Kings of high octane
In June 2017 deadly fires caused havoc in the coastal holiday town of Knysna, destroying properties and resulting in immense loss. Many were left doubting whether the annual speed festival, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb 2018, would take place. But, thanks to the organising team, this year’s installation was bigger, louder and much more daring –a triumph for a town that, just 11 months earlier, was almost declared a disaster area
A record-breaking 17 000 motoring fans descended on Simola for the three-day festival which celebrates all things automobile. While speed is at the core of this event, with the King of the Hill being the ultimate title at its end, it’s also a spectacular showcase of all classes of vehicles that dare to take on the 1,9km steep road set on one of the most scenic locations in the country.
During the festival weekend, the peace was shattered by the roaring of engines ranging from Formula 1 cars to muscle cars, restored oldies and everything else, all the way to classic automobiles. This year there was even an appearance by an electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, also seeking to conquer the hill and show off its “racing” stripes.
The competition kicked off on the Friday, with an impressive fleet of 64 classic vehicles cruising through the town in a parade before taking on the bends of the hill-climb at varying speeds. Among them were some special cars with an outstanding history. One was a 1972 E-type that was once owned by Czech royalty and had travelled from the USA to Switzerland before finding its way to SA.
The rest of the weekend belonged to loud automobiles of varying sizes as they raced up the hill to make best times in their respective classes, much to the glee of fans. From the onset, the ear-splitting Nissan GT-Rs were firm favourites, creating rapture among the crowds.
As the high-octane weekend drew to a close and scores were tallied, it was clear that the coveted
King of the Hill titles for both road-going saloon cars and supers, and modified saloon cars, would be returning to Rosslyn in Pretoria, the home of Nissan, thanks to the talented drivers who’d enthralled spectators with their skills.
When the incredibly powerful engines were finally silenced, international stuntman Terry Grant performed dare-devil stunts that had all reaching for their phones to capture them. The audience was particularly astonished when he took on the racecourse in a Jaguar F-Pace driving on only two wheels. On his second spectacular two-wheel drive, Grant even had a passenger taking videos inside the vehicle.
If the rapture of the crowds at this year’s Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is anything to go by, next year’s race – which will also be the event’s 10th anniversary – will be something to behold, just like the scenic town hosting it.