The sound of several high-powered engines bouncing off the cliff face on the spectacular roads of the Western Cape produced an auditory symphony eagerly soaked up by the crowds lining the route for the first running of the Cape 1000 recently.
Some 40 true classics, the oldest of which dated back to 1956, set off from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town for four days of motoring, averaging 400 kilometres a day and enduring rain, wind and thunderstorms along the route.
Ross Crichton, who founded The Cape 1000, is justifiably pleased with how the event was run.
“It still needs to sink in,” he says. “I’ve done many motoring events before, but I have never experienced such a positive response, from the participants and public alike, as I did with The Cape 1000. The organising team did an incredible job.”
The Cape 1000 is a classic and exotic car rally inspired by some of the world’s most famous and historic motoring events. It is run in four classes: Tribute (1927-1957), Classic (Pre-1977), Modern Classic (1977-1996) and Sports Car (1997-2022).
As the event’s name suggests, it is run over a 1000 miles (1 600 km) over the course of 4 days, with 60% of the route consisting of ‘grand touring’ and the remaining 40% comprising challenging regularity stages, during which navigators and drivers have to work closely together and meticulously follow the stage’s timing and speed instructions to achieve success and, hopefully, score some points.
So, it’s not a race, but certainly still a challenge, one which is won through consistency, reliability and accuracy.
The route initially wound its way around the Peninsula, taking in the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive, before heading for Gordon’s Bay and the stunning Clarence Drive along the coast.
A temporary cafe was set up along the route on each day to give participants an opportunity to stretch their legs… and for the venerable classic cars’ engines to cool down.
From Clarens Drive participants toured to Hermanus before heading inland for some Winelands scenery and then sweeping back to the coast for the first overnight stop. Already on the first day it was clear that the high temperatures would create problems for some of the older cars. The 1957 Austin-Healey 100/6 driven by Greg Marucchi and Hannes Oosthuizen overheated twice, but the crew managed to complete the first day nevertheless, in 7th place overall.
Day Two took participants from Hermanus inland to the towns of Bredasdorp and Swellendam, over the stunning Tradouw Pass, through Villiersdorp and over the iconic Franschhoek Pass to the overnight stop. It was another tough day for the older cars, with the distance of 474 km made all the more difficult by high temperatures and a multitude of hills to ascend.
It was also during this day that the camaraderie of this event was on display, when the De Siena/Aspeling crew in the Citroën DS could not get the French car going again after the refuelling stop. Matt Kreeve, driving his Concours-condition Porsche 356 stopped and quickly found the problem (a loose distributor cable) and the ‘Goddess’ was swiftly on its way again.
The Tradouw Pass was a favourite among the participants, and to hear the engine sounds of V12-powered Ferraris and Lamborghinis bounce off its cliff faces was music to the ears of the petrolheads enjoying a lunch break at the day’s Cape 1000 Cafe, situated halfway up the pass.
The passes of Day Two were again proving problematic for the older cars, however, with the Austin-Healey overheating twice; it required a tow to a refreshment stop after grinding to a halt on a hill near Villiersdorp. A battery change got it going again, but the niggles soon returned, with the British sports car only just managing to crest the Franschhoek Pass and then freewheeling into town. It appeared as if The Cape 1000 had claimed its first victim.
Day Three saw participants travel back to Cape Town for a few laps of the Killarney racing circuit. The Healey had been fixed again (distributor) and was in the queue to go around the track. For many of the participants it was their first opportunity to drive their cars on a racing circuit, and while the Italian and German exotics looked at home blasting around the track, the same could not be said of the older cars – particularly a ‘67 Citroën DS gliding down the main straight in pursuit of a 1969 Porsche 911 S driven, rather vigorously, by Michelle Hambly-Grobler.
From Killarney, the route took participants into the Swartland, and a new challenge could be seen on the horizon – massive thunderstorms! Pouring rain, howling winds and lightning strikes made the going rather tough for particularly the older cars, but The Cape 1000’s mechanic always managed to get the cars going again. It was on this day that three of the Tribute category cars encountered problems – the MG and Austin-Healey ran out of fuel, and the Triumph suffered from fuel starvation. Drenched and exhausted, the cars’ crews made it to the end but, sadly, the beautiful Mercedes-Benz 300SL had to retire due to a clutch problem.
The last overnight stop was at Shelley Point in St Helena Bay, with the convoy leaving for Cape Town after another loop of the Swartland area and more regularity stages. Again, temperatures soared and some cars showed signs of ‘fatigue’. A punctured radiator eliminated one of the Lamborghini Huracans, while the beautiful Jaguar XK150’s steering failed (thankfully at low speed).
When the colourful convoy reached the cooler climes of Cape Town it seemed every petrolhead in the Mother City was awaiting them. Motoring enthusiasts, young and old, were out in force to support and wave The Cape 1000 participants through to the finish line at the V&A Waterfront.
While The Cape 1000 is more of an experience than a competition, points were scored in the regularity stages, and the prize-giving ceremony on the last night was anxiously awaited.
- Tribute Class – Overall Winners: Greg Marucchi & Hannes Oosthuizen (Austin-Healey 100/6)
- Classic Class – Overall Winners: Ciro de Siena & Duwyne Aspeling (Citroën DS19)
- Modern Classic Class – Overall Winners: Stuart Kidgell & Dawie de Villiers (Alfa Romeo GTV6 3.0)
- Sports Car Class – Overall Winner: “Hollywood” (Lamborghini Murcielago)
- Cape 1000 Overall Winners: Stuart Kidgell & Dawie de Villiers (Alfa Romeo GTV6 3.0)
- Spirit of the Cape 1000 Award (as voted for by participants): Michelle Hambly-Grobler (Porsche 911 S)