OFF ROAD FRATERNITY MOURNS BEVAN BERTHOLDT
The Absa Off Road Championship fraternity was plunged into mourning when Bevan Bertholdt was tragically killed in a helicopter accident in Rooiwal, north of Pretoria, on Tuesday afternoon.
Bertholdt (39) and flight instructor Boeta Austin were killed when the Robertson 22 helicopter crashed into a private yard. At the time of the accident Bertholdt was renewing his flying licence.
Bertholdt's father Bodo has been a South African off road racing stalwart for 40 years and his sons, Bevan and Gary, followed in his footsteps. Bevan raced motorcycles from a young age and was notoriously wild and extremely fast.
Bevan quickly built a reputation for big crashes and a big heart. He finished in the top 10 of the Roof of Africa on a motorcycle before turning his attention to circuit racing where he became one of the "brat pack" competing in Class E in the Stannic Group N championship.
Bevan's talent again came through and in 1995 he won the Rookie of the Year accolade as well as a trip to the famous Jim Russell School of Racing at Donington. The following year Bevan moved into Class B in the ex Duncan Vos works Nissan with backing from The Star newspaper.
It was only natural Bevan would end up in off road racing, and in 1998 he made his debut in a GRE singleseater built in America. He rebuilt the car and, in true Bevan style, the wildest paint job imaginable was a true reflection of how he lived.
Bevan won his first national off road at Tarkastad in the Special Vehicle category in 1999, starting from the back of the grid, and in the following year again won from behind on the Sugarbelt 400. A lifelong dream came true in 2006 when Bevan was offered a drive with the factory Team Castrol Toyota team.
Bevan and Robin Houghton finished third in the championship and won the Ford Carnival City 400, the final event of the season. Midway through 2007 Bevan decided to retire from off road racing and turn his attention to flying helicopters.
The lure of off road racing was too much for Bevan and, after sporadic appearances in a Porter in 2009, he returned to the Absa Off Road Championship this year in the latest spec BAT with backing from lab88. Partnered by Danie Stassen on the Human Auto 400 the pair won the Donaldson Prologue, but were sidelined in the race with a gearbox malfunction.
"Bevan was unique and did things in his own special way," said South African National Off Road Car Racing Association chairman Richard Schilling. "He was one of the fastest drivers around, and his enthusiasm for off road racing was infectious.
"Bevan was a nice guy, and a character in every sense of the word, and he is going to be sorely missed. Our thoughts at this difficult time are with Bevan's wife and son, and with Bodo, Gary and the rest of the Bertholdt family."
Bevan is survived by his wife Linda and son Tyron.