Formula 1 is a global sport. The Championship draws over 500 million viewers from all corners of the world. During the course of the year races are held in Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and, starting again this year, North America. Africa, however, does not make an appearance. This needs to change. The time is ripe for F1 to return to the continent and a South African Grand Prix is the way to do it.South Africa has a proud motor sport heritage. The first South African Grand Prix was held in 1934 in the town of East London on the Prince George Circuit. Racing in South Africa was brought to a halt by the start of World War II. The race was brought back to life as part of the F1 World Championship in 1960 and moved to the Kyalami race track in 1962. In two decades Kyalami saw some famous winners including Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell and South African Jody Scheckter. Racing was stopped again in 1985 due to the Apartheid regime and the boycotting of the Grand Prix by a number of teams. After the fall of Apartheid the race resumed for a brief 2 races in 1992 and 1993. Since then the sounds of an F1 race have not been heard in Africa.
Recently there have been some rumblings about F1 making a return to South Africa. Since the successful hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Bernie Ecclestone has dropped a few hints that he would like to see a South African Grand Prix on the calendar. Here in South Africa there are a number of possibilities being explored. One of the most promising and exciting ideas is to host a Monaco or Singapore style street race through the city of Cape Town. The company behind this plan is called Cape Town Grand Prix SA and they hope to see a race in Cape Town by 2014. The proposed track will see the cars screaming along the Atlantic coast, weaving through the famous V&A Waterfront and even cutting through the iconic Cape Town Stadium, something never done before in Formula 1. All this under the shadow of Table Mountain, one of the new 7 Wonders of the Natural World.
The race is an opportunity to showcase Cape Town and South Africa to the world; not just once but year after year. With the planned creation of a motor sport academy the Grand Prix could be boost to future engineers, car designers and even aspiring drivers in South Africa. Beyond extending the reach of Formula 1 into a 6th continent and truly becoming a global sport, the South African Grand Prix is an opportunity for F1 to leave a true legacy in its wake and have a palpable impact on the country it visits. It’s time for Africa.