all you’re interested in are elapsed times, you can stop reading right
now. But if you’re a speed demon, stick
with me. It was round five of the South
African National Drag Racing Championships, at Tarlton International Raceway,
and the speeds were wicked. How about
14.86 at 148 in an old Mazda pick-up, one so tiny that it nearly flops over
anytime anyone with a gut gets into it?
Or 12.20 at 172 in a ’72 Camaro?
Or 8.90 at 242 in a hot rod Bimmer (that’s right, a 320i with a blown
Chevy small block)? Or, quickest and
fastest of the day, 6.94 at 330 in an alcohol funny car? Monster speeds, all right, but I’ll come
clean. We’re talking kilometers per hour.
is drag racing in Africa, and kph comes with
the territory. But it’s still a
quarter-mile, and racin’s racin’. Any
American drag racer with a pocket calculator would have felt right at home.
drag racing in South Africa
goes back to the 1950s, but, due to FIA rules, national championship events had
to wait until the country had at least two first class facilities. One of them is Tarlton, which Mick van
Rensburg built in 1977. Besides wanting
to give the sport a boost, he needed a place to run his alcohol and top fuel
dragsters and his jet car. While his sons
have taken the keys to the family funmobiles - the dragster, funny car, and Pro
Mod - Mick still makes exhibition passes in the jet car. At round five of this year’s national
championship, Mick was the perfect host, blasting his jet car down the track at
well over 200 mph, despite having to feather the throttle.