Knysna Speed Festival is South Africa’s premier domestic motorsport lifestyle event. It has rapidly garnered international appeal to become an annual spectacle of celebrities, high powered cars and family entertainment.
Hosted in the Garden Route’s most popular coastal town, Knysna, it offers an all-round weekend experience of thrills and spills and what is arguably the most scenic and spectacular start line in the country.
International participation and attendance
Since its inception in 2009, drivers from Australia, Germany, the USA and the UK have competed in the event. In 2019 17,000 people came through the gate and there were more than 250,000 livestream views over the weekend. You Tube footage of the Hillclimb has over nine million views. Many attendees came from around the world and not all of them were motorsport mad visitors but ordinary people who wanted to see the event and explore the greater Knysna area.
Short and intense
The field, made up of classic and modern cars, is extremely competitive and although there is a friendly atmosphere that makes it appealing to spectators, the drivers take it very seriously. At just 1.9 km long the Hillclimb is quite short, but what it lacks in distance it certainly makes up for in intensity. From zero to 1.9km in just 35 seconds, at an average speed of over 193km/h – from a standing start – and maximum speeds of over 250km/h the action is intoxicating.
The status of the event has been recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the global controlling body of motorsport, through a guaranteed invitation to the Simola Hillclimb winners to compete in the FIA Hill Climb Masters race held in Europe.
Like the Knysna Oyster Festival, the event, which is now 11 years old, was started to boost tourism to the greater Knysna area. In the first year there were no grandstands, very few vendors and just 46 cars lined up at the start with about 1,500 spectators.
From these humble beginnings the event grew rapidly and the 2020 event, which had to be cancelled because of Covid-19, was already oversubscribed months before applications closed, with entries accepted from the likes of Stuart White (previously part of the Sauber F1 Junior team), Reghard Roets, Peter Lindenberg, Graeme Nathan, Clare Vale, Franco Scribante, Wilhelm Baard, Terence Marsh, Andre Bezuidenhout and Robert Wolk.
The event also has a social responsibility side and in 2019 over R80,000 was handed over to local charities. Since its inception, the Knysna Hill Climb has raised nearly R600,000 for charity.
The 2021 event
The 2021 programme over the 4-day weekend 2-5 September 2021 will be a spectacle of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, formula cars, specialist race cars, and vintage and classic cars. This is the must-attend event for car enthusiasts and competitors. There is no other motorsport event on the calendar that attracts such a vast and diverse range of people, iconic cars and legendary drivers from all eras.
Traditionally the weekend kicks off on Thursday with the Fan Fest including the Classic Car Display and Parade in Hedge Street, and from thereon in it is non-stop entertainment for the rest of the weekend. The classic cars race on Friday, with the highly modified racing saloons, specialist single seaters and sport cars, and the road going saloons and supercars on track on Saturday and Sunday.
All tickets for the 2021 Simola Hillclimb can be purchased on the event website. This includes general entry, a strictly limited number of pit access tickets, turn 2 grandstand seating, pit priority parking, as well as the exclusive VIP hospitality packages for the popular Piston Club or Le Mans VIP Hospitality suite. Single-day and three-day passes are available.