Category Archives: 2011

2011 Wings and Wheels

Let me try and explain why this event was by far my most favourite one.

Witzenberg Motor Club Gymkhana series competitors was invited to come and entertain the visitors at the 2011 Ysterplaat Wings and Wheels Air show. No results, no official racing etc. just pure fun, this meant we would have to take members of the press, media and radio personalities around the gymkhana course. We heard rumours of the event early in the year and started saving the old tyres, the best idea to date. A few off us decided to take leave for the Friday as the event was over two days. Friday morning early arriving at Ysterplaat was more or less the same as any other Gymkhana race, besides the fact that we were treated as VIP members as we were issued with security passes etc. We quickly found a space and started prepping the vehicles, for the Friday we had the Golf, Fox and Datsun and quickly sorted them out, it was such a relaxed atmosphere that I even had time to play around with springs and a few other bits, hell I even decided to test “Datto’s” steering wheel on the Datsun, the steering wheel just fitted out with the buttons “Datto’ will need, more of this later. After we had walked and learned the track, I was off to the rally teams, as this was my opportunity to get back what I have been putting into their sport over the last 3 years doing radio communication for them. Today I was going to sit in the suicide seat of these vehicles, come hi or low.

During drivers briefing the rules was explained, safety first and take as much media around the track as possible. What, are your serious, take as much media around the track as possible, Yes was the answer, ok, let me get this correct, does this mean we have unlimited runs, Yes was the answer again. Well that thought took the rest of drivers briefing to completely sunk in. Honestly I can’t remember what was said after that. We waited a while until the official go ahead was given from the organizers and we started lining up. The route was on a cement slap and only one corner was on tar, having had the opportunity in the past to compete on a cement surface, I knew it could be tricky, thus I opted to go out with one of our regular navigators first to get a feel for it. At this point we basically finished our run and got in line again. This went on and on for the rest of the day, Mike unfortunately had to leave to attend a work function which left the Fox standing around for Selina to abuse for the rest of the day, and me. He just asked us to keep the car in one piece and look after the tyres.

We continued to torture the vehicle around the route, Jan had his first taste of the Datsun, Selina went around in it, while I laughed myself silly while navigating for them, Selina had the poor car jerking around the track, Jan was to slow turning the steering wheel, etc. All this while we enjoyed the aircraft in the air, adding a nice distraction from the norm. The Fox went so many times around the track that the front rubber was busy disappearing, well Mike said we should look after the tyres, so I swapped the fronts with the rears, this would show him that we care, at least now we can get the new rubber in the front showing the same wear as the rears, and off we went. Jan also took the Fox around and Selina kept the car busy, to the end of the day I navigated a round for Selina and I started noticing the rear braking away slightly, the thought popped into my mind that today will be the day I’ll enjoy a FWD car. A few seconds later Selina and I swopped seats and I was behind the wheel of this FWD car, seeing that the first few corners was relative slow speed, I could only feel the back moving slightly, once we entered the fast corners the fun started, as you turned the steering wheel to enter a corner, you immediately had to counter steer to keep the nose in the correct direction, pure fun. This is what happens if you provide a bunch of super competitive people to give something back, the end result, everyone has fun.

I completely forgot about the rally teams. damn I missed my opportunity. Not yet, we heard they will be going out again, all in the bakkie and into the convey taking as thru the planes to the special stage. Here we were told to stand in line as the press gets first honours, man was I annoyed, bloody press, they had there opportunity throughout the day. Well we sat around watching the action as one after the other the press was going around, just as i thought our change is coming, the Army Uncle shut us down as the rally cars was making too much dust. Luckily this was only temporary. That was it, the bloody press had there order viagra online fun, while I was seriously not happy, but being a grown up, well sometimes, I was plotting my revenge. If the dust settles and the army uncle allow the cars to continue I’ll get my suicide seat.

I thought to myself, I’m a pretty outspoken person, I do not care which celebrity press person is in line, he will have to add his eggs in a basket to weight them against my 150+ hours of doing radio communication for these people. Then the call came, you can open the stage, and all the cars was occupied, Ashley Haigh-Smith retuning from the stage, he properly saw that I was about to open my own press conference, stopped at the start and showed me to come. I had to pinch myself, here I was going to go a on a special stage with one of the countries hot young talent. All strapped up and ready to start, sitting there waiting for the count down, I had a sense of fear, but this is what these rally drivers do best, drive on gravel. Off we went in the React A6 Toyota Corolla, thru the gears approaching a decently sharp 90, I thought to myself, Ashley it is time to brake, a few meters further, ok it’s too late, maybe it’s time to call a tow truck, if we were on tarmac we would have been fine in my opinion, but this being gravel no way are we going to make it, he got on the brakes hard, a few shifts down, on the brakes again, getting the car ready for his desired line, while on the brakes he applied throttle and he got us thru, these gravel tires is something else. The rest of the stage I had to remind myself to look up as I was concentrating on his foot work. What an experience.

The day ended with the Datsun destroying 2 semi’s and another two half way dead. The Fox on the other hand had chewed its way thru 4 slicks, at least the damage was the same on all 4 as I made pretty sure about that, I was told to look after them. On our way back, I met Mike half way home, he quickly went home after his function to collect 4 fresh slicks for the next day after I told him the news. At this stage we didn’t really bother about the amount off tyres we were using, the amount off fun and the feeling you get when you give something back outweighs the money for rubber, we would safe rubber next year.

Saturday morning arrived, again we were at the venue quite early, way too early for competitors who’s cars are all in order and know the route. We decided to walk thru all the stands and hangers while Ruan had to learn the track. Once we got back the pits was packed, a big part of the Gymkhana troops was visible between rally car, drifters, hotrods etc. We knew that the amount off runs was going to be limited, not like yesterday’s 25+. In the back off my mind I was quite happy as now there was other people to entertain and I could focus on the Rally special stage. Again I went to the teams, and this time round I told them to notify me when they will be going as I need to experience these road going gravel machines again. We had a few runs on the Gymkhana track, I even navigated for one of the cars from the Franschoek Motor Museum, I think it was some sort of a MG, and as you would have expected from a British car, it died.

The call come, I rallied the troops from Race-Tech and we left in convoy for the Rally Stage. Manie Amlay agreed to me on the special stage, he just had to take 1 or 2 of the media chaps around, while we were waiting I arranged with him that when it is my change, that he will first take Selina around, this left her with no time to think about the terror on the way, she just had to strap herself in the seat. Once all strapped in, off they went, on their return we were greeted with smiles, what a relief she made it and loved it. Next in line it was my turn, but I told Mike he must be standing ready once we return. We sat off on the slightly changed route, now a little longer, once we reached the first 90 Left, it was very apparent that we were in a N3 machine, this Toyota RunX needed more time to brake, but again, the tyres had a shocking amount of grip on the gravel. On arrival Mike was ready for his run, on return I could tell he was impressed. I also managed to secure a run for Corne with Manie, on her return she was blushing from ear to ear.

We returned to the gymkhana action, and to our amazement, the queue was shorter and we managed a few final runs on the route. Manie even asked me to navigate for him in the rally car, we completed 2 runs and it was very apparent that these machines is built for gravel and not tight corners on tarmac.

We ended the day on a high. I would just like to thank everyone involved in making this

event a reality, it is indeed very nice to give something back to the community and then a special thanks to Ashley and Manie for providing us with the opportunity to experience a rally car on a special stage.

Picture Gallery: 2011 Wings and Wheels

Witzenberg Motor Club 2011 Awards Evening

The Witzenberg Motor Club annual awards took place at De Kelder Restaurant and Winery Vredekloof on Friday evening 2nd December 2011.

Ashley Haigh-Smith (in 2012 he’ll be competing in the WRC Academy with a M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta R2) and Jon Williams (Pirelli Star Driver Championship winner and currently competing in the South African Rally Championship in a M-Sport-built S2000 Ford Fiesta under the Sasol Racing colours) was the guest speakers at the function.

It was an astounding year for us as a team, we have grown from 2 friends looking for something to do with a Zetec powered MKII Ford Escort Sport and a rust bucket off a Datsun 1400 bakkie to a group of friends. We currently have 6 vehicles, 7 drivers and 8 navigators. Next year we will add another 3 vehicles and at least 2 new drivers and navigators. With this amount of passionate people, we will have between 15-20 entries per event, not to bad I think. Three years passed and we as a team are just growing from strength to strength, maybe in the next two years, we should ask the organisers to rebrand the championship to the Race-Tech Gymkhana Series. Won’t that be a problem, I think the team will then feel obligated to enter at least another entry per event. The poor vehicles.

It was a great year, I would just like to thank a few people:

Witzenberg Motor Club – without you and the people behind the scenes all our smiles and joy wouldn’t have been possible.

Selina Botes – without your constant support and forgiveness, this season would have been a distant memory, this was a particular tough year on us and our relationship, considering

the building of “Datto”.

Pieter Mathee (father) – without your help “Datto” would still be a dream.

Judy Mathee (mother) – two years of feeding me since “Datto” entered our lives, thanks.

Mike Mathee – thanks for offering “Lil Datto” to me to compete, all the effort and money you spend in getting the car ready for the season is appreciated.

Ruan Reynders – it was about time you return back to South Africa, at least we can now look back at all the misery we are causing for the rest of the car owners in the team because we entered that first gymkhana.

Race-Tech members – a special thanks must go out to you as a team, it is great that a bunch of friends can enjoy a single form of sport together as we do, we are probably the most disfunctional group of friends on the face of the world. Just imagine we are all together having a nice conversation about the season and a stranger want to join in, poor soul if he is not into motorsport. Some off the highlights for me during the season must be all the smiles, laughs and concentrating faces to keep that FWD vehicles in check. Mike sorry for trying to kill you at Flamingo’s, the moment the rear stepped out to the time I was on the brakes is a blur, luckily we made it and had the biggest smiles on our faces to date. We as a team can just go forward from this date. Let’s make next year even more memorable as this one, especially with new friends like Corne and Nico joining us as drivers and navigators. Maybe we should make “We are not being paid to drive, we are doing the paying, thus we should enjoy it” our slogan. Keep the smiles rolling.

Teams performance during the WBMK Gymkhana Championship 2011 season

Overall Drivers
Position Name Vehicle Class
11th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
12th Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
13th Jan van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
15th Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
29st Ruan Reynders Datsun 1200 F
33rd Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
53rd Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
64th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
66th Rudolf Marai Mazda 616 F
69th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
74th Ruan Reynders Ford Focus ST G
Overall Navigators
Position Name Vehicle Class
9th Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
11th Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
15th Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
16th Herman Mathee VW Golf 1.4i D
28th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
36th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
41st Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
55th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
62nd Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
69th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
70th Mike Mathee Mazda 616 F
77nd Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
84th Herman Mathee Ford Focus ST G
Class Drivers
Position Name Vehicle Class
1st Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
2nd Jan van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
3rd Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
6th Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
9th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
10th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
3rd Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
4th Ruan Reynders Datsun 1200 F
7th Pietie Erasmus Mazda F1000 F
12th Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
13th Rudolf Marais Mazda 616 F
6th Ruan Reynders Ford Focus ST G
Class Navigators
Position Name Vehicle Class
1st Herman Mathee VW Golf 1.4i D
2nd Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
3rd Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
6th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
7th Jan van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
9th Melissa van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
10th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
12th Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
13th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
3rd Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
4th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
7th Mike Mathee Mazda F100 F
11th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
15th Mike Mathee Mazda 616 F
17th Jan van der Vyver Mazda MX5 F
6th Herman Mathee Ford Focus ST G

Disasters @ 4th Mountain Mill Mall Worcester Gymkhana

This could be described as the one event to date since I started competing in the Witzenberg Gymkhana series as the one to forget. If it wasn't for the fact that at the time I was building “Datto” 30km from the venue, I would've even made it to the starting line with “Lil Datto”, but more of that later. Arriving at the venue, the top 3 in class F (Anton, Kobus and Myself) knew very good that this would be the event that decides the championship standing for the year, being the last event of the year to score championship points did not make it any easier. Between the 3 off us, only 2 points separated us, Anton on 47, Me and Kobus tied on 45, today we were going to enjoy some serious racing.

While getting “Lil Datto” ready for the day’s action, I noticed that the rear left shock was missing a top spring retainer, that was it for the day. In a moment of clarity I remembered about big brother “Datto” and immediately phoned my father that was on his way to borrow a few needed parts from “Datto”, just maybe I could make the parts work and enjoy the rest of the day trouble free, damn was I in for a surprise. Once my father arrived it didn't take long to make a plan and I make the parts work, just as I thought things are looking up, the next disaster struck, this was not my day. I was looking so forward to it, as Mike and I decided to challenge each other in the different class cars, this being a decision we forced ourselves in late at night in Vredendal, seeing that the rest of the team was all dead tired after the Vredendal event, they went to bed earlier, forcing as to enjoy the remainder of the ice. As I was

tightening the one wheel nut, I felt the inevitable, the stud lifted thread, I must say, I properly sat next to the wheel for what seemed like an eternity, this was end, I was not even going to get a change to challenge for the class championship. Soon my father and brother heard the news and we quickly found a solution, strip the parts and remove, this would enable us to install a replacement, well, at the time it was the best idea, we quickly realised that we weren't going to get it out. I had to learn the track and thought walk it once or twice to at least have a sense of direction when going around it in the Fox. Once I returned my father made a quick die with a spare wheel nut. Damn I was impressed, he must have been filling the bloody thing for 30min. We managed to get a nut on the stud. This enabled me to enter, what a relief, but in the back of my mind I was already broken with all the setbacks.

Herman Mathee and Selina Botes in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 21st Overall

Being a person that tries to avoid FWD vehicles as much as possible, driving the Fox for the first time around a gymkhana track only seemed like fun to end the season. As I went thru the first set of right handers I thought to myself, damn these FWD boys have it easy with this power steering and clever suspension setups, I was able to but the car on the desired line corner after corner, it felt as Selina and I was driving on a national road, until we entered a left hander and all off a sudden the bloody car’s rear started bouncing, it felt as if the car wanted to puke a few rear suspension parts out, being a fun entry and I did not know what to do, I did the normal RWD thing and just gave pedal and it seemed to work. We ended the round with not even a droplet off sweat forming, after the first rounds we were in first place in the class. Something we did not expect as I have never competed in a FWD car. On the next round Jan and Pietie started eating me for breakfast as I was just out having fun and tried to

drive the Fox like a RWD, it sure as hell is not the way to go about doing things, I must admit, it was fun to pilot the FWD machine, but I will never make a permanent swop. Personally it is too ease and not that involved like a RWD vehicle, it is just so much more fun in a RWD vehicle, we aren't getting paid to drive, we need to have fun and that is what the RWD provides. Selina and I managed to end the day 3rd in Class D.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 3rd in Class D and 23rd Overall

This is actually quite a blur in my mind, seems that for the above reasons I want to forget about the activities in “Lil Datto”. We managed to complete the day without any more drama and luckily the wheels stuck to the car. We did have a huge communication issue on the 3rd and final round for the season, we exited a set of corners and Mike forgot to give the next call, I corrected the mistake and a a few corners the same happened and I decided to stop the round as I was just messing up. We ended 3rd in the class.

Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 6th in Class D and 43rd Overall

Selina came a long way this year, considering this whole Gymkhana thing is new to her. Luckily for me as her navigator she does not try to do the impossible, but rather taking the learning curve event by event.

Jan and Melissa vd Vyver in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 16th Overall

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 18th Overall

Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 4th in Class D and 22nd Overall

Mike Mathee and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 6th in Class F and 33rd Overall

Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 7th in Class F and 35th Overall

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 9th in Class F and 41st Overall

Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class G Ford Focus ST – 6th in Class G and 54th Overall

More Photos 4th Mountain Mill Mall Worcester Gymkhana