“Kyalami is ready to go.” Those were the words spoken to us in an exclusive interview with the CEO of LSM Distributors and owner of Kyalami, Toby Venter. The boss of the OT Venter Group was in the Cape to launch two new products into the local market: the recently revised Macan and all-new 911 GTS read (our report at this link) derivatives.

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We caught up with Venter while he was in the Mother City to talk about Kyalami and the likelihood of a Formula One race coming back to SA, more specifically to the Midrand circuit. The last F1 race was held on local soil in 1993 at the historic track. Since then we have hosted the FIA World Rallycross series on two occasions and soon there will be a Formula E race on the streets of Cape Town as you can read here.

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Preserving history

“When we bought Kyalami in 2014, a Formula One race was not our priority. The circuit had fallen into disrepair and we wanted to save this piece of SA motorsport; that was our main focus. Between then and now we’ve invested R600m into the facility.

“We flattened 40 structures and refurbished the facilities to build a steady income stream. We wanted to create a world-class facility that would allow us to host shows and events” says Venter. In 2019 we resurrected the famous Kyalami 9 Hour. In 2021 alone, with no events taking place to date, we have invested R3m.” 

Speaking of 2021, we were informed that the Kyalami 9 Hour has been confirmed for December 4 of this year. As government has confirmed that up to 2 000 people can attend outdoor events, perhaps some race fans will be in attendance. Click here to check out our bespoke gallery of images from the K9H.

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On the subject of a Formula One race returning to the African continent, and more specifically SA, Venter had the the following to say:

“Formula One needs an African race and from that point of view Kyalami is ready. Unless some other African country comes up with the money, which is about $300m, to build a facility we are the front runners.” 

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“We are regularly in contact with Liberty F1 (the commercial rights holder of Formula One) about the possibility of a race in SA. Currently the track has an FIA level 2 certification (F1 requires level 1). Last year when Formula One was trying to pull together a calendar they went back to tracks that have the same grading we do. But we can make the changes that are required if there is some guarantee of a race. 

“As owners of the track we can act as promoter or simply provide the venue to another company that is willing to host a race. The bottom line is, it comes down to money, if someone wants to host a race it can happen sooner rather than later.”

Motorsport is renowned as an expensive sport, from getting in, to pursuing a career and that extends all the way to hosting of events. This is no more evident than the exorbitant fees required to host an F1 race. Kyalami is an ideal venue but Venter can’t bear all the costs.