The Prince George Circuit is a track using public roads in South Africa. Just southwest of the city of East London, it is often referred to by the city name. It has hosted the South African Grand Prix a number of times, but as a championship round only thrice. The track is something of an anachronism, maintaining the facilities, but still allowing public traffic upon it's entire length.
The original circuit was 23.4 km (14.5 mi), running over a variety of public roads southwest of the city proper. Called the "Marine Drive" circuit, what was intended as a local race eventually attracted several entries fleeing the winter weather in Europe.
The modern circuit was opened in 1959. It is boomerang-shaped, running clockwise along the sea front, with mostly right hand turns and incorporates small sections of the 1934 and 1936 circuits.
The pit straight is just over half a mile (0.8 km) long. It ends with a sweeping, 60° righthander called Potters Pass Curve. It is followed by a shorter straight, that in the Grand Prix days ran between sections of a shooting range. The straight was never given an official name, but was frequently referred to by wits as the Target Straight. An even gentler right, taken pretty much flat out, was called Rifle Bend. This led to an even shorter straight where the cars brake heavily for the tight Cocobana Corner, a 120° sharp right leading onto the Beach Straight. This straight runs about 100 meters from the ocean for about 1⁄2 of a kilometer, and at about 4⁄5 distance the cars would hit Butts Bend (actually named for a local) that could be flat out, but is the braking point for the next section.
These are The Esses, a tricky right-left combination that takes the track around a small arroyo. After a very short straight the cars go left again at the fairly slow 90° Cox's Corner, then head into the trickiest section of the track. Almost immediately after Cox the cars enter The Sweep, a wide-radius 90° righthander leading onto the Back Straight. Even though the straight is less than half a kilometer, the combination of the Sweep and straight can lose or gain time easily. At the end of the Back straight is Beacon Bend, a tight 160° righthander leading back onto the pit straight. Car placement is critical through Beacon to set up for maximum speed in the run all the way to Cocobana. The entrance to the pits is just after Beacon on the right, but if faster cars used the track nowadays pit in would probably be moved to just before the corner.
The circuit itself is almost unchanged since the F1 days, but the area has, somewhat. All of the roads are still open to the public. The rifle range is gone, replaced by a nature preserve. A small subdisivion has been built inside the Cocobana corner, but far enough off of the roads to allow for racing (the noise is another story). A twisty road section has been added, on the ocean side of the track, between The Sweep and Butts, likely for use by go-karts and motorcycles. And along the Back Straight is the entrance to a public water park, built on the rocky cliff a few meters above the water, probably to compensate for the lack of beaches in the vicinity. But the local sports cars and small formula cars still have meetings, a few times a year.
The following is a list of South African Grands Prix held at the Prince George circuit. Non-championship events have a rose background.
|Year||Winning Driver||Winning Constructor||Report|
|V T E||South African Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Prince George Circuit (1934–1963), Kyalami Circuit (1965-1993)|
|Championship Races||1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986–1991 • 1992 • 1993|
|Non-championship races||1934 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1960 • 1960 • 1961 • 1966 • 1981|