Phakisa: SA NASCAR hits the road, or does it?

In a bizarre twist SA NASCAR's scheduled start on 5 August at the Phakisa oval has been derailed by the announcement from Phakisa, South Africa's only big oval, that it will not allow the series on it's track this season. As a result these ...

In a bizarre twist SA NASCAR's scheduled start on 5 August at the Phakisa oval has been derailed by the announcement from Phakisa, South Africa's only big oval, that it will not allow the series on it's track this season. As a result these predominantly oval track type racers will be racing on road courses only, while the big Phakisa oval will not host any racing at all.

This follows a battle for control for the series between Phakisa and SASCAR. At a meeting on 15 May Motorsport South Africa allocated control of the NASCAR style series to SASCAR, a company formed by multiple powerboat champion, and car racer, Peter Lindenberg, Jimmy Price of Hi-Tech Automotive, who builds the cars, as well as Jan Johnston, Fanie Theron and Tim Woolcott.

Under the terms of the decision by Motorsport SA the Phakisa Circuit, South Africa's only big oval, was guaranteed 6 races over the first 12 months as well as races for at least the next 5 years. The first of the build-up series races was scheduled to take place on 28 May, but this schedule slipped. The series was then to be formally launched on 3 July, at the Hi Tech Auto factory, with rolling chassis delivered by 1 July and engines and driveline components arriving fom the USA in the middle of the month.

The SASCAR racers are designed to be much cheaper to operate than South Africa's current V8 series, the Transam style Wesbank Modified series. To this end the series will run a with sealed engines, a variety of specified components, cheaper and narrower tyres etc.

According to SASCAR one of their cars will be less than half the cost of a Wesbank Modified car. Key components, like body panels, gearboxes and brakes will also be half the cost, while other, like wheels and shock absorbers, will be a tenth of the cost.

To further reduce the running costs there are strict limits to testing, and SASCAR will operate a central spare parts pool, thereby reducing investment that individual teams would otherwise have to make. The cars are designed to be prepared and run by teams of as small as two members, with limited workshop facilities, with no need to buy in expensive outside expertise.

In short, as car builder Jimmy Price of Hi-Tech Automotive says, "SASCARS are built like tractors. They are basic, simple, strong and very, very fast." With little grip and good power, they should provide very entertaining racing, with lots of spectacular sliding in the corners and good straightline speed.

In order to increase the driver's income, they will also share in a percentage of gate takings, as well as the contingency sponsorship income. In addition sales of merchandise will also be managed by SASCAR, both on the SASCAR website and at the tracks themselves.

So far the car has been tested at the Phakisa oval, and at the Killarney, Aldo Scribante and Kyalami road courses. While the laptimes are not that spectacular, due to the narrow tyres and low downforce, straightline speed is something else - 161mph is the fastest any non-turbo car has ever reached on the straight at Killarney.

In addition to the SASCAR races, negotiations are also under way for the cars to run as a slower class in the Wesbank V8 series.

- Barry de Klerk bj@cyberhost.co.za

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Series Stock car
Drivers Peter Li