Pioneer Chitepo back for CarGuard Mud Festival

12 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views


HE has been in the trenches for quite a long-time now but the man always plays “now you see me, now you don’t” with the sport of motorsport in this country.

Collin Matiza

George Chitepo is one of the black pioneers of motor racing in this country, having come onto the scene as a rookie driver in the tough world of motor rallying in the early 2000s.

Back then, motor rallying was dominated by whites in this country but Chitepo entered the sport after seeing another motor rally black driver, Big “Bigs” Chitima, hogging the limelight in the then elite sport.

Challenging the status quo which had the likes of seasoned motor rallying campaigners such as Jamie and Shaun Whyte, Richard “Mahobho” Robinson, the legendary Conrad Rautenbach, Colin Schreiber, Jess Watson, Craig Green and Chase Attwell was going to be a herculean task for him.

But he quietly entered into motor rallying and announced his arrival by coming sixth during the 2012 Zimbabwe Challenge Rally.

That was a phenomenal achievement by a rookie driver who was navigating for South African Pieter Pulisa.

In fact, another local motor driver, Sherwin Evans, inspired him to get into motor racing “when I was just a mere spectator in 2004”.

“For my debut race, he (Evans) sold me a rally car in instalments, which is very kind for someone to have someone pay for a rally car in instalments,” Chitepo told Zimpapers Sports on Wednesday.

After that and the scrapping of the Zimbabwe Challenge Rally from the local motorsport calendar, Chitepo went into hibernation for close to five years, only to resurface as a drag racing driver during the last event of the 2014 Telecel Drag Racing Series on November 2, 2014, at Donnybrook Park Raceway in Harare.

Chitepo took part in drag racing events for close to two years, only for him to make another “disappearing act” from motor racing for the past five years or so.

And like a hare being pulled out of the hat by a magician, Chitepo has resurfaced again and on Wednesday, he announced that he was still very active in local motorsport events and will be part of the cast that will take part in tomorrow’s CarGuard 4×4 Mud Festival at Donnybrook.

“Remember I used to do motor racing but it is now expensive to take part in. So, 4×4 Jamboree and Mud Run are much cheaper to take part in, you just use your normal or ordinary 4×4 vehicle and it’s a cheaper version of motorsport I decided to take part as I’m now getting old… I’m turning 55 this year.

“The thing is, at the 4×4 Club we are just one big family. There’s not much difference from what we were doing at motor rally… There’s no colour, there’s no what, it’s the same thing we were doing at motor rally.

“But now the problem is that 4×4 is not a community-based sport or what, 4×4, yes, it is motorsport but it has got the adventure part of it and the conservation part of it because, I tell you what, everybody who is got a 4×4, one way or another, is a conservationist.

“They are the same people who go to game parks and are conservationists. The thing now is the sport is different from motor rally. In rally, your car has to be prepared whereas in 4×4 you just need to know how to use it…

“And remember Phil Archenoul, who used to do motor rally. Phil is a member of the 4×4 Club and he has been there for ages and so as old as we are with Phil…. Phil is over 60 and I’m 50, so when we retired, we decided to get involved more into 4×4 events. It is motorsport but it is more for conservationists.

“But there are also classes in 4×4 events… I’m into long wheel base and it’s unmodified and there are also modified cars and so forth. We have so many people in our communities who have 4×4 vehicles but they don’t know how to use them in 4×4 activities and that is what we are trying to teach or educate people about by holding this Saturday’s 4×4 Mud Festival at Donnybrook.

“I’m sure Phil can teach these people how to use their 4×4 vehicles when they’re off the road,” Chitepo said.

Chitepo also said he is now more of a conservationist than anything else.

“Other than that (taking part in 4×4 events), my life is now more into wildlife and environmental conservation voluntary work, going to places like Mana Pools, Gonarezhou and Hwange Game Park under the Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ).

“I am the current chairman of the Mana Pools,” Chitepo said.

But all eyes at Donnybrook tomorrow will be on the former motor rally driver and navigator as he takes part in the CarGuard 4×4 Mud Festival.

Racing starts at 10.30am and entry fees for the spectators has been pegged at US$5 per person while kids under the age of 12 will get in for free. There will be catering and cooler boxes are allowed.

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