“Shit. You made it”. That is what everyone told me today. Of course I made it, did you think I would miss the premier top end event in the country? My flights were booked 6 months ago! By the way, I’m typing this while on the plane home….

I was quite excited about the event, but the tragic and sudden passing of Ivan Tolley, the proprietor of ODI Raceway where the event was held, put a bit of a damper on my build-up. Ivan wanted racing to continue though, no matter what, and in the last days prior to the event, there was a lot of hype, especially since there were a number of call outs and challenges laid down.

“So, did the event live up to its expectation?” was another question people asked me today. I never stop being surprised at the support I get, how my opinions are valued, and the love I am shown at events out of Cape Town. I wonder why? That’s a topic for another day, or which I will tackle in SHUDLEY’S TAKE in the upcoming issue.

So, how was it? Let me say that while people think I like to bitch, all I ever do is give constructive criticism, to make events better, to make the industry better and, well, judging from the compliments I receive, many people value what I have to say too but more than that, they value that I call it as it is. It is for this reason that I express my opinion, which is an educated one, very honestly, no matter who you are.

I’ve attended all the Fastest in the Land events since its inaugural one, and judging from previous ones, this year it was a success too. It wasn’t without glitches though, and I think it is only fair to mention them. There were constant delays and it wasn’t free-flowing at all. I think it makes a huge difference to the quality of race events if you see cars racing non-stop down the strip. Having said that, the glitches that occurred weren’t anyone’s fault, it is just how it is. Much like a race car, you can cover all your bases during preparation, but if it wants to break at the start line, it will break, no matter how well you have prepared. So too with the technical glitches on the day. The 1km speeds couldn’t always be recorded, but most of the competitors wanted 800m speeds, as it is more in line with international half mile standards.

The other problem, and I’ll frank here, it irritated me to no end, was crowd control, or lack thereof, at the start line.  The crowd were generally well-behaved, which is what you get when the event runs smoothly, but you can’t have people begging for spectators to move  behind barriers, with pleas falling on deaf ears, with such high-powered cars in close proximity. It was a disaster waiting to happen. The start line and burnout area needs to be completely off limits.  The disappointing thing was this was the case at previous events too. Then already, I suggested fencing at the start line with access control and proper marshals, but apparently there is a huge possibility of the fencing being stolen, a grim reminder that even though we have world class high end cars, we still live in South Africa.

Those were my only two real issues. Everything else was very well organised. By 3pm the food stalls were still fully stocked and refreshments on a hot day didn’t run out. Oh, and there were bins, even though most people didn’t use them. The cars were top notch,  most anyway, and so was the racing. I was a bit disappointed that none of the Cape Town cars impressed, besides for Sulaiman Effendi’s freshly built 2JZ E30, which showed lots of potential. Most of the other Cape Town cars had issues on the day, which is becoming a bit of a common occurance. But hey, when the Stormers choke, we still support them, right? They might not have had decent runs in terms of speeds but Team Cape Town never fails when it comes to entertaining the crowds with balls to the wall racing and burnouts. My favourite car of the day was without a doubt the green Full Boost built 2JZ-powered E36 BMW. It was entertaining to watch and a speed of 305kmh is not to be scoffed at. Lance Pillay’s Mk1 Golf was pretty awesome too and was not just fast, but is extremely well-kept. I was quite impressed with Abdool’s Mclaren, and it was a lot faster than I expected it to be.

Everyone I spoke to, and I spoke to everyone, was happy with the event. Yes, there were technical glitches, yes the day dragged a bit, yes there were frustrations, but that’s racing. Also, even with the “turbo lag” of the event, we had the best promo girls to keep us company. Some of us more than others, no names will be mentioned….

Many people, including me, are of the view that these type of events have become chequebook racing, and I’ve heard “I can’t afford to race here” often. That is true, but on the other hand, it is not every day one gets to witness 1000hp cars racing heads up. Also, people usually say the likes of the GTR’s and the new hot hatches with their computer controlled transmissions and high end tech is no fun to watch, but trust me, this was great entertainment. It will only go from strength to strength, and I do think sponsors should get in on the act, as this event has the potential to be off the charts, if done right.

Ultimately, to me, it was not just a day to see cars which you do not see every day, it was a day to celebrate the passion of like-minded peeps, the passion of petrolheads, the passion of Ivan Tolley. As is usual, the best part of the day was the old friends I got to catch up with, the new ones I met, the networking, the banter and the kakpraat. If there was no racing at the event, the people I spent the day with would still have made my trip worthwhile. Oh, and Jade.