Story by Bernard De Gouveia Photography by RacePics.co.za
I have been a BMW fan for as long as I can remember. When I was in primary school the E36 M3 was launched in South Africa the specs of this car was more recognizable to me than the Times Table. It took me a couple of years to buy a BMW – but I finally did.
I joined the BMW Car Club Gauteng and my love for this brand has only grown. At the Kyalami Track day last year, Manny Ribeiro took me for a HotLap in a Supercharged E36 M3 Race car. WOW, what an amazing ride, going “flat taps” down the mineshaft and him not tapping off was absolutely mind blowing. I was hooked and could not forfeit another round.
On the 16th of April 2016 was the club’s first Track day for 2016 at the very impressive Red Star Raceway. Only 30 minutes from JHB close to Delmas on the N12 highway it has truly top notch facilities including spotlessly clean toilets, a great canteen and even a swimming pool and play area for kids. There are also a few chalets and ample camping and caravan facilities for those who don't want to get up before sunrise on the Saturday morning.
The day was guaranteed to be great fun, Colin van Son and I assisted in registering the drivers, Manny Ribeiro, Dylan Martin and Craig Withers did the Scrutineering of the cars, Sandra Ribeiro and Ady Ragie were on duty with the Regalia sales and our resident comedian Gerhard Botha was on the Mic entertaining everyone.
Just before 8:00 we had the driver’s briefing, which I attended as I was participating in Track School. Shortly thereafter, the track opened to the session 1 cars. Later session 2 opened and the Track’s School M3s went out. Christo Evangelou one of the BDE drivers took me out in the M3. Normally a student first goes out as a passenger to see the lines and experience the M3 in full flight. But I was rather ”fortune” if you can call it that and was placed in the driver’s seat straight away. I was so excited to navigate the M3 around the track that Christo told me that either I don’t listen or something else, (obviously I wasn’t listening). It was with that, that I realised the importance of Track school, I learnt some valuable tips making a vast improvement in my later stint and at the prize giving was awarded the most improved driver of the day, thanks Christo.
During the day we also had the winners from the Bridgestone Facebook competition go around the track to experience one of the M3s together with spectators who also managed to do some hot laps. Bridgestone also had their Marketing Executive come through with his wife who was also afforded the opportunity to experience his company’s product gripping around the track. In between all this our entrants were out on the track strutting their stuff, with Leon Loubser in his E92 335i race car setting a blistering time of 2:01.650, followed by Willie De Beer in his Porsche GT3 Cup with 2:04.506 and in 3rd place was Clinton Spence in Subaru STI with a 2:09.644
Although we didn’t have a full field, we still had some spectacular cars, from race cars to road cars, Gianni Giannocaro was there is his M3 CSL race car, Rick Loureiro (aka Ricky Lou) in his beautiful Jagermeister E30 race car and his brother Paulo came through with a recently acquired 2002ti race car, which eventually started once fuelled up. This was actually the first time the brothers drove the car on a track, what a great looking little car. Then there were some amazing road cars like Hein Momberg with his F12 M6, Len-Henry Gobey in his F80 M3 and Andreas Meier (aka Ze German) in one of his 2 E46 M3 CSL’s just to name a few. We also had some non-BMW cars like Willie De Beer in his 911 GT3 Cup race car, Paul Munro in his Bright Red 911 GT3, my personal favourite of the non-BMW entries was Otto Coetzer in his Yellow Carrera GT4 and a very fast Subaru STI belonging to Clinton Spence.
The day ended with me taking the plunge by taking one of my most prized possessions my F30 335i MPerformance onto the track. Once I filled in the necessary documents and applied for a MSA licence I was ready. Colin was my passenger and we took on that track like a “beast” well that was what I thought as a newbie to such events. I was nowhere near the fastest driver on the track nor was I pushing my car to its limits, but I loved every minute of it and managed to achieve 3rd place in my class on the track after doing 2 stints each with 2 hot laps.
I also had the opportunity to go with Colin in his 1971 E9 BMW 3.0 CSi. Having the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car meant I stayed on the right hand side of the car but as a passenger this time. For an old lady she sure goes well and was great fun.
Autoquip Alberton sponsored the trophies for the day and took it to the next level by giving each trophy winner a mile extender voucher worth over R1500 which gives wheel alignments, wheel balancing and puncture repairs for any car at any Autoquip. Those who didn't get a trophy at prizegiving received a free wheel alignment voucher from Autoquip Alberton which can be used at any Autoquip branch.
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for the day, namely Bridgestone and Autoquip Alberton, if it were not for you we wouldn’t be able to have fun on the track experiencing your products and services. Finally, if you have never experienced the M3’s around a track, I strongly urge you to join us at future track days and sign up for track school, it is seriously a must for any Petrolhead.