TG Newsletter: ZWARTKOPS TRACK DAY
Zwartkops Raceway Track Day
(11 July 2021)
You end where you start… the philosophy of a racetrack. And maybe so too the meaning of friendship?
I met Nienke (the Hollander) for the first time at the Zwartkops track back in 2009. We were training to compete in the regional 600cc class the next year.
She’s been living and learning about real life here in South Africa for the past 15 years.
But today, I am mislik and not in the Dutch way. South Africa has yet again taken something from us. Our friend is leaving to go back to her sunken world of klompe and windmills.
It would thus be fitting to end her 15 years stay in South Africa at the same track where we had our first Zamalek together.
Peter du Toit is the father of Zwartkops raceway, and he has a long and intense history with racing in South Africa.
“We must always have a purpose in life for with purpose passion is born.”
He attended his first street race when he was 4 years old (1948), and his purpose was found. He wanted to race cars. Through hard years, little money and a lack of trust in his own abilities, he persevered and returned to racing in 1983. The passion was never lost!
Even then, racing was an arrogant sport meant to discourage racers and alienate spectators. His frustration fueled his ‘purpose’ - to provide a facility which is different and better. No apex was left unturned, and with lots of homework and groundwork, Peter opened the ‘Half the size twice the fun’ Zwartkops track again in 2001.
I have spent many a Wednesday on Zwartkops chiseling my skills, my times… and my liver.
But I haven’t been on this track for 10 long years!
We arrived at the track early to secure a pit. Having the C-griep still around, we weren’t too sure how busy the track would be. We were some of the first riders there and even with the crisp winter breeze, everybody was excited, laughing, and damn happy to get out of house-quarantine.
There were all the old familiar faces and they even remember me, with André welcoming me back at the gate as if I was a long-lost sister. Oom Schultz came to show me his well-worn black flag!
They however frowned when I entered class C, but I assured them that I needed to check if I could still remember which way the corners turn before I switched on the heat under my seat.
We rented two Honda CBR600’s from Jason at MotoRentals
Nienke was green with jealousy. Jason arrived at the track with the bikes prepped, filled and ready to roll. He does all the hard work, from setting up the pit, to tyre-warmers, parking the bike after each session and keeping an eye on all the juices throughout the day. I guess you can call him the pit-butler?
It’s amazing how your suit fits like a second skin.
It’s amazing how much a second skin can shrink if it hangs in the closet for three years…
Social distancing was adhered to, until the wheels started rolling. On the track, every gap was an opportunity to rub shoulders.
“A good friend will help you move. But a best friend will help you move a dead body.”
…or she’ll point, comment, and give directions on how to lift a heavy object, while sipping on her beer. But she won’t judge!
If you have lapped around Zwartkops a million times, you cannot erase the memory of the lines from your mind that has been burned into your hardware.
I could remember each brake marker, the apexes, where to look, when to open taps. I was dancing a langarm like I was Arthur Murray.
“It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”
NEVER!!! The Nederlander’s phone only takes calls from 10am. Any earlier would result in me broadening my knowledge of Dutch swear words.
Rick-The-Racer was there with his daughter. Best advice I ever received on the track was from him: “MORE GAS!”
In between sessions I was still trying to ‘last minute’ teach Nienke about the different bread combinations we have here in South Africa: Toebroodjies, Roosterbrood, French toast, Snackwiches, Toasted Sandwiches, Jafels, Roosterkoek, Potbrood…
“True friends don’t judge each other; they judge other people together.”
…while downing a third bottle of champagne.
Even though she was reluctant, I tried to convince Chikita to move up a class from D to C. What helped was when Oom Schultz ordered her to class-UP. Finally, I had a playmate!
“Friendship is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warm feeling inside.”
Or when you jumped into her bed early morning to wake her up, and only then realized she sleeps naked!!! I’ve never jumped out of a bed THAT quickly.
I was showing Chikita a few tips on the track when se disappeared… Flippen hell – where did she go??? But true to her wonderous talent, she just hooked onto my outside and I couldn’t shake her. Fear is few in this one!
To ride around in circles for hours might sound a bit like a hamster spinning inside a little wheel, but you only need one session to get hooked. With every lap you believe you can go faster, brake later, or accelerate harder. It’s an obsession and can quickly turn into an addiction.
“Friends don’t let friends do stupid things. Alone.”
“You are going to take two 70cc bikes and do what with them?!?” Nienke immediately signed up for this epic Le Petite Puzey adventure, making herself available as the back-up driver.
(In 2018 we took two pit bikes and rode them all the way from Cape Town to Johannesburg)
Being the last time we would be sharing a tar loop, Nienke demanded I too class-up and join her in the B-class.
My big girl panties were adjusted, my brake markers shortened.
“Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can’t pick us up, they lie down and listen for a while.”
Except if they are lying in corner 4 at Zwartkops, then you just point and giggle.
“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”
It didn’t take us that long. But then again… we’re not THAT old!
“A stranger stabs you in the front. A friend stabs you in the back. A boyfriend stabs you in the heart. Best friends poke each other with straws.”
…or at least just use a blunt knife.
Her last lap, on her favourite track, on her beloved green R6 <3
All her friends grouped into the same class to ride with her for one last session.
My liewe Nienke,
Dankie vir jare se vriendskap en dat ons altyd in mekaar se ore kon kerm oor ander mense. Dankie vir al die raad, al het dit nie altyd gewerk nie, maar dan het ek gewoonlik self ook nie antwoorde gehad nie. Dankie dat jy my altyd op die track laat wen het; ek weet dit was aspris. Dankie dat jy gekies het om my maatjie te wees, en nie my X s’n nie. Dankie dat ek mooi kon leer wat die akoestiek in jou badkamer was. Dankie vir die beste pasta resep ooit, maar ek sukkel nogsteeds om parnel nuts te kry. Dankie dat jy my geleer noot hou het met ‘Lekker Verjaar’. Dankie vir elke glasie Brut wat ons kon deel. Dankie dat ek my beste endo ooit op jou bike kon doen. Dankie dat ons mekaar nooit vermoor het by enige van die 24hr resiese nie – dit was soms close! Dankie dat jy my geleer het dis okay om myself te wees, al was ek maar soms mislik.
Gaan ver, maar moenie ver gaan nie!
You should send me money so I can buy a plane ticket to fly to Nederland and go kick Kaaskop butt on her own turf.
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