The other thing I like about the old track is that unlike the fastest European circuits like Monza and Spa, Kyalami was not a killer circuit. In the 26 years it was a permanent racing facility across all races there were just six fatalities, which many seem a lot today, but back then for a place like this, it was a near miraculous safety record. Yes, Peter Revson died there testing a Shadow in 1974, but while the circuit’s unforgiving scenery undoubtedly sealed his fate, it was suspension failure that caused the crash. And Tom Pryce was killed by a teenager running across the track, for which the circuit design can hardly be blamed.
Anyway, after its false dawn in the early 1990s, the track fell into a state of disrepair until it was bought by the local Porsche importer Toby Venter in 2014, and by the time he was finished he’d spent 450 million Rand and completely rebuilt the circuit from top to bottom, widening, reprofiling and extending the track, knocking down over 40 buildings and creating many more in their place.
I visited in 2016 and could barely believe what I saw. A world class circuit by any measure, one that was once more a massive challenge but also hugely fun to drive. It wasn’t as nuts as the original Kyalami because no circuit like that would stand a chance of being licensed today, but Venter’s decision not to have acres of tarmac run-off before you reached a modern tecpro barrier, but a short trip across the grass to a wall of belted tyres fitted absolutely his vision of a circuit where mistakes still have consequences.