East London

East London

Racing at the East London circuit began in 1934 when Brud Bishop, a newspaper editor, instigated the first South African Grand Prix. The race was held on December 27th of that year, on a 15 mile road circuit to the west of the city, and proved to be a huge success, attracting 65,000 spectators.

The event continued from 1936-39 and began to attract top European drivers, including Bernd Rosemeyer, Dick Seaman, and the 1939 winner Luigi Villoresi. These races took part on a shortened 11 mile track, which was thereupon named Prince George Circuit.

The first post war South African Grand Prix took place in January 1960, on a modernised, and much shortened 2.4 mile track utilising a only small part of the original Prince George Circuit. Unusually the event took place twice that year and was held again in 1961. In 1962, the South African GP was given World Championship status, and East London played host to the title decider. An astonishing 90,000 spectators watched Jim Clark dominate the final race of the season, until an oil leak forced him out with 20 laps to go. Graham Hill took over the lead and went on to win for BRM, taking his first World Champioship in the process.

East London went on to host further Grands Prix in 1963, 65 and 66 after which the race switched to the newly constructed Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg, never to return to the Prince George Circuit again.

The circuit continued as a national venue, largely unchanged since its original construction. But the difficulties of South African political, and economic situations meant that the circuit eventually began to fade from prominence. Happily, in December 2014 plans for a major renovation of the circuit were announced, including new pits, a new pit lane, a VIP and media centre, grandstands and medical facilities. After many years in the doldrums, it appears that East London's circuit may well be on the rise once again.

NIN-1052 East London

East London Ninco layout East London Ninco layout perspectiveEast London Ninco layout perspective view East London Ninco layout colour coded
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South African Grand Prix 1962