1963 London to Cape Town January 19th
Accidents, bandits, delays, interrogations at gunpoint … Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers had experienced almost everything imaginable that could stop them beating the London to Sydney record. As they approached the South Africa border, they were pretty sure that they wouldn’t be able to sustain the average miles-per-hour they needed if they were to be successful. They were looking forward to getting to the passport control at Beitbridge so that they could borrow a piece of paper and a pencil!
In Petrol in My Blood, Eric writes:
“I’d left school at fourteen and Ken had been expensively educated so this meant that neither of us had a hope in hell of doing any accurate mental arithmetic.”
And once they’d done their sums, things didn’t look promising. They decided to remove anything from the car that was causing excess weight – water cans, petrol containers, spares, tools, sand shovels, clothes, oil – they threw it all away, much to the delight of the customs officials who leaped onto the unexpected gifts. Little did our daring duo know though, that their action would be badly misinterpreted.
Now, with a badly-abused but lighter car, they were ready to set off on the last leg. Eric writes:
“We had to cover the next 1,700 miles in about twenty three hours if we were to make it. ‘Let’s go, Kenneth’ I said. We could not believe the difference. The car went like stink. A hundred miles an hour was soon achieved!”
But if you’ve been following the story so far, you’ll be pretty sure by now that this last leg wasn’t going to be without incident …