The Top Gear Festival took on a new approach this year; previously the show has been held at Northgate’s Coca Cola Dome, but for 2011 the venue changed and it all took place at the Kyalami Racetrack in Midrand. This year also saw it change from just a live show (the Thunderdome) with a smaller show-piece of cars outside the theatre to a full-blown festival.
A huge factor, unfortunately, was the wet weather throughout the festival, which put a major damper on things over the four days. Although there were complaints the crowds still came, supported and enjoyed the various activities and attractions. Another unfortunate disappointment was the Park and Ride which was badly organised but, again, it didn’t stop people from really enjoying the festival. Being more interactive this year, people got to see some of the world’s top supercars and race cars being taken around the track, at crazy speeds and in style, by some of SA’s and the world’s biggest motorsport names.
Top motoring celebs included the Queen of the Nurburgring, Sabine Schmitz, racing legend Sir Stirling Moss, SA F1 World Champion Jody Schechter, David Coulthard (brought in by Red Bull), Eddie Jordan and Derek Bell plus a whole lot more.
A huge part of the show also included the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team displaying last year’s winning car, piloted by former F1 driver, David Coulthard, whom the FLUX Mag team was privileged enough to meet in the Red Bull VIP area. Other great parts of the show were the BP Stunt School, drifting displays and suicide rides by the XS Promotions (sponsored by Ed Hardy Energy Drink), and DJ Lady Lea doing her thing from the boot of her Citroen DS3.
The Thunderdome show itself was hosted by the famous trio of Clarkson, May and Hammond, who aren’t strangers to South Africa. They were joined again by South Africa’s Sasha Martinengo, a special inclusion of 5th Gear’s Tiff Needell (who was part of the original Top Gear TV show years back), the Stig (of course) and a surprise appearance from South Africa’s first Playboy Playmate, Amy Tara Bridger who also added to the great atmosphere.
The show featured great displays like the boys squabbling over which is the best supercar; the Ferrari 458 (James), Mercedes SLS (Jeremy) or the Porsche 911 GT3 RS (Richard). They also featured a snippet from the next season of Top Gear (Season 16) that is coming to South Africa. As usual, the Top Gear Stunt Team showed off their skills using Chevy Luminas and the new Renault RS models in their stunt-driving missions, keeping the crowd on their toes. Other great parts of the Thunderdome show included a fridge being launched from the back of a monster truck at another car (it was apparently blocking an emergency exit), top freestyle motocross by some top South African riders and, as a final piece, poor Sasha Martinengo was launched from a crane and bungee jumped a car.
All in all the festival was great and when it comes back next year we hope the weather plays nice and we get to see more incredible additions to this huge motoring festival.
Images by Donovon Thorpe and Halo Photography