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A petrol head’s dream weekend

17.06.2015

IF YOU sat at home this past weekend with nothing to do, then you obviously live in a cave, because not only did I attend the Clarkson, Hammond and May Live show, I also stayed awake for 20 of the 24 hours of Le Mans.

On Saturday morning, I headed over to the TicketPro Dome at the Northgate shopping centre. I was going to see three of the biggest motoring personalities, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

I arrived at a sold-out show and I could see the excitement on people’s faces as I made my way into the Dome. The sounds of drift cars revving in the expo area added to the hustle and bustle. Honda even took the opportunity to showcase its much anticipated Civic Type R, which will be launched later this year.

Seated inside and waiting for the show to begin, the lights dimmed and a video played on the two very large overhead screens, featuring a BMW M4 making its way from an undercover car park somewhere in Jo’burg to the TicketPro Dome. The car was shown racing around the CBD and it even “did a doughnut” in the middle of an intersection. There’s something really exciting about seeing a fast sports car drift around corners in Sandton. The roads were obviously closed off because there was no traffic in any of the shots. The BMW M4 made its way into the Dome with haste. Suddenly, the screens went black and as the lights came on the M4 darted out from behind the curtains. The music, the sound of the car and the visual pleasure of watching it drift and slide around was brilliant!

After that little opening scene, the three hosts made their way into the arena. The crowd erupted in applause. Gymkhana legend, Ken Block, entered the arena in his purpose-built 845HP Hoonicorn, a four-wheel-drive drifting monster. He drifted it around and made lots of smoke by spinning all four wheels at once; it was loud! The four of them entertained us with car banter as well as putting on a host of action packed events. There was chariot racing where the horses were replaced by four scooters tied together.  One of the best parts of the show for me, had to have been the fire-dancing girls. Two girls came out and danced with fire while cars drifted around them. Jeremy, Richard and James also paid tribute to Lamborghini, which was something special.

The lights dimmed once more and out came a Lamborghini Miura, the Italian brand’s first real supercar. It was followed by every model, up until the latest Huracan and Aventador. The cars drove around the arena with such grace, which was quite emotional.

The show also included stunt bikes and some of the latest high-end cars available today. Mercedes-Benz even débuted its forthcoming AMG GTS model, during the show. After an action packed game of car soccer, the boys bade us all farewell. It was great to finally see them, live, and the audience loved them.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t stay long to enjoy the other attractions, such as the energy drink promo girls because I had to make my way to Chevrolet in Woodmead to watch the legendary race that is the 24 hours of Le Mans. I missed the start due to - yes you guessed it – traffic! Anyway, I made it to the venue half an hour after the start.

Chevrolet had set up a top-class venue complete with a comfy viewing room, a nap room with heaters and bean bags. There was an abundance of snacks and even two racing simulators for us to try our hand at racing around the Le Mans racetrack. They also had their Camaro ZL1 on display for us to drool over. A few of us diehard racing fans decided to stay up as long as we could, to catch as much of the action as possible.

After many hours and even more cups of coffee later, we made it through the night. I witnessed some great racing between the LMP1 cars from Audi and Porsche as well as between the number 64 Chevrolet Corvette and the number 51 Ferrari 458 Italia. At the end of it all, it was Porsche that took victory this year, ending Audi’s five-year winning streak followed by the Chevrolet Corvette team winning their class in the C7. I even had one of my tweets read out over the live international broadcast, which was quite nice.

All-in-all it was a great weekend, full of motoring fun but don’t think these were the only events on the go this past weekend, oh no! There was the South African Super GP superbike series, which took place at Red Star Raceway as well as a few other localised events. We are really spoilt for choice in good old SA when it comes to motoring events; you just need to know where to look and you’re sure to find something well worth attending.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
17.06.2015
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