Athlone motorsport veteran Armien Levy could not contain his excitement when he heard the news of the Formula E World Championships coming to Cape Town, in February 2022.
In a phone call with Athlone News last Friday, Levy, 74, said his new mission is to get tickets for the championships as soon as they are available.
Formula E is a single-seater motorsport championship for electric-powered cars.
Officially called the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the event will be held in a Cape Town street circuit.
For the Levy family, motorsport is a culture.
His sons, Anwar and Ebrahim are racers, his daughter, Fuzlin, recently retired from the sport, and his grandson, Reza, is a budding racer in the karting world.
In the 1989, the Levy family were honoured by Motorsport SA with the Mintex Formula Ford’s Most Enthusiastic Family award. In 2004 Levy received an Honours Award from the Western Province Motor Club.
The senior Levy reminisced about being 12 years old and dismantling a clockwork toy car his father brought him to make it go faster.
He was one of the first racers of colour to participate at a major motorsport event in the country in 1969.
However, due to laws that prevented black people from taking part in races, he had to start off as a mechanic.
While a mechanic, Levy and a couple of his friends built their own stock cars, under their club, the Cape Daredevils.
The Cape Daredevils had cars but could not race. They needed to network with like minded people who did not see colour in the sport.
After a year-long battle with the government over regulations, the Cape Daredevils, with help from Cape Helldrivers’ Jack Holloway, had their first race on December 28, 1969.
They went on to create numerous memories in the history of motorsport in SA. In 1979 they entered a Datsun SSS in a five-day long Castro International Rally that stretched from Pretoria to Swaziland.
They also built a Ford Anglia for a stock car programme that Levy entered and won in Paarl.
From 1981, Levy won six regional championships with his Formula Ford, in the Main Circuit racing, at Killarney International Raceway.
In the 1990s, Levy became a vocal exco member for Western Province Motor Club. He continues to race and rally for motorsport from his workshop, Team Armien Levy Motorsport, at Gleemor, in Athlone.
He is hopeful of a seat at next year’s eighth season of the Formula E World Championships.
The fortunate Levy said over the years he has enjoyed numerous FIA World Rallycross Championships at Killarney. He has also attended the annual Drift City at the Grand Parade. And, he was at the famous 1993 South African Grand Prix, at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, in Gauteng.
“This is good news to me. To have an international race here in our beautiful country, especially this new Formula E. For the first time in SA the local people will enjoy it because it is silent with no engine noise like other cars,” he said.
“For me it’s a milestone as I have raced from the Apartheid era up until now. I am 74 years old and still racing in a modified BMW. Bring it on, we are looking forward to it,” said Levy.
In a media release, Mayor Dan Plato said the electric car event will unlock major investment, job creation and tourism potential through identifying Cape Town as the racing destination of the African continent.
The cars run on 100% renewable energy, and having such an event here would also assist Cape Town in raising awareness and taking action against air pollution.
The City of Cape Town said it has, in principle decided to support the event with R2 million in cash, subject to the event returning to the City for future tournaments. A further R2m would be provided in the form of services.
“We look forward to finalising internal processes in order to meet the relevant requirements for staging such an exciting event. The City has the necessary infrastructure and skills to host an event of this size, and we are confident that it will further cement Cape Town’s global reputation as the world’s leading festival and event destination,” said Mr Plato.