Racing legend is Grand Marshal
South Africa has produced a long list of legendary racing and rally drivers over the years, but few have been as successful and influential in both the motor sport arena and the local motor industry as Arnold Chatz. “With a proud legacy spanning nearly six decades in the automotive business and motor sport fraternity, it is indeed an honour and privilege to announce that Arnold Chatz will be fulfilling the ceremonial role of Grand Marshal for the 2018 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb,” says Ian Shrosbree, managing director of the Knysna Festival, which organises the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb (JSHC).
“As a kid I remember following his career behind the wheel and being amazed at his success ratio. There was another link in that my father was also a Nissan and Alfa dealer, so I always rooted for him on the track,” adds Shrosbee.
A true gentleman, consummate professional and inspiration to many, Chatz is delighted with the appointment, which will see him flagging off the first competitors for Classic Car Friday, and handing the winner the Classic Conqueror trophy. He will be trackside again for King of the Hill on Saturday and Sunday, and proudly presenting certificates of achievement to competitors who have competed in five, and all nine Hillclimbs, as well as the Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill Spirit of Dave Charlton awards.
“I consider my appointment as a compliment and a pleasure, as I am aware of the recognition that the JSHC enjoys as a highly respected motor sport event,” Chatz says. “I have been privileged in the past to serve as the appointed Motorsport SA steward in national and international events after my retirement as a driver. I served as the Steward of the last two Formula 1 events held at Kyalami, and at all the International A1 GP events which were held in Durban. Being appointed as the Grand Marshal of this event is even more of a privilege, as it has been conveyed to me that my duties are far less officious and stressful than those who are tasked with the difficult job of running and administering this prestigious event.”
A self-confessed car nut, Chatz began his career in the motor trade in 1959 after obtaining a Borgward franchise, followed by Datsun in 1961. His business rapidly expanded with the addition of Alfa Romeo the same year, quickly becoming one of the brand’s largest and most successful dealerships in the country. Although now enjoying his retirement, this heritage continues today with the successful dealership that carries his name in Johannesburg.
Chatz’s racing exploits were equally noteworthy, having competed in and winning his class in his first race in 1962 behind the wheel of a Ford Anglia belonging to his friend and another SA racing legend, Basil van Rooyen.
The following year he raced a Renault Gordini 1093, claiming no less than 17 out of 19 race wins, and took second place in both the Modified Saloon Car and Standard Production Car championships. In 1964, Chatz cemented his enduring reputation by finishing fourth overall in the International 9-hour endurance race at Kyalami in a Renault 8 1100 - in the process crossing the line as the first South African driver, and finishing ahead of some of the fastest European sports cars of the time.
Chatz has a strong affinity with Hillclimb events too, after establishing an outright record for saloon cars at the famous Krugersdorp Hillclimb in the Renault R8.
He later switched to racing Volvos and then enjoyed a long association with Alfa Romeo as a factory driver, competing against some of the biggest names in the sport, including Jody Scheckter, Basil Van Rooyen, Geoff Mortimer, Peter Gough, Sarel van der Merwe and Serge Damseaux. He built up an exceptional record of race wins and titles, including the Saloon Car Championships in 1972, 1975, 1979 and 1980.
For more information on the event and online ticket sales, visit www.jaguarsimolahillclimb. com - Supplied
The Wingels/Chatz Volvo corners in characteristic fashion.
Chatz enjoyed a long association with Alfa Romeo as a factory driver.