The tributes have been pouring in as his family and the entire Cape car fraternity mourns the sudden passing of a great man, a legend and humble icon both on and off the track, Shaheen Barmania.
Known at the track for his awesome ‘Suspect’ Chevvy Lumina and his kwaai team, it is for the generous contribution to his Mitchells Plain community that he will also be remembered, though with less fanfare, which according to friends, is probably the way he would like it.
Bobby Nitro spoke to some of his good friends and members of his racing team, and the message was one: that Shaheen was that rare man who inspired others to be their best, approached racing to make friends rather than rivals, and extended kindness and an unconditional helping hand to all.
His presence will be sorely missed, though the stories told of Shaheen will become legend.
Close buddy Mogamat Harris, owner also of a Lumina (the orange one) says: “We met each other through both owning Luminas, over a dozen years of racing. What a great man, an honest and open guy. We travelled together across the country many times to go to races. I could talk for days about him, even though there are no words that can adequately describe Shaheen. At the track, he would make friends, not rivals.”
Al-Ameen Allie, a pal of many years, says: “Shaheen was like a brother. I could never pop in at his legendary workshop for five minutes, it would be a minimum of two hours as we sat discussing motorsport and religion. I think it was me who inspired the move from the 800m to quarter mile.”
The suspect Lumina was (and still is) a force to be reckoned with, topping the 320km/h mark on the top-end drags, then 8.7 seconds on the quarter mile.
Al-Ameen continues: “As testament to the team, in all it was a few days to make the necessary adjustments to make the move to Killarney. As a member of Team Suspect, I would like to thank all for their prayers, and may the Almighty grant Shaheen the highest place in heaven.”
Bobby spoke to Ralph Kumbier and Bobby could hear the sadness as he spoke. Ralph, another drags legend and co-driver (alongside Hermann Mahnke) of the Lumina, says: “Shaheen’s passing is a big loss for motorsport, and for the Mitchells Plain community, where he provided a soup kitchen every Friday. He will be remembered as a gentleman, and very helpful. As a sportsman, he was enthusiastic and well-prepared.”
Ralph say that he believes it is in Shaheen’s wishes that his car lives on, it will not sit under a cover. Look out for the 7 March meet at Killarney.
What Bobby heard from Herman Mahnke was admiration and respect: “In one word, Shaheen was humble. I’ve never met someone like him, who built his business up from the ground through hard work. That came through in decisions about the car. He never threw money at it, he made careful decisions and wanted the Lumina to be a home build, something we did together, rather than importing a ready made. We did our own thing, learning as we went.
“I have often been asked, and for him it wasn’t about driving the car, it was about the process of building the car, and building team spirit. People came first.”
Last night we got some really tragic news that sent shivers down my spine 😢 it was confirmation of the death of a truly...Posted by Shafaaz FordKop Moihdeen on Thursday, January 28, 2021
In testament to great sportsmanship, even though the Lumina was number one at Killarney for years, Shaheen would always say, in his inclusive way: “It’s one of the fastest cars,” and never give in to the ego rush of ‘it’s the fastest’.
body.copy.three...: Seeraj Rylands started out as opposition to Shaheen, but, he says, that didn’t last as the two fast became friends.
Seeraj says: “We would always see each other at the track. Then one day in Joburg Shaheen came over and we teamed up.”
Team Suspect has been a family as well as a well-oiled machine that gets the job done. Seeraj has been responsible for tuning on the Lumina.
“We’ll never know all the good the man has done. Shaheen would do a lot in the community and never speak about it.”
The impression Bobby picked up from speaking with Seeraj was that Shaheen would also get the best out of others, instead of just making himself look good. In a sport that inevitably involves ego, he was humble.
Moulana Kader of Westgate Mosque says: “He was a friend, a brother I have known for 30 years. With his great heart he would reach out and help others in the community, especially with his weekly soup kitchen. I have spoken to Shaheen’s children and encouraged them to follow in their father’s legacy.”
Shaheen, your memory and your legacy will live on.