Words not enough for legend Hettema
THE many obituaries to murdered motorsport legend Jan Hettema fall far short of describing the man who taught me how little I can race.
But enough has been written about the man who made the Total Economy Run, the World Rally Championship racer and the Olympic cyclist not to repeat it here.
What was not added is that Hettema was also a shoe model in his heyday; or how the dashing young man never confirmed or denied rumours of a fling with a certain young princess in Monaco when he raced there; or the ding-dong battles the old bull had with the then up-and-coming Sarel van der Merwe.
A clueless young car writer, I used to meet up with the gnarly old legend at the plot between Pretoria and Rayton, for him to give expert comment on the handling on whatever new bakkie I had.
I recalled when the Navara bakkie just came out how he calmly drifted the big vehicle through farm gates with one hand while with the other pointing out to me how well Nissan had done to overcome the limits of a torsion bar and leaf springs.
When I left, he would press on me some fresh eggs, from which farm fresh produce he and his retired teacher wife Elsa made their living then.
What impressed me most about Hettema was not his sporting achievements, but how patient he was with his hens, which as any chicken farmer can tell you is not a normal reaction to the often pesky demands made by this domesticated descendant of the Tyrannesaurus Rex.
Hettema was a spry 83 when he was shot in cold blood by two robbers who made off with a few bits of electronic goods. Our empathy goes to his wife, Elsa, and their daughter Helena, a star in her own right, as well as his staff at the plot.
We can sing the old Country and Western hit On The Road Again with them, as we did at many an economy run, for wherever Jan is now, I am sure the road is just a blur of joyful speed going past.