1974 South African Grand Prix
- Saturday, March 30, 1974
- Lucky Strike South African Grand Prix
- F1 World Championship
Kyalami, March 30th
After a two-month break following the two South American Grand Prix races, during which the Brands Hatch Race of Champions conveniently took place, the World Championship series was resumed at South Africa’s Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg. A degree of uncertainty had surrounded the fate of this race for a few months following the South African Government’s ban on all forms of motoring sport which use pump petrol, and at one point it seemed as though the race would not take place at all. Fortunately, the circuit and race are under the direct control of a very determined man called Alex Blignaut, primarily a very astute businessman but also basically a racing enthusiast for he owns Tyrrell 004 and enters it with the assistance of Embassy sponsorship in local races for his friend Eddie Keizan. Blignaut wanted his race to go ahead, and some subtle hints that the circuit could be sold as a housing estate eventually made the necessary approval forthcoming from the authorities, although the date had to be delayed until the end of March.
Pre-race testing was allowed on a couple of days during the previous week, these sadly being highlighted by a fatal accident to UOP-Shadow team leader Peter Revson. Testing DN3/1A, the car in which he had taken sixth place in the Race of Champions the Sunday before, Revson crashed on the sweeping downhill right-hander called Barbecue just before the end of the main straight. The accident occurred at a point where drivers are changing from third to fourth gear and evidence suggests that the pin holding the front left wishbone to the upright broke and sent the car straight on into the steel barrier at almost ninety degrees. Denny Hulme, Emerson Fittipaldi, Graham Hill and Eddie Keizan all stopped to help extricate the American driver from the wrecked Shadow, but the impact inflicted fatal injuries on Revson and there was nothing they could do to help. It was significant, however, that a large number of drivers expressed a new apprehension over steel barriers and their potential dangers after this accident. There was no need for such barriers at this point, and modifications to the circuit took place before official practice started, a triple-layer catch fence replacing the barrier at the scene of the accident. Remembering how both Stewart and Cevert were saved from injury by catch fences at Crowthorne Corner last year, one could not help feeling this was another case of “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted” and can only nurture the vain hope that the latest victim of these barriers will at least provoke some less muddled thinking over the question of safety facilities.