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Bruce Johnstone raced a Volvo PV544 in local events during the late 1950s and results included fourth place in the 1960 Pietmaritzburg Six Hours. He came to further public attention by finishing sixth in the Formule Libre South African Grand Prix at the end of the year when driving a Cooper T43-Alfa Romeo.
The 1960/61 South African Championship was run to Formula 1 rules and Johnstone continued with the car. He only lost the title to defending champion Syd van der Vyver at the last round when forced out by a puncture.
He drove Reg Parnell’s Yeoman Credit Cooper T56-Climax in the 1961/62 season. Fifth in the Rand GP, Johnstone crashed during the Natal GP and while practising for the South African GP with the car too badly damaged to start.
Opportunity with BRM
The summer of 1962 was spent working as a mechanic at BRM in England and he made his European racing debut in the Nürburgring 1000Kms when sharing Ian Walker’s eighth placed, class-winning Lotus 23-Ford with Peter Ashdown. He was then entered in a third BRM P57 for the Oulton Park Gold Cup and Johnstone stayed out of trouble in a race of attrition to finish fourth.
He won the 1962 Rand Nine Hours at Kyalami sharing David Piper’s Ferrari 250GTO before driving for BRM in that year’s winter F1 races. He impressed in the Natal GP by leading Jim Clark during his heat before finished second and retiring from the final. The South African GP was granted full championship status for the first time in December 1962 and Johnstone’s BRM P48/57 came from the back of the grid to finish ninth and last.
Just 25 years old, Johnstone stopped racing and ran a business importing Yamaha motorcycles to South Africa. He later retired to Cape Town.