History

South Africa has a long and proud history of hosting Grand Prix racing. 

The South African Grand Prix came about in 1934 after a local newspaper editor, Brud Bishop wrote about his idea of a 6 lap motor race around the scenic coastal road just outside the town of East London, on the southern tip of Africa.  

Mr. Pirow (Minister of Railways and Defence) handing the trophy to Whitney Straight

 

It captured the attention of two wealthy young American brothers, Whitney and Michael Straight and their friend, the debonair Dick Seaman (who would go on to become a Grand Prix Driver for the Mercedes Silver Arrows team), who shipped three cars to South Africa to compete, including Whitney's race winning Maserati. The men flew themselves in a Straight's Dragon Rapide aeroplane from Britain all the way down to South Africa just in time for the race.

 

Later 40,000 spectators gathered in the little town of East London, South Africa to witness grand prix racing history, which was the first South African Grand Prix. 

 

 Pictured above: Miss K. Petre, Lionel Meyer & Mario

Skipping a year, the SA Grand Prix returned to the circuit in 1936 and in 1937, this  time attended by a great many more international competitors including two Silver Arrows Auto Unions.

 

 

 

The SA Grand Prix was supported by the Grosvenor GP in Cape Town and the  Rand GP in Johannesburg, as a Winter Series for Northern Hemisphere drivers, continuing until 1939 when WWII brought a temporary halt to motor racing in the  country.

 

Throughout the 1960’s, and for another three decades until 1994, South Africa hosted many Formula One World Championship events, supported by its own local Formula
One series. GP racing is therefore firmly entrenched in local folklore.