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South Africa’s leading touring car driver since 1963, Basil van Rooyen twice raced in the Formula 1 World Championship when it visited that country.
He qualified John Love’s antiquated Cooper T79-Climax in 20th position for his debut in the South African Grand Prix on New Year’s Day 1968 but retired. With backing from STP, van Rooyen drove a Brabham BT24-Repco for the rest of the South African F1 season. He won the non-championship Bulawayo 100 and benefited when Love retired to win at Pietermaritzburg.
Van Rooyen switched to a McLaren M7A-Ford for 1969 and won first time out at Killarney. He qualified an impressive ninth for the South African GP but again retired. He won for a second time at Pietermaritzburg although hopes of the South African Drivers’ Championship evaporated with a practice accident at Kyalami in May. His tyre punctured at over 160mph and van Rooyen injured his back when thrown clear.
Lucky to be alive and with his car written off, van Rooyen did not appear in F1 again. He continued to race in saloons and Formula Atlantic before retiring from the sport in 1977. He immigrated to Australia during the 1980s and now lives in Sydney, New South Wales.