East London Grand Prix Circuit

Contact Details

Description

The East London Grand Prix Circuit is a motor racing track in East London, Eastern Cape. First known as Marine Drive Circuit and later renamed to Prince George Circuit, the East London Grand Prix Circuit is home to the Border Motorsport Club and has a long history of motor racing in South Africa.

The circuit is home of the South African Grand Prix and the Motorcycle South African Tourist Trophy. It is a high speed "long circuit" that currently hosts Regional, National, and Invitational International Motor and Motorcycle Road Racing in all categories. Go-Kart, Super Moto, Drifting, and Drag racing are all held within the complex, making it an extremely valuable motorsport venue.

HISTORY

In the early 1930s, interest in motor racing was ignited when motoring editor of The Daily Dispatch newspaper, Brud Bishop, had the idea to hold a race on a newly constructed circular road on the West Bank of East London. Although it was proposed as a local event, the support was so widespread that it developed into a national event. And when entries from abroad poured in, the event gained international status and became known as The South African Grand Prix.

On 27 December 1934, the South African Grand Prix motor car road race was run over the magnificent Marine Drive Circuit, with 18 drivers from South Africa, America, and Great Britain battling out 6 laps of the 24.46km course.

The race was won by Whitney Straight, an American millionaire sportsman. Second and third places were taken by JH Case, a popular entrant from Queenstown, and Michael Straight, brother of Whitney Straight. Whitney set a World Record when he steered in to victory at an average speed of 153km/hour. During the race he recorded a fastest speed of 244 km/hour; the fastest he had ever done in his Maserati.

The annual South African Grand Prix continued from 1936 through to 1939, after Potters Pass was introduced to avoid racing through the township of West Bank. The new route shortened the track to 17.7km and it was renamed the Prince George Circuit.

Interest in motor racing was kept alive after the war by racing on the Esplanade at East London, as the old circuit had been affected by the introduction of the new airport. In 1959, the new East London Grand Prix Circuit was opened. The new 3.86km circuit cut through the old shooting range and incorporated sections of the old pre-war track, but was set in a natural amphitheatre in a park beside the ocean. Seven South African Grand Prix races took place on this track between 1960 and 1966.

Map

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Nearby Attractions

Steve Biko Bridge 3 km away - East London
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East London Airport 4 km away - Eastern Cape
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Port Of East London 5 km away - East London
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