BMW Car Club Time Attack
Welcome back dear readers, for what is set to be another article based at the KZN haven of racing – Dezzi Raceway. This time, it was the BMW Car Club of KZN who drummed up the idea and support for this time attack event. For those of you unfamiliar with how a Time Attack event works, you can have a read at some of my previous posts, or just click here.
Heading down the coast early on the Sunday morning, it was clear that this day was set to be a scorcher. The temperature was already nudging 30 degrees Cecilius by the time I arrived, which made the first priority of the day: finding shade.
Even though I was early by Sunday morning standards, most of the competitors had already arrived and claimed their respective spots within the pits/hangars. While walking towards the main action, I spotted this oh-so-beautiful Ferrari 458 sitting next to a very camo and very old Mercedes G Wagon. When the 458 was first introduced, I was a bit wary of the styling, but it has certainly grown on me over the years. Besides, who am I to talk bad of a car that I couldn’t even afford the wheels for? As the day progressed, this 458 never made its way to the track, but Ferrari enthusiasts were still treated to the sight of two 599’s battling it out. More to come on that later…
Unlike some previous time attack iterations that I’d attended in the past, this event wasn’t invite only. This meant that it was first come, first serve on this particular day (probably with a preference being given to BMW drivers). This said, the sheer diversity of cars present in the pits was astounding. Two Nissan R35 Skylines, flanked by an Opel Corsa OPC, parked behind an Audi RS3, which was parked next to a Nissan 200SX. You get the idea… variety was the flavour of the day.
Also, and perhaps more interesting than the cars in attendance, was the fact that this would be the first event to utilize the newly extended section of the track. Dezzi Raceway has grown massively over the years, and is now MSA approved to host racing events. All this is thanks to the aforementioned section of new track, which transforms the previously drift-favored circuit into a track capable of hosting various different types of motorsports (and superbikes too).
With the amount of entries surpassing 60 cars, things would have to run a little differently today in order to ensure that all entrants received a decent portion of track time. The first few heats saw about 15 cars at a time go out for 15 minute sessions, until everyone had tried to lap the track in their quickest possible manner. After this was done, drivers were split down into more refined groups (based on their previous times), and sent back out in groups of 20 for another 15 minute session. This cycle would continue for the rest of the day, with the exception of the session time being cut to 10 minutes. This was understandable, since thrashing a roadcar around a demanding circuit takes its toll rather quickly on items like brakes and tyres. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see competitors exiting the circuit before their session duration was up. And who can blame them? The track features a few very sharp corners, all which lead off to rather intimidating vertical drops. Brake failure here is not an option…
To the testament of the drivers participating on this day, there were very few errors to report. Having 20 cars of varying power on a tight knit track takes a serious amount of concentration and skill to partake in. It wasn’t until the early afternoon that the first major incident happened, when a Lotus kit car spun off the bottom section of the track after an apparent altercation with a Backdraft Racing AC Cobra. The driver was perfectly fine, but the car did look a little worse for wear. While I didn’t stick around much after that, I didn’t hear any further horror stories. Another shoutout here goes to the driver of the red Ferrari 599. My friend, you nearly lost it so badly in that top corner, but you somehow held on and managed to save your piece of mobile Maranello architecture from becoming a feature in the hills surrounding the track. Respect. It’s good to see people buying cars like these, and actually using them. If you can afford it, then why not?
The thing that I love about events like this is the range of drivers that it brings together. It’s not too often that you’ll get to see an E30 BMW M3 chasing down a Porsche 911 on the main straight. But these encounters do happen here, and its wonderful. No one cares how fast your car does 0-100 in (though this might be of some help on the main straight). Tracks like this separate the fast drivers from the fast cars. Anyone can plant the throttle and go fast in a straight line. But to keep that momentum up around a track, with climbs, turns, and drops? That takes a fast driver.
At this point, I might as well point out the elephant in the room. This was an event organized by the BMW Car Club, so where are the photos of BMW’s? Well, that’s awkward, because I didn’t exactly manage to get any decent photos of the Bavarian machines on the track. Photography of fast paced cars is quite a tricky thing, and I didn’t manage to get any even slightly useable photos of BMW’s on the track. They were there though. Trust me. Now back to Port Shepstone…
The majority of my day was spent shuffling around the track between any shady spots on offer, and then back to check the resulting times on the TV screen. The screen was useful in some aspects, but somewhat useless to me. It showed the drivers name, and their time… not what car they were driving. I get that it doesn’t cater to the spectator wandering around the pits, but it would have still been nice to put a name to a car. It was then that I found a miniscule sheet hung up in the hangar, showing what name was driving which car. This made the day a bit more interesting, as it was possible to piece together what cars were laying out the fastest times.
And the results were certainly interesting. The fastest lap time belonging to a road legal car was held by a grey Ferrari 599, with two other non-road legal cars holding the title of second and first place. A black Porsche 911 Turbo was also putting in some blisteringly fast lap times, which was no real surprise. I mean, have you seen a video of a 911 Turbo on a track? Those things are monsters, and the exhaust note is equally sonorous.
Unlike the older days, these events can be relived multiple times, thanks to the advent of modern technology. Now I hear you say, “you idiot. What does that mean?”. Well, let me explain. Most of these cars owners had attached a tiny camera to some part of their cars to film the entire escapade. That’s right. It’s very rare to see a car at one of these events without some form of video recording technology to capture the entire escapade. And most of these owners like to upload their laps to YouTube, which makes it great for people like me to get a taste of what they were doing being the wheel of their car, while I was behind the lens of my camera. A quick search of YouTube with the keywords “dezzi raceway” will deliver you with a plethora of results for your viewing pleasure. Go ahead and have a look why don’t you?