Tag Archives: racing

Why do people love horse-racing?

Why do people love horse racing?
I was never sure why people loved horse-racing so. I wondered if it was that people just love horses, or perhaps that it was the thrill of placing money with a bookie and the possibility of winning, or maybe even the intricate factors gamblers consider when choosing a horse.

While these are all true, after our time at the J&B Met I've come to believe that the overriding excitement in horse racing is the tension that is built while the horses are on the field. As a dozen horses charge down the field there's nothing quite like hearing the faint sound of 48 hooves crescendo into what sounds like a thousand drums. It's truly an amazing sound!

Celebrities and beautiful people of the 2011 J&B Met

Miss South Africa - Bokang Montjane

While most visitors to the J&B Met found themselves on the outside of the racing track, we got to hob-nob with celebrities, socialites, and wealthy business people in the J&B Hospitality Marquee on the inside of the track. As you perhaps can tell, we're not socialites, celebrities, or wealthy business people so it took a while for us to become accustomed to being waited on hand-and-foot. But, once we settled into it, it came as naturally as scooping water from a fresh mountain stream.

What I found surprising, and awesome, about our time with the prominent people in society was that they were far less pretentious than I'd imagined they would be. Folk were friendly, everyone had huge amounts of fun, and we didn't once feel out of place. In fact, we felt quite comfortable sliding into celebrity life - even if only for a single day. :)

One thing that I haven't mentioned is that while it's obvious that the lady in the photo is Bokang Montjane, Miss South Africa, I have to be honest and say that I have no clue who most of the other celebrities and well-known people that I may or may not have photographed are. So, this is where I'd love some help from you! If you have a little while, please visit our photo album and leave a comment below photos if you recognise the person in the pic.

Racing at the 2011 J&B Met

The 2011 J&B Met

Even though J&B have been sponsoring the J&B Met for only 34 years, as mentioned in a previous post the event's history goes back to the 1800s, when the Cape was still under British rule. Each year sees dozens of horse racing events taking place at tracks like Kenilworth, Royal Ascot and Durbanville, but this, the J&B Met, is the premier of all races - the crème de la crème!

Despite being aware of horse racing for many years, I've never really known how betting takes place, and I've never really understood the different types of betting. Included with our ticket for the day was a small betting voucher and a guide that explained the three most popular bet types:

  1. Win : I guess this one is obvious; you place an amount of money (at least R6) on a particular horse to win the race.
  2. Place : You place money on a bet that a particular horse will finish in the first three places (or four if there are more than 7 horses in the race).
  3. Swinger: Your fate rests on two horses both ending in the first three places.

Unfortunately for us, we didn't win any money this time around. But after the main race at 16h30 there seemed to be several very happy faces in our vicinity, which I took to mean that a lucky (or clever) few actually did win some money. :)

Click here to see an album with a few more photos of the horses and the track. And check back during the week - we'll be posting another album or two with photos of the celebrities, the food, and the stylish outfits we spotted in the J&B hospitality marquee.

Almost F1-racing at Killarney – you can do it too!

Reynard single-seater racing at Killarney

In my previous article I spoke about my outing to the Killarney racing circuit, arranged by Cape Town Tourism and Fantastic Racing. The plan was to show me (and you) what fun can be had taking a few laps in these Reynard racing cars. (See a few more photos from the day in our album over here).

We were given overalls, boots and gloves similar to the ones that you may have seen Formula1 drivers parading around in, and then we sat down while one of the instructors explained everything that we needed to know about driving one of these beasts.

After the briefing, we all jumped on the back of a bakkie (a small utility vehicle) that took us on a slow ride around the circuit. As we drove, the instructor explained where we should drive and what we should be cautious about - like braking before entering a corner, and staying off the grass. :)

On our return to the garage we grabbed our helmets and headed off to the Reynards. Getting into the car was a little tricky (it's a fairly tight fit) but once in I felt pretty snug, and with the 5-point harness, pretty well secured. I quickly tested all the controls to make sure that everything was within reach, fired up the engine, and waited for the marshals to indicate that it was my turn to pull the car forward.

Getting going was pretty easy - the speed-machine worked much like any other manual car, except that the gearbox was sequential. This means that you keep pulling backwards on the stick to go from first to second, through to sixth gear and then push forward to go from sixth to fifth, through to first - easy-peasy.

The instructor took the lead around the circuit, with everyone following in single-file. I have to say that it was pretty easy and within two laps I felt fully in control, gunning it as fast as the car could go down the straights, but being just a little cautious on the bends. ;) After about 6 laps the chequered flag came out and I finished the final lap as fast as I possibly could. :)

We had a little break with some refreshments and a little more instruction from our teacher and then headed off for our second set. This time was even better since I felt in control right from the start and the tips given in the break helped me to know better where to drive and how to get the most out of the Reynard.

All in all, it was fantastically awesome and I find myself fighting a motor-racing addition. :) The cost ranges from R2,500 to about R4,400, depending on the package you choose, and if you have a need for speed, it's definitely something to add to your to-do list!

Thanks to Bianca, Julie, and the rest of the Fantastic Racing team for the rocking morning. If you'd like to enquire about learning to race one of these cars, check out the contact details on this page, and if you'd like a map to Killarney, see the Google Map with the route that I've plotted from the N1 right to Fantastic Racing's doorstep.

Reynard single-seater racing at Killarney

Reynard single-seater racing cars
Who would refuse an invitation from the guys at Cape Town Tourism to experience a little more of what Cape Town has to offer? Who would refuse an invitation to visit Fantastic Racing (at the Killarney race track) to race around the circuit at up to 240km/h? Certainly not me. :)

From the photo you'll notice two things: 1) My name is on the coolest of the six racing cars, and 2) these ain't no go-karts! The machines are fitted with 3.5-litre Dodge V6 engines that produce around 450BHP/t (brake horsepower per tonne) or 335KW.

Just before these numbers bore you, let me explain the significance. The Reynard single-seater racing car produces marginally less power than a new Porsche 911 Turbo, which generates around 460BHP/t (350KW). What makes the acceleration on this beast even more awesome is that it weighs a fraction of what a Porsche does and sits really (really) low on the ground.

The cars are exceptionally easy to drive and the gear shifts are actually easier than a normal car. As far as acceleration is concerned, when you squeeze the pedal to the floor the grunt of raw power is all you hear as your helmet is forced back into the seat behind you. The only thing that makes driving the Reynard not quite a walk in the park is the lack of power steering - so you have to be prepared to whip up some elbow-grease and teach the racer who's boss. I'll post a little more info in my next article, but for now, visit Fantastic Racing's website for more info.