Saturday, 7 September 2019

Mapping Motor Marathon Route


CAPE ARGUS – 1939, February 4
Mapping out the route for this year’s Motor Marathon, three officials of the Metropolitan Motor-Cycle and Car Club left Cape Town this afternoon on a 2,250-mile journey round the Union. Before they left, they announced the route of this year’s Round-the-Union reliability trial (which embraces the famous Cape-Rand-Cape trial, and as a novelty will traverse a section of the Kalahari).
Sores of would-be entrants and thousands of people in the towns along the route will be interested to know the way the marathon cars will go.




Two fields of competitors will start simultaneously at 2 p.m. on Thursday before Good Friday. They will leave Cape Town and Johannesburg, and will both travel in an anti-clockwise direction.
The cape Drivers will plunge straightaway into a series of tricky and scenic mountain passes. They will go through Stellenbosch, over Hells Hoogte, then over French Hoek Pass, through Villiersdorp and Rooihoogte to Worcester, then to Robertson and by way of the winding Bonnievale to Swellendam.
They will keep to the national road as far as Mossel Bay (secret controls will be avoided as far as possible on national roads) and then branch up the Robinson Pass. When they reach Eight Bells farm, which is on the main road, they will turn sharply down a private road notorious during the last Round-the-Union trial as “the gate section.” With 14 gates in 11 miles, this private track runs down to Little Brak River, and it is certain to be alive with secret controls.
KNYSNA FOREST
After passing George the motorists will be led on the detour down the Wilderness before rejoining through the Main Forest, the haunt of the Knysna elephants.
Then comes the terrific climb of the Prince Alfred Pass, and after that a tricky and little-known poort leading from Avontuur to Uniondale. The Karoo escarpment reached, the competitors will travel through Willowmore, Aberdeen, Graaff-Reinet, Hanover, Colesberg, Phillipolis and Fauresmith to Bloemfontein. This section avoids the national roads as far as possible.
Bloemfontein to Johannesburg is an easy section off the national roads, through Excelsior, Senekal, Lindley, Heilbron and Potchefstroom.
REST OF 16 HOURS
The Cape drivers will have a rest of at least 16 hours in Johannesburg as the Rand men will have at least 16 hours at the Cape.
The Cape drivers will then attack the route that the Rand men will already have covered: through Krugersdorp, to Rustenburg, passing through the Magaliesberg; then along the winding road through the Western Transvaal bush to Zeerust.
The next section is through the Malmani goldfields at Ottoshoop to Mafeking in British Bechuanaland.
The Kalahari section of the route lies through Vryburg and Kuruman, and so to Postmasburg with the manganese mines. It continues through Griquatown and Prieska, where the Orange River will be crossed for the second time (on the upward journey the crossing is between Colesberg and Phillipolis).
The route then crosses the “Kaaingvlakte,” an area of small white stones like suet-dumplings, to Carnarvon, and then branches west to Calvinia.
NOVICES’ CHANCE
It is hoped that this year Calvinia will enter several teams of country motorists (three novices, brothers living in the country, won the premier award in last year’s Motor Marathon, and this has encouraged other novices to realise that they have as good a chance as the experts in this long trial).
From Calvinia the trial crosses three passes – Oorlogs Kloof, Botterkloof and Pakhuis Pass to Clanwilliam. After winding along the Olifants River dam for some miles it goes through Citrusdal and over Grey’s Pass. The road from there to Cape Town is not yet certain.
Inquiries from Johannesburg and other centres already received indicate that the Motor Marathon this year will attract a large field. It is the most spectacular event of its kind in the world, and receives a good deal of attention in the overseas Press.
MR. SYMONS’S TRIBUTE
Mr. H. E. Symons, the famous English motorist who left for Southampton in the mail steamer yesterday after setting up a London-Cape car record, remarked to a representative of The Argus: “I should have liked to stay here for the Round-the-Union trial, and indeed may return with an English car to compete in it. Even the Monte Carlo Rally in some ways cannot compare with this event of yours.
“The grueling conditions encountered, the great mileage covered, the magnificent scenery enjoyed by the competitors, the fine performances registered in the past, and the good sportsmanship which I am told exists among the drivers, all go to make it a great event. It certainly is one of the finest tests of man and machine in the motoring world.”


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