Between the covers: Kyalami & Killarney

The newsletter’s monthly book review feature which focuses on motoring literature of interest to FMM’s followers, hosted by Wendy Monk. A pair of books that record the history of two of SA’s iconic racing circuits are the subjects of this month’s review…

Kyalami – A Reflection on the History of the Original Circuit 1961-1987 by Andre Loubser, published 2011.

I can remember a few years back while helping Andre source particular photographs for this book, asking him why he had taken so long to finish it. In answer, he showed me the mock-up and the blank spaces that needed to be filled. “I want it to be just right,” he told me. And he was right…

With the invaluable help of Eddi Londt, Andre has given us a superb book on one of the world’s iconic race circuits, the ‘old’ Kyalami. It is organised, readable, beautiful and full of photographs, all 1180 of them, and covers all the major events from the birth to the end of the original great circuit. The book starts with Kyalami’s early years and moves on to its main focus, namely the Blue Riband events from 1961 to 1987. Every Grand Prix is covered from 1961 to 1985, the endurance races from 1961 to 1987, and the Motorcycle Grands Prix from 1983 to 1985, each event portrayed with its own story, anecdotes, photos and race results.

Andre has not forgotten the characters that were attracted to the racing, nor those people who graced the circuit over the years such as the organisers, marshals and controlling bodies, and even the part played by the famous Kyalami Ranch. Included are the memories of the likes of Jackie Stewart, Denny Hulme and Dave Clapham, and biographies of South Africa’s top drivers of the day such as Dave Charlton, the Scheckter brothers – Jody wrote the foreword – Eddie Keizan, Peter Gough, Sarel van der Merwe, Basil van Rooyen and many more. The book is dedicated to Andre’s wife Gill and the late, great Stirling Moss, one of his closest friends.

I have read Andre’s book for pleasure as well as relying on its statistical integrity to help me during research I have carried out over the years and, either way, I highly recommend it. The highest compliment I can give is that if ever I had been in the midst of writing a book on Kyalami and saw this volume, I would chuck my pen away and look for another project.

Killarney: 50 golden racing years 1960 to 2011 by Adrian Pheiffer, published 2010.

I have been extremely lucky that Killarney has been my local circuit for all but four of the 50 years I have been in this country. When I heard that Adrian was going to write its history for the 50th anniversary of the circuit I thought, ‘good luck with that one’. The book is a triumph, a cornucopia of stories about the circuit from how it all started, who played a part, who has raced there, who marshalled, commentated, sponsored… everything, in fact, that you need to know.

Adrian has made his own choices about the memories he wanted included and, knowing he couldn’t mention everyone who has raced there or every race that has been run, he selected what he considered encapsulated the spirit of 50 years of Killarney. The book also mentions early South African motor sport from Mouille Point to the first Grosvenor Grand Prix at Pollsmoor, Gunners Circle, the Camps Bay Hill Climb and lots more.

We have been privileged to see South Africa’s best drivers and riders in different disciplines during Killarney’s 50 years, together with some great overseas counterparts, and Adrian has included great biographies and tributes to some of them. Sponsors from the motor, fuel and oil industries are also profiled, along with what Adrian terms the Friends of Killarney such as one-make car clubs and the media. The book is beautifully illustrated with hundreds of photographs, covering every aspect of racing from the days when fans stood on the side of the track and drivers and riders wore suits and no helmets.

As Adrian reminds us ‘Killarney is the only motor sport complex in South Africa that is controlled and administered by its own sporting club, solely for the benefit of its members’. And who better to tell the story than Adrian Pheiffer, who has been there from the start. A great read.

The Kyalami book is available from The Franschhoek Motor Museum for R795 excluding and packing and postage.  The Killarney book is available from the WPMC office at the circuit – e-mail Price R350.