Once again the quiet little fishing village of Saldanha was, for one weekend only, transformed into a drag racers paradise. For over 11 years West Coast Racing have been hosting the Saldanha Drags 800m Top-end racing event on its usually quiet shores. This year was no different.
As the gates opened on Friday evening, with the sun slowly setting in the background there was already a queue of drag racing enthusiasts camped out since the night before. It was clear that this was going to be a jam-packed instalment of Saldanha Drags powered by Monster Energy.
As folks settled down to ready themselves for the top end assault on Saturday local drag racers were registering for the Friday Evening ‘Outlaw Styles Drags’ which was introduced a few events back. The Friday night racing has steadily been growing in popularity and gives local racers a chance to get an idea of what racing on an airport runway is like.
It’s is also a perfect time for the top end racers to give their cars a shakedown, and tweak their machines for the 800m attack the following day. Some patrons chose to party the night away in the tented area while others chose to get some rest and ready themselves for the main event.
Saturday morning started off with the customary drivers briefing.
The highlight of the morning was undoubtedly the bringing back of the parade lap which was cancelled during the last instalment of Saldanha Drags. You can see the video of the parade lap here.
All the drivers lined up on the start line, revving their engines getting the crowd properly pumped. It is with the parade lap that one can really appreciate the sheer variety of cars that come and participate. Cars like the legendary Mk1 golf all the way through to highly modified Nissan GTR’s grace the field and race side by side while chasing the highest speeds possible. On the return run, the entertainment really heats up as drivers give each other room for some epic burnouts. Clouds of tire smoke filled the atmosphere and engine noises are drowned out by the roar of the enthusiastic crowd.
The races started off with a bang as Garion Slamet from Team SRD took the very first run of the day and immediately went on to record a blistering speed of 309km/h. on his Suzuki Hayabusa. It did not take long for Jaleel Firfirey to match Garion’s speed on his Kawasaki H2. These two were in all out battle for the entire day. Eventually, both riders managed a top speed of 309.6 Km/h sharing the podium for fastest riders of the day at Saldanha Drags.
Throughout the day racers lined up pushing the limits of the vehicles in the searing heat, all the while fighting against the customary insane head wind that plagues Saldanha Drags. The drivers and riders from the Western Cape once again showed why local drag racing is so popular. First timers and veterans of Saldanha drags came out to enjoy the day with their families and race their purpose built and daily running cars down the 800m strip.
No stranger to the fray is Shaheen Barmania who built and owns the insane twin turbo Chevrolet Lumina commonly known as SuspectWP.
This time around he left the driving to local legend Ralph Kumbier, who managed to take the twin turbo beast up to a speed of 293.3Km/h which is an all-time best for the Lumina.
Then there was the Storm from the North who once again descended on Saldanha with an army of high-end luxury cars, highly modified production cars and supercars.
The one to look out for was Graeme Steyn, piloting the AMS Alpha 12 Nissan GTR.
After shaking the car down, Steyn pulled out all the stops and completely obliterated the competition with a final run of 319.5Km/h, effectively gaining the King of Saldanha Drags 2016 Title.
As the sun slowly fell off the edge of the horizon the drivers all lined up for prize giving. Prize giving was held right on the race track. Drivers, riders and pit crew sat and stood on their own tire remnants on a runway, where just moments ago they had been racing on. They received the trophies and were given thanks for attending. This closed off an incredible day of racing and camaraderie and also closed the curtain on Saldanha Drags 2016.
We look forward to seeing you all next year.
Click the link below for the final results.
NB: Results were captured by the timing specialists Truvello. Should there be any discrepancies please let us know and we will raise the concern with them.
Also keep an eye on our facebook page for media we will be sharing from the various media houses. You can find that here