Racing on the edge
My 2016 racing season was a journey of extreme highs and extreme lows. With the backing of Nashua for the second year, I began my first racing season in the top -flight tin-top category in South Africa, the Engen Volkswagen Cup.
Round One saw a three-heat race format at the Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria, which came as a serious wake-up call for me when I suffered a massive shunt on the first lap of the first race. This hampered my following races due to the damaged car and overheating issues.
The Cape Town’s Killarney International Race track hosted round two of the championship and saw my Nashua Polo, after another day of bumping and barging, finishing an amazing fourth in the Junior category in only my second official race.
The third round of the championship was technically my home round, taking place just over 100km from my Grahamstown res room – in Port Elizabeth at Aldo Scribante.
My car was incredibly fast during qualifying, putting me in the top five for all three races.
Unfortunately due to my own errors and a little help from other drivers, I was unable to challenge for the top places.
Round four was at the historic East London Grand Prix Circuit, where our Polos reached speeds of over 220km/h, which is seriously scary in what is essentially a road car.
The races proved to be a challenge, but after two longfought battles, I was able to finish inside the top 10.
The fifth and sixth round followed the same pattern of big bumper cars, with a ninth in Pretoria and a sixth place in Cape Town.
The Polo Cup category was one of the first to race on the newly redone Kyalami Grand Prix circuit.
The seventh race of the year was the most difficult weekend of my racing career, plagued by mechanical and political issues. I didn't complete practice or qualifying rounds for the races and the car was completed only minutes before the race start.
I started 19th on the grid but I was able to fight my way through the field in the 10 laps of carnage to finish a strong ninth with a smile on my face, after a tense, challenging weekend.
After the events of the Kyalami round, we decided to move away from Polos back into a single seater, with the Investchem Formula 1600s, the fastest National racing cars in Africa.
The race at Zwartkops saw me finishing third on a rainbeaten track, with next to no practice in the new car.
This result is a huge confidence boost after previous weeks and I hope to continue this form in the new car during the 2017 season if I am able to find a sponsor for the year.
To a good year of racing on the edge!
Brad Beningfield in action in the single seater race.
Brad Beningfield celebrates a good race.