dancing girls, break dancing and much more.
It was hardly surprising that the N3 in Germiston became quite clogged up on Sunday as "we went through 5,7 tons of ice, 30,000 coldrinks, 5,500 litres of draught beer, 2 tons of chips, 5,000 pies and more sausages than we sold at Loftus this weekend," said Patrick Blakeway of the House of Bonne Cuisine, who managed the catering.
It did not take long for a South African record to tumble on WesBank Raceway's world class 1.1 km drag strip. Six times world Pro Street Bike champion Rickey Gadson ran an 8.291 run on his turbo charged Kawasaki to break the South African record of 8.33 held by Fransie Engelbrecht (19) in the top SBS bike class, and came achingly close to the current world record of 7.64 seconds. "I want to come back and break the world record at WesBank, I am so close to it", said Gadson.
"Rickey may have grabbed my record from me, but it will be short lived. Last month at Tarlton I clocked a 8,25 second run which was unfortunately not ratified as my second run was much slower, but I will get the record back for a South African driver soon," said Engelbrecht, who rides a Suzuki.
A highlight for many was "Mr. Drag Racing" Mick van Rensburg and his Jet car, which rattled more than a few cages in running a sub nine run with its forty year old engine, which still keeps the veteran dragster ahead of the pack in South Africa. The force of the jet smashed the headlights of the rescue car parked some way behind.
The drag action didn't let up with when Louis Lima established a new SA record of 8.809 seconds in his Nissan bakkie which flew of the line on only its back wheels for a good few seconds and reached a speed of 243.13km/h.
The opening weekends racing kicked off on the Saturday with a National Historic race meeting during the day and short oval racing taking place during the evening. (Full releases on our website, www.wesbankraceway.co.za).
The burly SASCAR field took to the 1 kilometre long WesBank Raceway Tri-Oval for the first time, which is now home to the exciting NASCAR-type class. The tri-oval is the only one of its kind in Africa and the drivers revelled in the sunny and warm winter's day, which with the pace car coming out after accidents, ran non-stop - with drivers proving they were not sissies, going back for more after hitting the wall.
In the morning's qualifying session the drivers went out to flex their V8 muscles. The top seven qualifiers were all within a second of each and in the end it was the V8 phenomenon from Cape Town Johan Fourie (#4 MD Transport / Novel Ford) that took pole from Rob Beaumont (#69 Team Tyco Trucking) and Kosie Swanepoel (#3 Team Ford Credit) with Peter Lindenberg (#2 Team Mack Trucks) rounding out the first four. Amazingly second, third and fourth qualified within .5 seconds of each other.
In the first heat of the new SASCAR summer speed series, the sparks literally flew as chaos reigned when Beaumont and Auby connected ripping off Auby's front spoiler. After the drivers reformed and started again the indomitable Beaumont was out racing again but unfortunately was forced to retire with damage to his car. When racing resumed it wasn't long before the next incident took place when two of the new boys to the series Wimpie van Zyl (# 59 New Call Racing) and Quintin Saayman (#7 Wynns Racing) took each other out.
At the end of the eventful 75 laps Johan Fourie came out tops beating Peter Lindenberg and Kosie Swanepoel who finished in second and third places respectively. The racing was a gruelling affair with excessive G forces and drivers literally taking a strain in their necks after the two enduro races.
In the second 75 lapper Johan Fourie again finished first, this time under a yellow flag after Wimpie van Zyl and Clint Nassif (#8 Blue Dot I.T) had a massive coming together leaving van Zyl's car strewn all over the track. Fourie's prizes include a Play Station 2 and R2000 Carnival City gambling chips, as well as cash prizes from WesBank Raceway, the House of Bonne Cuisine and Hand-e, and products from Goodyear, Nationwide Airlines, Wynns and RAM.
The next SASCAR round will take place at WesBank Raceway on 6 September.
SASCAR RACE 1 RESULTS
1ST Johan Fourie (#4 MD Transport/Novel Ford)
2nd Peter Lindenberg (#2 Mack Trucks)
3rd Kosie Swanepoel (#3 Ford Credit)
4th Clinton Nassif (#8 Blue Dot IT)
5th Deon Auby (#96 Tyco Trucking)
6TH Jimmy Auby (#20 Tony's Logistics)
7th Marc Auby (#46 Tony's Logistics)
8th Wimpie van Zyl (#59 New Call)
9th Ross Lazarus (#10 Valvoline)
10th Quintin Saayman (#7 Wynns)
SASCAR RACE 2 RESULTS
1ST Johan Fourie (#4 MD Transport/Novel Ford)
2ND Peter Lindenberg (#2 Mack Trucks)
3RD Kosie Swanepoel (#3 Ford Credit)
4TH Deon Auby (#96 Tyco Trucking)
5TH Quintin Saayman (#7 Wynns)
6TH Clinton Nassif (#8 Blue Dot IT)
7TH Rob Beaumont (#69 Tyco Trucking)
8TH Jimmy Auby (#20 Tony's Logistics)
9TH Wimpie van Zyl (#59 New Call)
10TH Ross Lazarus (#10 Valvoline)
11TH Patrick Seddon (#22 Cool Air conditioning and Refrigeration)
The Greg Albertyn Motocross track was a hive of activity with a record entry of 205 riders out to try out the brand new course for the first time. "Motorcross has found a new home at WesBank Raceway," said Motocross promoter Peter Murray.
Off the track the entertainment was fast and furious with non stop action on the Play Station Music stage and climbing walls just a few of the activities on offer while the best dressed lady for the event was Tanya Swanepoel from Alberton who caught the eye in her wedding-like dress, the competition will become a regular event at the Raceway which hopes to encourage the ladies to still dress up for the 'races'.
In the Ford Centennial competition another lady Natasha van Wyk won the Ford Focus valued at R150 000.
The next event at WesBank raceway will be street car racing on 3 August.
The first of the WesBank Raceway "Illegal to Legal" Street races will take place this Sunday, 3 August from 10am to 4pm.