Hartslief: Soweto Grand Prix ticks all the boxes


As we reported exclusively last week, facts have begun to emerge about a Soweto South African Grand Prix bid after rumours around such an event in recent weeks.

South African entrepreneur Bobby Hartslief, the man responsible for saving the South African Formula 1 Grand Prix in the early 1980s, has confirmed that he is instructed to put together a new bid for the sport’s return to the country. The event is proposed on a new street circuit to be constructed at the Nasrec showgrounds adjacent to Soweto, south of Johannesburg.

“Yes, I have been approached to offer advice and comment on the concept of a Soweto South African Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Nasrec showgrounds,” Hartslief confirmed on Friday. “A group of influential businesspeople contacted me some years ago with the concept of a massive event, one substantially greater than just three days of practice, and qualifying culminating in a two-hour Formula 1 race.

A Grand Prix in Soweto is set to become reality

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“A Soweto South African Grand Prix at the Nasrec showgrounds ticks all the right boxes. Nasrec is an international standard exhibition centre with all necessary amenities and more already in place. Nasrec is right next door to the soul of the country and the symbol of African liberty in Soweto.

“The adjacent FNB stadium successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer finals and easily caters for 94,000 people. All necessary planning and infrastructure to host a Soweto South African Grand Prix has been considered.

“That will cost money. Considering the challenges faced by government at every turn, it would be remiss to expect any surplus state cash to be handed out to fund a F1 Grand Prix. The group that has approached us however believes that they can raise the funds to float more than just a Soweto South African Grand Prix.

“Their concept is for a major event, an epic mega Grand Prix the proportions and magnitude of the 2010 soccer World Cup.”

Hartsleif ran the South African Grand Prix in the eighties, Moto GP later

“South Africa indeed continues to face its challenges. A Soweto South African Grand Prix for the people, by the people will not only bring international recognition and exposure, but it will also prove a significant morale booster for the country. It will also provide tens of thousands of much-needed jobs for our unemployed youth.

“Do I think a Soweto South African Grand Prix can happen around the Johannesburg Nasrec showgrounds?” Hartslief concluded. “Unequivocally yes! We will reveal more of our plans when our principals speak for themselves in due course.”

Bobby Hartslief organised and promoted five South African Formula 1 Grands Prix at Kyalami between 1981 to 1985. He then managed the affairs of three-time formula 1 world champion Nelson Piquet, before returning to South Africa. Hartslief later designed and built the Phakisa Freeway at Welkom. He once again against all odds, he organised, promoted, and ran six MotoGPs at the Free State circuit.