CARCOL RACING INTRODUCTION
South Africa has a proud tradition of historic car racing, going back to 1973 when the Historic Racing Car Register was formed. A few years back this club evolved into what is now know as Historic Racing South Africa and caters for both sports and saloon cars. Initially the saloon category catered for cars built before 1977 but in order to preserve younger classics it now sees a manufacturing date cut off of pre1979. As part of the Midas Historic Tour the historic saloon cars compete at Zwartkops Raceway, Kyalami, Phakisa Freeway as well as the odd jaunt to the famed East London Grand Prix circuit and the brand new Dezi Raceway near Port Shepstone. After completing a number of Mercedes-Benz advanced driver training courses at Zwartkops Carcol’s Colin Kean decided to build a car suitable for taking part in the odd track day. His weapon of choice was a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth built in the spirit of the car raced by Ayrton Senna in 1983. Colin honed his skills at open days before stumbling across the historic racing series. Unfortunately his 190E was too new for the date periods so he was forced into building an earlier car to compete. With years of three-pointed star experience at his fingertips the obvious choice was a Mercedes-Benz. A suitable donor car was purchased – a W123 280CE. Building a stripped out racer would have limited him to the out and out saloon car series but by keeping it road legal and registered he could take in both the saloon and the Marque Car series, which meant four heats on a race day and not just 2. Sticking to the motto of “Keep it Simple Stupid” he upgraded the brakes to W126 500SE units, added a custom exhaust manifold, some new Bilstien shock absorbers and a bolt-in roll cage. The results speak for themselves with Carcol’s wall lined with silverware from numerous class wins in both formulae. Interesting he started competing with an automatic gearbox before converting to manual a year or so later. Stuart Grant saw the reliability and out-the-box pace benefits competiton Mercedes brought to the part when his Volkswagen Scirocco was trounced by the hulking 280CE and jumped ship soon thereafter. Carcol built Grant an older W114 280 for use in Marques Cars and Saloons. With similar paced machines Grant and Kean have gone at it on track ever since – showing once again that the person you most want to beat on track is your team mate. The growth of a historic endurance series has seen the Carcol Mercedes crew showing even more ability. While not the fastest on the grid they have shown that the best way to be successful in an endurance is to finish the race. Over the last 4 years Carcol has featured at the top of every 9-Hour Retro Index of Performance tables, taken class wins and been in the top five overall against the likes of Ford GT40s, Porsche 917s, Porsche 911s and AC Cobras. They have been the first saloon home three of those four years beating some more sporting models like Ford Escort, BMW 2002, Datsun SSS and Volkswagen Sciroccos. While Colin continues to use his original 280CE he has also built a stripped out W123 28E and W123 280CE for competition. And when a road going 230E with 777 000km on the clock came into the showroom he felt it only fitting to put it on track and show the bullet-proof nature of the car. His nephew Nicholas debuted the old jalopy at Kyalami.