07 July, 2009

Give me black, says rally ace

The journey here began with a newspaper headline titled, "Motorsports Needs More Blacks", many years ago that sparked interest in the man that we know as "Africa's fastest brother," Gugu Zulu, one of South Africa's leading rally drivers talked about the developments in South Africa's Motorsports industry in a Think!Fest seminar during the ongoing National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.Zulu began his presentation with a short insight into his life's achievements and what motorcar racing all about.
Motorsports is defined as a collection of sports which have an engine, two to four wheels, which can be raced. The various types of racing include, Formula One, Nascar, Track, Rally, Off Road, Drag Racing, Karting, Midget and Oval Racing.The foundation for motorsports begins at Karting Zulu said."Go-Karting is like the kindergarten of motorsports," he said. This is a popular sport in South African and is sustained by interest from young children who can develop to the next stage known as the junior section. Track too has a following that involves the running of Road shows across the country.
Production racing cars are used and these are your Golfs, Audis and your VW's, Zulu said, adding that South Africa also has a healthy motorised riding industry known as the Motorbike Super. Rally racing is another field in motorsports that Zulu enjoys because, "It's purely controlled chaos." It has a navigator who tells the driver how far he is and where his next turn is. "It's pure speed and madness," Zulu said, adding that he once flew off the road at 170km/hr!Zulu said that SA motorsport is seen as a hobby for a select few and there isn't enough support from the South African audience. He said that while there are 450000 American fans of motorsport, there South Africa has just 10,000 making it difficult for the industry to be sustained.
Most drivers self-fund or get corporate sponsorship.This might explain why there are not too many black South Africans in motorsports.Zulu believes that motorsport is a great marketing tool for corporate business in South Africa. "Motorsport is a huge mobile billboard," he said, although he lamented the negative perception of the sport in corporate circles. Zulu also talked about expensive budgets for motorsport."When it comes to Africa, it all depends on whose got the money," Zulu said.

By Amanda Onamandla Mathe

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