Old Mercs give it Horns

13 November 2012 - 21:40 By THOMAS FALKINER

Charity begins at the racetrack. Well, it did during the final round of the Midas Historic Tour that was held at Zwartkops Raceway last weekend.

Always keen to try something different, the Greenside-based Mercedes-Benz specialists, Carcol Executive Auto, decided to use the 2.4km circuit as a platform to help create awareness for Rhinose Day: a public fundraiser in the last three months of the year to help raise some much-needed cash for the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa.

Yep, showing their support for the most endangered member of the Big Five, Carcol "factory" drivers, Colin Kean and Stuart Grant strapped giant red rhino horns to the radiator grilles of their classic Mercedes-Benz 280E race cars. Stuck without a ride for the weekend, and eager for a slice of the asphalt action, I joined the Greenside duo in a rather special 230E.

How special? Well, considering that it now has nearly 800000km on the odometer, I'd have to say, very. You see, while most cars of comparable vintage have long been relegated to the scrapheap, this cream-coloured zombie bellowed its way around the circuit with all the verve of a much younger model.

Thanks to some cheap and basic modifications (chopped springs and a set of year-old semi-slick tyres), I was able to pilot the old dear to a second-place finish in the first Marques Car heat of the day. Unfortunately this unexpected success was thwarted during the second heat when my rear exhaust silencer decided to implode; a freak incident that strangled the engine and forced me to retire on lap two.

Luckily Kean made up for my mechanical misfortunes by clinching overall Marques Car honours behind the wheel of his ultra-reliable 280CE coupé . The Carcol man also scored some additional silverware in the sweaty one-hour endurance race where, teamed up with the experienced likes of Grant, he came second in his class and second in the index of performance.

"It was great day's racing," said Kean after prize-giving. "What made it extra special was the fact that the team and I could help spread the word about Rhinose Day; I think we really gave it horns!"

See howyou can join the anti-poaching cause - click on Rhinoseday.com