July 06, 2010
Stephen Simpson: Cape Town’s humble motor racing ace
Stephen Simpson, who is making a big name for himself on the Indy Pro Series motor racing circuit in the United States (which attracts some 344-million television viewers), is one of the proudest Capetonians you could ever meet.
The 26-year-old, who has lived in many parts of the world due to his racing career, tells Cape Town Tourism that the Mother City will always be his favourite place. “I’ve lived in places like England, Italy, Australia and the United states, but nothing beats Cape Town,” he says with a grin.
Simpson has been thoroughly enjoying the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ experience in Cape Town, and is delighted with the attention it has drawn to South Africa and the Mother City. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the United States and I never heard anyone talking about soccer before this World Cup, but in the past few weeks, it seems everyone there has been following it. So I’m just very glad I’ve been here to be part of it.”
During his travels, Simpson is often asked about Cape Town, by people who have previously never heard much about it. “I always guarantee them that it is well worth a visit,” he says. “I advise them that they have to go up Table Mountain, they have to visit the V&A Waterfront and some of the Winelands, and I also recommend Cape Town for its restaurants and beaches.”
Simpson says Cape Town is a city with much to explore in terms of evening entertainment. “There are so many great little restaurants and bars you can find in places like Green Point and Kloof Street.”
Summing up Cape Town as a destination, he asks: “Where else in the world can you find such beautiful beaches, with a mountain in the background, in a city with such down-to-earth people?”
Stephen Simpson in action on the track
Although he was born in the United Kingdom, Simpson grew up in the Cape Town suburb of Hout Bay, where he still lives outside of racing season.
“Cape Town has so many great areas. I’ve been living in Hout Bay forever and I’ve been thinking about moving to somewhere else in Cape Town, but I’m struggling to chose between Claremont and Green Point,” he says.
As a child, he used to go with his father to watch racing at Killarney, which was where his interest in motor sport began, and where he still goes to ride his go-kart. “I do it to keep in shape when I’m out here. If you can handle an hour or two of solid go-karting, you can pretty much handle anything fitness-wise,” he explains.
At the age of 16, before he even had a learners’ driving license, Simpson won the Formula Ford series in South Africa, which launched his racing career. Since then he has competed in series such as Italian Formula Renault and British Formula Ford. Simpson was South Africa’s main A1 Grand Prix driver in 2006 and was at the wheel during the first event on South African soil that year.
Simpson is very passionate about developing motor racing in South Africa and hopes to generate interest from grassroots level to the top. “I would love to do a roadshow in South Africa next year, where I bring my racing car out here and create a bit of interest. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences abroad and I would love to pass some of this on to young and upcoming drivers in this country who are facing the same challenges I did when I was starting out,” he says.
“We can always do more to grow and promote the sport,” he says. “Imagine if Lewis Hamilton was a South African, or if we could produce a South African Formula 1™ champion like him. We’ve seen how sport can unite people, so just imagine ... “
At a professional level, Simpson believes that fewer categories with more cars on the grid is the way forward for South African motor sport.
“I would love to see more events at Killarney. It’s such a great setting with Table Mountain in the background and the stands are always full. They only seem to have one or two big events there every year though.”
For the 2011 Indy Pro Series, Simpson plans to paint his car in the colours of the South African flag again and hopes to attract a full list of South African sponsors before then.
For more information about Stephen Simpson, visit his website www.stephen-simpson.com.