The 2003 Classic Safari Challenge
A three week marathon drive across the heart of Africa.
The Safari Challenge hits town!
The streets of Lusaka were closed this afternoon as the Safari Challenge hit town. Cheered on by hundreds of local onlookers, drivers paraded around the town behind the motorcycle outriders of the city Police, who stood up on their footrests in order to gain maximum acclaim.
It was quite a show, as the Zambia Motor Sports Federation rustled up a couple of dozen classic cars of their own - everything from a Morris Minor pick-up with cutaway front wings, Fangio Chevy style, with Formula Three tyres sticking out by miles at the back…. Carlos Fandango is alive and well and hot-rods around Lusaka regularly., Their top billing was a 1950s Studabaker, one of 17 stored in a barn near here…. even an early 1960s MG Midget, on Minilite wheels, nipped into the show.
Then we had a reception at the Pamodzi hotel, where the press were lined up to ask questions. The Minister of Sport had just left for another appointment, as there was some confusion over when we might actually arrive. Come to that, every driver was pretty confused about that as well, as the route book had been torn up with the police motorcyclists going round and round the city, with route ideas of their own. Red traffic lights were ignored, and when locals realised this would be a good wheeze to actually beat the jams, the crocodile lead by the police bikers just grew and grew. It could only happen in Africa.
“Who is winning the Cape Town Race?” said one pretty girl with the biggest notebook of the lot. “I am,” said Bill Ainscough. “So, does that make you the leader?” Er, just about. “So, you are in first place then.” Yes. “What sort of car is this?” It’s a Ferrari. “How do you spell that?” Two Fs, two Es, two Rs, two As, and two Is, it’s Italian, means bloody fast. “But it says Vauxhall on the front.” Of course…. it’s the only Ferrari Vauxhall in the world. “Who is Prince Henry? And what do you think of Zambia’s Tourist Board?”
The newspapers the following morning were full of reports about Prince Henry being sorry he had to drop out of the big race, but Bill’s girlfriend stood in, very kindly, at the last minute, and Ferrari are now setting such a fast pace nobody else can get a look in.
“Zambia’s Tourist Board are doing a great job, and the roads are marvellous,” said the race leader - who added he would be even faster had Prince Henry joined him. The Zambia Motor Federation added that film of the event would be televised around the world, as a successful promotion of the attractions of Zambia in general and the benefits of classic car motoring in Africa in particular.
Talking of Hooray Henries, the pith helmet in Car Seven, the Ford V8, has a message for home. “Hello to the horse.” (This is wartime code for anyone who can remember the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth, and a thing called the Wireless).
Crikey chaps….the gin and tonics pack a mighty punch here