Jackie Pretorius 1934-2009

Jackie Pretorius has died at the age of 74 from injuries received when intruders broke into his house in Glen Austin, a suburb of Johannesburg, three weeks ago. It was the second such attack on the Pretorius house. His wife Shirley died as a result of her injuries in a previous assault some years ago.

Born Jacobus Pretorius, he was a member of one of South Africa’s most famous families. A decendant of one of the earliest Dutch settlers., he was related to Andries Pretorius, who was instrumental in the creation of the Transvaal Republic and his son Martinus, who was the first president of the South African Republic and compiled the constitution and founded the city of Pretoria in honour of his father.

Jackie was born in the family seat at Potchefstroom, not far from Johannesburg in 1934 and grew up in very comfortable circumstances. He was a hellraiser from an early age and in his twenties he joined forces with Doug Serrurier, speedway champion Buddy Fuller and several others to form the Dunlop Hell Drivers Team, putting on shows of precision driving and staging deliberate crashes such as crashing through flaming barricades and jumping cars from ramp to ramp. These were not all very successful and in one such incident to suffered a broken pelvis and internal injuries aat s how that was held 40 miles from the nearest hospital. He decided that it would be best to turn to the safe world of motor racing and began his career in Formula Junior. He was soon in trouble again, ending one event with a mouthful of sand having been thrown from a cartwheeling Cooper. He then joined Serrurier's LDS-Alfa Romeo team and attempted to qualify one of the local cars in the South African GP at East London in 1965. That was not a success but he became a regular in the local F1 series, moving on to Aldo Scribante's Scuderia Scribante before returning to Serrurier's team in 1968 to race a Team Pretoria Brabham and soon won his first local F1 victory and finished second in the series that year but again failed to make it into the South African GP. He then added sports cars to his F1 activities, competing in the celebrated Springbok series across southern Africa. In 1971 he joined Team Gunston and raced a Brabham and was again runner-up in the South African F1 series. That year he qualified for the Grand Prix, but retired with mechanical trouble. During this period he was employed by Wynn Oil and in 1972 the team became Team Wynn’s and enjoyed more success wth a Brabham. His last effort in the F1 World Championship was in 1973 when he was invited by Frank Williams to drive an Iso Williams, standing in for the injured Nanni Galli. He qualified but retired from the race with an overheating engine.

At the end of the year, at the age of 39, he decided to retire from the sport. He remained with Wynn Oil until his retirement after 34 years with the company.

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