READY TO RACE AGAIN: 55 years after it was built, the Assegai, the only SA-built F1 car, will line-up at the Historic Monaco Grand Prix on May 13 - 15. Image: NewsPress
Cape Town - A labour of love is rewarded as a locally built Formula 1 car is set to compete in the illustrious historic Monaco Grand Prix (May 13 - 15).
55 years after it was built, an F1 car constructed in South Africa is primed to make its international racing debut in Monaco. It's called the Assegai.
Sadly its creator passed away just mere weeks before its much-anticipated debut at the upcoming 2016 Historic Monaco GP.
Old bones can still race
Built in 1961 by South African engineer and racing driver Tony Kotzé, who sadly passed away earlier in 2016, the Assegai was due to contest the 1962 Rand Grand Prix in Kyalami, but did not qualify.
Occasional track appearances and changes of ownership, the car was purchased at classic car auction specialists, Historics at Brooklands, in August 2015 by former F1 team member and now Oxfordshire classic car collector and enthusiast, John Carpenter.
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Together with long-time friend, historic racing car preparation guru and racing driver Iain Rowley and his Nuffield-based company, Delta Motorsport, John embarked on a painstaking journey to return the car to exactly the same mechanical specification as it appeared at Kyalami in 1962.
Iain will be at the wheel of the car as it lines up at the famous 3.34km Monaco road circuit.
The purity and simplicity of the Assegai - named after a Zulu spear - follows the lines of a Lotus 18, but with distinctive Italian styling cues. Its creator is said to have been obsessed with the sharknose of 1961 Ferrari F1 cars and hence the front styling of the car, which is powered by a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo engine and a five speed gearbox.
Humbled by the opportunity
Carpenter said: “It’s such an honour to be accepted by the ACM, The Automobile Club de Monaco, to compete the car at the tenth running of the biennial Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
“Since buying the car at Historics at Brooklands in 2015, Iain and I embarked on a hugely time-consuming voyage of discovery to ensure the Assegai is presented in entirely original mechanical specification in all respects, as demanded by the organisers. It’s been a great challenge but also a real labour of love.”
Rowley added: “Let’s hope we are more successful at Monaco than the car’s creator at Kyalami in 1962, but whatever the outcome, it will be a hugely memorable experience, and a fitting tribute to Tony Kotzé and his unique racing car after so many years.”
SA racing legend
SA racing legend, Tony Kotzé, sadly passed away on April 13 2016, after succumbing to illness.
Born on January 23 1931, Kotzé is a former South African F1 driver – best remembered for his self-built Assegai-Alfa Romeo F1 car. Other F1 cars he steered include a Cooper Bristol and a Lotus.
Kotzé was a much-loved and respected figure in Cape Town’s auto industry for more than 50 years.
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