Every creed, colour, gender and age congregated in the South of Johannesburg in the name of spinning on Saturday 19 October.
The longstanding and popular motorsport was born in the townships of Soweto as a ritual to honour fallen gangsters during the Apartheid era and fast forward two decades later, spinning has transformed to become Africa’s biggest motorsport.
The night started with 16 of South Africa’s most ferocious daredevils but only one emerged through the smoke victorious. Vernon Hendricks or 'Veejaro' as he is called, walked away with top honours after outdueling his Southside crew family member Kayla Oliphant. The moment was incredibly surreal for the new dad as he didn’t expect to get far in the competition.
“I thought I was going to go out in the first round, I won’t lie because the car is so new. I’ve never tested it so I was quite nervous but it performed well and I put my faith in God.”
Veejaro competed in his brand spanking new BMW 325i two door. In the final showdown, he was executing power slides and donuts with clean precision while doing more advanced tricks like moving 90 to 90 with effortless control and command over the car. In the waning seconds of his round, he hopped up on top of the car and popped the hoodie up while the car was spinning in 360 degree motion.
The crowd went insane.
But the 13 year veteran wasn’t going to win that easy. Girl power was in full throttle as Kayla came out the gate swerving before burning the tyres with her signature suicide slide. She proceeded to give power slides with force and before her time was up, she spun close to the exit and her BMW E30 M52 328 didn’t move. That spelt trouble.
She tried to make one last push to propel the car forward but the radiator hose was done for and so was any chance of her walking with the crown.
But Kayla isn’t fazed. Her mission was to give her best performance out of the pure love she has for the sport. “I came out to have fun. I don’t really worry about the competition. This is more about the recognition and being part of it was such a privilege,” said Kayla.
Veejaro admits that contending against the Kimberly native was no child’s play, not only on a technical end but also on a personal one. “Going up against Southside crew member was the toughest part of the competition. We have a really close relationship; we are like brother and sister. For her [this loss] is going to be a stepping stone to do better in the next competition, “he stated.
Kayla was certainly a fan favourite and she earned every single cheer and clap with her valiant performance throughout the hot summers night. The stunt queen finished the knockout round with the highest scores from the judges and continued to dazzle against other more experienced men like spinning Lord Dylan “Vaaitjie Kunene” Brough in the quarter finals and Team Saluki’s very own Lorenzo “Renzo” Dada.
The Saluki henchman gave Kayla a run for her money in the semis as he energized the crowd with his high velocity spins and suicide slides. Kayla had tricks up her sleeve as well but had some technical difficulties with her E30 as there was mishap with her wiring. The motor soldier kept her cool and hit pedal to the metal. She won the crowd and the judges over with her 360 spin in the center of the track while most of her body was hanging out of the car with her head an inch away from the ground and one leg in the air and the other on the wheel – a trick she learnt from fellow spinner Tyrique “Riqzo” Padaychee.
But she wasn’t the only one representing for the ladies. Tina Rossouw from Pretoria was a strong competitor because she claimed top prize at the Easter Spin Bash in the women’s section earlier in the year. Alison Fortuin was also present and accounted for and the Bloemfontein born petrol head is known for her spinning and her facial expressions when she is on the track.
Other honourable mentions include the notorious king of Maftown spinning gawd Austin Kriger, who also won the men’s section of the Easter Spin Bash. He had a strong showing in the knockout round but met his match in Sunesh Pursad, winner of the BMW Burn Out Competition. The 14 year veteran showed that he can still keep up with the young bloods in the sport. He advanced to the semi-finals where he would meet his match in Veejaro.
Despite the competition, there is a strong spirit of camaraderie amongst the drivers. Because for them, it is not just a sport, it is a culture that binds them together. And from the young to the more experienced, they have all had a hand in building the status of spinning in the country and expanding the imprint beyond Mzansi’s borders. The next step: get the sport on the world stage.
“I would love for the sport to go international and for us to compete overseas so that everyone can see the amazing things we are doing in South Africa,” stated Veejaro. “For that to happen, more events of this calibre need to happen to open the doors of possibility.”