DECEMBER 11, 1995
More about South Africa
A little further research into South Africa's aspirations of holding Grands Prix in the future, reveals that since March 1993 things have changed. Then the circuit boss Mervyn Key was arrested after the race and charged with fraud, forgery. The track was subsequently acquired by the Automobile Association of South Africa, which is based in nearby Braamfontein.
Since the takeover the circuit has been running at a profit thanks to the use of the pit buildings as conference rooms and exhibition centers. There is also a high-performance driving school. The track surroundings have been upgraded with 7000 trees having been planted.
In order to finance a Grand Prix, however, a great deal more money is needed and the track will also probably have to be altered to provide more overtaking opportunities. It is unlikely that the AASA can raise the money without a substantial sponsor. The other option is to get government backing and use the race to promote foreign investment in South Africa. This is Kyalami's strongest selling point because since Nelson Mandela was elected president of the new South Africa on May 2, 1994, there has been political stability and with it has come an upturn in the economy. Although there has been some foreign investment the government is trying to attract more and more big business.
Kyalami is fortunate that South Africa has F1 fans in important positions. One of the new board of directors of the AASA is married to President Nelson Mandela's daughter, while Cyril Ramaphosa, the secretary-general of the ruling party and a likely future president - is an F1 fanatic.
If the money can be found there is little doubt that the AASA would jump at the chance to hold another South African GP. If money is found now, there could be a race late in 1996, but a date in 1997 is thought to be much more likely.
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