I have been a car enthusiast for 70 years and I’m now 80. A friend of mine, Alan Williams, who has a motor repair shop in Margate, recently told me a remarkable story and this is the gist of it.
He and some friends wished to attend the Nine Hours of Kyalami in 1960. At the time, he was 12 years old. They decided to get to the track on the Friday afternoon, sneak through the fence, sleep in the veld near Witkoppen and observe the race from there. All went well until late on the Saturday morning when a typical Highveld thunderstorm developed.
By this time there were quite a number of people sitting on the koppie, in fairly close proximity to each other for the best view of the racetrack. A bolt of lightning struck the koppie and the person sitting next to Alan was incinerated; killed instantly. Alan was knocked unconscious and very badly burnt.
When he regained consciousness, he managed to stagger down the hill to get assistance for himself and the injured people. He stopped a car passing the base of the koppie to ask for assistance. The occupants laughed at him and drove off. Alan then managed to stop a second vehicle whose occupants realised the seriousness of the situation and called for help. He spent months in hospital requiring numerous skin grafts and operations on his legs. To this day, he still struggles to walk.
I might not have all the facts right, but it’s an amazing story.
PEDDY BAM Southbroom
[Not sure whether you’ve heard the good news, Peddy, but the Nine Hour is set to return to Kyalami in November 2019 – editor.]