Kyalami - A Reflection on the History of the Original Circuit 1961-1987
The year 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the famous and much loved, original Kyalami Racetrack, north of Johannesburg, which existed from 1961 to 1987, until a new revamped, circuit was constructed.
A book on the history of the original circuit was launched at the Top Gear Festival held in March. The introduction of the coffee table book was an emotional and nostalgic experience for many who visited our stand and browsed through a dummy copy of the book. They were reminded of the good old days when up to 100,000 spectators would converge on the iconic circuit to enjoy and soak up the atmosphere of the South African Grands Prix, Nine Hour and Wynns 1000 endurance races, the three World Championship Motorcycle Grands Prix, not to mention the popular national meetings. Dim and distant memories of the smoke of the many braai’s (barbeques) wafting lazily over the circuit , spectators perched on home-made scaffolding watching great motor racing quickly came to mind!
Kyalami was researched and written over a 25-year period by Capetonian, André Loubser, a long-standing member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists and contributor to several overseas motoring magazines.
In 1986, André started researching and writing the history of Kyalami from the time the search began to find a suitable site, the design considerations and the construction undertaken by Basil Read to the holding of the last international race in 1987.
The end result is a magnificent 400 page book on the definitive history of the original circuit. The book contains over 1,100 photos, many of which have not before been published. The author has covered the early days of motor racing in South Africa and therafter the international events held at Kyalami, including the respective entry lists, qualifying grids and results. A special chapter is devoted to the famous Kyalami Ranch located just up the road from the circuit, which hosted most of the international drivers. Fans will also enjoy the profiles of local racing greats such as Sarel van der Merwe, Basil van Rooyen, John Love, Dave Charlton, Arnold Chatz, Bob Olthoff, Eddie Keizan, Paddy Driver, Ian Scheckter and others.
South Africa’s only F1 World Champion, Jody Scheckter, who was honoured at a gala dinner during the Festival, wrote the foreword to the book. There are also memories of Kyalami written by former F1 World Champions, Sir Jackie Stewart and the late Denny Hulme as well as former Le Mans 24 hour winner, Derek Bell.
click here to read selected pages from the book