Getting onto the pitch with the big boys... well, that must be one of the most thrilling parts of development in a sport.
Of course, the lead up to that moment involves so much more practice, learning from those who have taken the path before you, making mistakes and getting up again.
One of the exciting developments in motorsport lately has come from Supporting People in Need (SPIN), an NGO that, among other things, runs a youth development programme for youngsters wanting to get into spinning.
And last weekend four young Cape representatives - Ricardo Schaffers, Dylan Peterson, Aqeel Brown and Wafeeq Oliver got to travel to Joburg, with spin cars in tow, to participate in an international spin event held at The Rock Raceway. What an opportunity.
Mentored by Sean February, who when Bobby Nitro first encountered him, was a rof young driver progressing from spin to drift.
He is now, and in his own words, an experienced ou ballie tutoring the youngsters (gotcha there Sean). But that does not prevent him from being a serious competitor.
It all began when Suntech Events extended an invite to the youth development programme to participate as exhibition drivers and SPIN instructor Sean was invited to represent the South African team that went up against the Mozambicans.
Shahiem Bell, of SPIN, says: “The youth were extremely excited and we as SPIN executive were proud that our programme had been noticed so quickly. This meant to us that we’re definitely doing something right.
“After some hard work looking around for sponsors to get these boys to Gauteng, we managed to depart on a journey that would give them the experience of a lifetime.
The timing of this event couldn’t have been better, as our message to all youngsters involved is that the opportunities are there for all, they just needed to commit to do the work to take advantage of them.”
By Wednesday evening all vehicles were prepped and ready for the road. The trip was a long and tedious one covering 1 500km while towing spin cars on trailers. The crew arrived in Joburg late afternoon on Thursday, just in time to experience one of Gauteng’s hot spots for spinning events, Wheels and Smoke.
Shahiem says: “It was an experience where the youngsters got to see their mentor, along with other Kaapies, show why Cape Town is the powerhouse of spinning in SA. That evening went very well and got the kids even more excited for the SA vs Mozambique event.”
Friday was testing and making sure the cars were 100% ready, thanks to Marius Oosthuizen of Full Boost Performance, who opened his business to tune the vehicles for the Gauteng climate and the challenges of The Rock in Brakpan. Only then were the cars ready for the event.
Event day Saturday came and the boys were all kitted in their Pertamina Fastron gear, one of the main sponsors along with Don and Clare Vale of Mr Truck Man; Mansoor Parker of Parkers Motor Spares; Anwar van Boom of AVB Transport; Mishaal Daniels; Noer and Firdous Asmodien; WesBulk; Sense Audio Visual and Damon and Sons Construction, all of whom helped out on very short notice.
Sean says: “The event was eye-opening for them, especially as they got to see how other talented drivers handle themselves. They got to witness different styles, as the spinning was a combination of gymkhana, drift and spin all in one.
“As a mentor, I pass on to them the training, tips and tricks I got back in the day at the hands of people like Otto Graven. What’s lekker is that when you see them get it right, it’s like winning in a different way.”
Bobby Nitro spoke to the young drivers. Dylan Peterson puts it simply: “It was mad, I had the experience of a lifetime.”
Wafeeq Oliver, 15, of Westridge, has been spinning for a year and says: “The driving style there was completely different and I picked up a lot of tricks.”
Aqeel Brown says: “It was great. I learned a lot, and their driving was definitely different, not so much freestyle.”
Renowned motorsport MC Vic Pardal, always super amped when it comes to seeing spinning grow, says: “It was so energising seeing guys getting involved at such a young age. With spinning, the cost barrier to entry is lower, and it’s fantastic to see the next generation of spinners coming through, following in their fathers’ footsteps.
“What’s also cool is that these young guys were exposed to the spin superstars. They now have a new crew to look up to, and a different kind of precision driving to aspire to.
“Remember that spinning is uniquely South African, it started here and the world is now starting to pay attention (via YouTube). In fact, it has started up in the United States.”
Vic is thrilled to see the up and coming spinners, saying: “In my top ten list, four or five of them are under the age of 21. So watch this space in years to come.”
These boys have had a first-hand example that reaching your dreams with hard work is possible.
Shahiem adds: “We cannot thank our sponsors enough, as well as those from the spinning fraternity who also contributed what they could to help the boys make this trip a reality.”