Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top Gear Festival 2011

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Im a week late in posting this but as they say "better late than never" right? I flew up to Joburg to see the 3 morons that get paid to do what every boy or grown man dream of doing, no not staring at hot girls the next best thing, man handling supercars around a race track or road. Its hard to believe what they actually do constitutes as a "job" for them, they dream up the most insane idea's for the show such as road trips across various continents with the most outlandish supercars or at times they race other modes of transport like trains, planes and boats. The 3 were down to present to us petrol head South Africans the greatest show they've ever done which is Top Gear Festival 2011. The show was held at the world famous Kyalami race track outside Joburg and they used the entire facility! So you know there was a shit load of walking to do!
Thunder Dome
After walking half the race track in sweltering heat, almost dying of heat stroke we eventually made it to the entrance of the 'Thunder Dome'. An area inside the track which was piratically an outdoor arena but of course Thunder Dome made it sound a lot cooler. It was here where we got to see the BBC's finest export since Mr Bean. The show itself I must say disappointed me a bit with it being too short, obviously I didnt expect them to re-create the ridiculous stuff they did on their TV show there but maybe an extra 20 minutes would have been nice. They spoke about their upcoming series 16 which already aired on British TV's and which we'll only see in 10 years time, they also show cased the cars they used. Jeremy opting for the Merc SLS AMG, Richard the 911 GT3 RS and Captain Slow the Ferrari 458 Italia. Each of them drove into the arena with their respective cars and in true Top Gear fashion promptly did hand brake turns to park them.

Jeremy, Richard & James
Seeing them was abit surreal but funny enough I wasnt star struck, I suppose its the way they make the show as if you were them, one of the guys so when you actually see them its like a long lost friend ... one that you cant just go up and speak to. The show was presented by none other than SA's F1 guru, Sasha Martinengo who at the end was one of the main highlights of the show with him bungee jumping in a car from a tower crane. Brave is not the word to use for him since he completed the act 10 times over the weekend.

Sasha Martinengo in car bungee
We were allowed a back stage tour once the show was complete and it was fun to see how things went down in the back ground and to learn of what they actually go through setting up an event like this and of course getting up, close and personal to the toys was quite nice as well.

Ferrari 458 Italia
The ticket being priced at R365 was a bit steep but I wasnt sure what to expect, it entitled me to an entire day experience at the track, from see the Ferrari owners club race their prized possessions around the track to Sabine Schmitz racing David Coulthard in the RB6! Even all the Shecktors were present to give us a blast from the past in the old F1 cars.

RB6 F1 Car
It truly was worth every cent if you're a petrol head like myself. The pit garages were stocked up with guys either presenting their product to the main importers of Ferrari & Maserati. Even the Franshoek Motor Museum had most of their cars on display, including the likes of the Enzo, F40 & original Bugatti Formula One car which was the first ever to win a race in Monaco.

Ferrari Enzo
The were stalls a plenty for you to buy Top Gear branded merchandise but the quality was terrible as I found out after purchasing a T-Shirt for R250, but I suppose its part of the fun? What wasnt very fun at all was the massive cloud burst that forced many undercover for a good few hours. The rain was relentless as I had to take cover in one of the tents show casing some motor manufacturers. Worked out well for me as I made good friends with the guys from Lexus Midrand who let me sit inside and play around with the Lexus ISF.

SL65 AMG Black Series
After waiting 3 hours for the rain to subside, which it didnt, one just had to brave it and luckily I did as I bumped into a good mate from twitter Dirk Vale. He was there with his mom, the famous Wesbank V8 race driver Clare Vale along with their transporter and goodies, being the Porsche 914 and a car built and designed by Bailey Cars for the LMP2 race at next years Le Mans.

Perana Z One
The bottom end of the pits was where the "Stigs garage" was, here you could find many beauties from the likes of RGM Motorsports M3 conversion to South Africa's very own supercar, the Perana Z! The Perana Z one as its known is the brain child of Jimmy Price of Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The design of the car which is rather eye catching was done by the world famous Zagato designs in Milan but the car is manufactured 100% in High Tech's factory in South Africa.

Red Bull Racing Pit Garage
To end off, like I said earlier, the show was worth it if you love you cars and racing. If you just went to see the 3 of them, there is no doubt you left disappointed. If there is another one next year, I wouldnt mind making the trip again.

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