South Africa’s first NASCAR-type stock car race is set to take place at Phakisa Freeway near Welkom on January 31st – see who’s set to take to the track.
Dubbed the ASA Transcontinental Free State 500, this event is a joint-initiative involving the Free Sate government and the American Speed Association based in Daytona, Florida. The event will see drivers from America, Brazil, Australia, Great Britain and South Africa go head-to-head in a 207-lap race of the 2,5 km banked super oval.
Six local entrants have been offered the opportunity to compete on Sunday and are currently in talks with a number of American teams regarding the chance to race one of their qualified cars. The local entrants are 41-year old Johan Spies from Cape Town (2008 and 2009 national super saloon champion on short tar ovals), 50-year old Johan Cronje from Welkom (1992 V8 sprint car short oval champion), 19-year old Johan Coetzer, also from Welkom, (multiple Free State and Northern Cape short oval champion, brothers Jaco (29) and Danie (26) Correia, from Welkom and Klerksdorp respectively (competitors in the WesBank V8 championship), and 31-year old Gugu Zulu from Johannesburg, the reigning national rally champion in class A5 and a former Sports 2000 and WesBank V8 circuit racer.
The list of visiting drivers is similarly impressive and includes former NASCAR driver Ron Barfield Jr, who owns the ASA-accredited Dillon Speedway in South Carolina and will be fielding a number of his own cars in the Free Sate event, former NASCAR Legend and Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine and former Renault F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr.
The official practice sessions take place this Friday with a four-race qualifying session following on Saturday afternoon. To say that there’s a great deal at stake here is something of an understatement – the Free State 500 boasts the biggest prize of any motor event on South African soil – a purse of $300 000 (that’s roughly R2,3 million)
In addition to the actual race, the event also features air displays, a pit crew tyre-changing competition, and laps of Phakisa with the racing drivers on Saturday.
Tickets can be obtained via Computicket outlets and range from R20 for the Thursday sessions to R330 for the main event on Sunday. All of the tickets include a 90-minute pit walkabout.