Killarney International Raceway, celebrated its 70th birthday on the Heritage Day weekend. About a hundred guests were treated to breakfast at the track clubhouse on Sunday morning. While they ate, old film footage and black-and-white photos flashed up on screens around them, taking many of the grey heads down memory lane.
Killarney’s executive manager, Des Easom, spoke about Killarney’s history, while JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, and racing legend Sarel van der Merwe delivered special birthday messages.
But the highlight of the morning was the awards handed to the four raceway stalwarts: Adrian Pheiffer, 86, Denis Joubert, 82, Dr Harry Wade, 89, and Brian Hoskins, 70.
Killarney’s chairman, Gavin Cerff, read the award citations for the men who had ploughed their blood, sweat and tears into making Killarney what it is today, and each received an engraved glass trophy mounted on a base.
Mr Hoskins was unable to attend as he is visiting family in Hong Kong. Mr Cerff said Mr Hoskins, who was vice-chairman of the Western Province Motor Club (WPMC) for 16 years, was “a motorcycle racer and arguably the most knowledgeable clerk of the course in South Africa”.
Mr Pheiffer, was called up first for his award. He still works at Killarney as a motoring writer and historian and was the chairman of the WPMC and its predecessor, the Metropolitan Motorcycle and Motor Club (Mets).
“He also arranged the Goodwood Motor Show that saved Killarney from bankruptcy and launched go-karts in South Africa and Motocross at Killarney,” said Mr Cerff.
Mr Pheiffer shared his wealth of knowledge of Killarney’s history in a pamphlet handed out to guests at the celebration. In it he speaks of the raceway’s humble beginnings when the “Divisional Council bypassed a section of the main road to Malmesbury and in 1947, the Amateur Automobile Racing Club (AARC) received permission to use the now dead section for motorsport”.
Later when members became “hungry for real racing” they bought 51 hectares of council land in the Potsdam Outspan for a motor race track.
He also spoke about how, in 1965, the amalgamation of Mets, AARC and other clubs led to the formation of the WPMC that has dominated motorsport in the area ever since.
When he received his award, he delved further into Killarney’s history, saying they chose to build the clubhouse on that location as it was the “highest spot” at the grounds.
Mr Joubert, an architect and president of the WPMC, was honoured because all of the buildings on the Killarney site started on his drawing board.
“He championed new facilities for income and the track’s sustainability. He was secretary of the Mets and WPMC and WPMC chairman from 1970 to 2006,” said Mr Cerff.
Mr Joubert recalled a time when Milnerton was just a “little dorp” with a few houses scattered around.
“I’ve had a tremendous time at Killarney. I’ve known so many people around South Africa who participated in motorsport. It’s been a great pleasure to know so many people for such a long time.
“I’ve enjoyed whatever we did and achieved at Killarney.”
He said he had faith in those who now held the reins and added that Killarney would be a fixture in Cape Town for a a very long time.
“It is a must for a City of this size,” he said.
DrWadewas recognised for his many years of service behind the scenes for any medical emergency and care at the track. He spoke about how they had collected money to build the foundations of Killarney, and he thanked everyone for all the pleasure he had had at Killarney.
The three men, bent with age, had guests in stitches with their light banter and jabs at each other, showing that years of friendship had indeed turned into a brotherhood.
Mr Smith hailed Killarney as “one of Cape Town’s assets, built, financed and expanded without support from government or the taxpayer”.
Mr Van der Merwe, fondly known as “Supervan”, first raced at Killarney in 1969 and has become a honorary member of the track.
He said the racetrack had helped to shape his own racing career along with other champion, such as Koos Swanepoel, Denis Joubert and Deon Joubert.
“Killarney, Ferrari and I have something in common – we are all 70 years old,” he said.
Guests gathered outside the clubhouse where Mr Smith unveiled a special commemorative board depicting the track’s history.