A week of motoring sights, sounds and speed starts today, Friday 13 May, with the 2012 Knysna Speed Festival. While it’s hard to believe it has already been 12 months since the last event, motoring enthusiasts are looking forward to a solid 10-days of indulging their passion against the backdrop of some of South Africa’s best scenery. The schedule of events is as follows:
Knysna Kart Grand Prix (11 – 12 May):
Karting is fast, fun, challenging and very exciting to watch, but the Knysna Kart Grand Prix is even more special. With an atmosphere not unlike that of the ‘Singapore Grand Prix’, the racing takes place at night, under lights, on the edge of the Knysna lagoon. The event also forms part of the 2012 EP Regional Karting Championship, so the racing is very serious and competition fierce. Spectators are well catered for in terms of vantage points, food and beverage. Free practice takes place on Friday 11th May and a full program of racing on Saturday 12th May.
Knysna Speed Festival 4×4 Challenge (13 May):
An exciting competition for both standard and modified off-road vehicles. The event takes place at the Denron Quarry on the outskirts of Knysna, which is said to offer some challenging obstacles, as well as plenty of parking and spectator points. A group of extreme 4×4 vehicles will entertain the crowds during breaks between the challenge events. These cars are built to go anywhere and should be very exciting to watch in addition to the competition.
4×4 Knysna Elephant Trail (14 – 16 May):
Knysna has some of the most spectacular indigenous forests in South Africa and, from Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th, off-roaders will be able to travel through forests not normally accessible to the public. This is an eco-friendly event for the whole family and should not be missed if you have an off-road vehicle capable of exploring the wild. It offers 6 – 7 hours of unique terrain and extraordinary beauty in the company of 4×4 experts who will ensure your safe passage. No special 4×4 driving skills are required, but entries are limited to 20 vehicles per group due to the sensitive nature of the forest. Three groups are available to join each day and participants are encouraged to bring refreshments and picnics to be enjoyed on the trail. More information from Mario Ferreira at 4×firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knysna Soap Box Derby (16 – 17 May):
Contestants compete on the same track that will be used for the main Hillclimb event. The Soap Box Derby promises to be a lot of fun with local schools competing for top honours, while the Corporate Soap Box Race will see unique and fun challenges, such as the fastest estate agent in Knysna. A ‘build day’ will take place on 12 May at Pennypinchers in the industrial area of Knysna, where all competitors will have assistance with building their cars. There will be prizes for the best decorated cars for both the schools and corporate days. These races are always exciting and the enthusiasm of competitors results in some nail biting racing.
Knysna Speed Festival Charity Golf Day (17 May):
Held at one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, this is a fantastic opportunity to be one of 96-players among some of the most influential business people in the Garden Route. It’s also an opportunity to take a time-out before the action hots up with the weekend’s racing and, if you love Golf and want to do your bit for local charities, well, you’ve got few excuses don’t you.
Classic Car Friday (17 May):
Featuring vehicles exclusively pre-1974, Classic Car Friday follows a similar format to that of the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed, wherein access to the paddocks is granted for the public to see the exotic cars and their drivers up close. This year the diverse and exciting range of cars includes a 1929 Bentley, 1937 DKW F7 Meisterklasse Cabriolette, 1935 Riley TT Sprite, 1933 Alfa Romeo Monza, 1927 Bugatti T37 and a 1939 Lagonda V12, to name a few. The more modern cars include an assortment of MG’s, Austin Healey’s, Alfa Romeo’s, E-Type Jaguars and the inevitable Mini Cooper S. Competitors and spectators are encouraged to join the fun and attend the event in period dress. The organisers say the effect is fun, nostalgic and is in line with the vision of the Knysna Speed Festival to be an event enjoyed by the whole family.
Renault Simola Hillclimb (18 – 20 May):
The main event of the Knysna Speed Week and the undoubtedly the highlight. Beginning with Classic Car Friday, the vintage, classic and historic motoring fraternity will have their day of action on the hill. Forty cars from pre-war to the seventies are expected to participate and, as in previous years, the field is sure to include many of South Africa’s most interesting and valuable historic racing cars. Saturday and Sunday’s action has been dubbed the ‘King of the Hill Shootout’ and is where 80 of the country’s fastest machines will battle it out on the hill. Famous personalities who’ve blasted up the hill in the past include: Sarel van der Merwe, Ian Scheckter, Jaki Scheckter, Robbi Smith, Mike Briggs, Deon Joubert, Leeroy Poulter and two-time World Motocross Champion, Jean Michel Bayle. Some of the cars entered for 2012 include: McLaren MP4-12C; Porsche 917 Le Mans Replica; Porsche 993 GT2R; Nissan GTR; Ferrari F360 Challenge; Ferrari 458; Lamborghini Gallardo; Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and many more.
The title sponsors, Renault, will also be launching a number of new models during the Speed Festival, one of which is the Renault Mégane RS Trophy. With a bump in power from 184 to 195 kW, the front-wheel drive RS Trophy will have more than enough grunt to climb the hill. In fact, our editor, Scott Hayes, will be piloting one of these brand-new Renault Mégane RS Trophy cars in the 2.0-litre turbocharged class, so keep an eye out for the SA Car Fan branded Mégane RS, follow Scott on twitter and feel free to say hello – he might need all the encouragement he can get, but don’t tell him we said that!
There is so much to do and see, so even if you aren’t able to spend the entire week in Knysna, a weekend or overnight trip is highly recommended. Camping facilities are available at the Knysna High School sports fields from Friday 18 to Sunday 20th May at just R100 per site per night, with ablution and shower facilities (remember to bring the tent poles!). The campsite will have a carnival atmosphere, with live bands, DJ’s and ample food and drink. There will also be a shuttle service from the campsite to the Hillclimb during the day.
All that’s left to do is watch this video for a taste of what’s to come, then pack your bags and head out on the highway towards Knysna. See you there.