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1978 South African Grand Prix

Citizen South African Grand Prix

Saturday, March 4, 1978
Hot, dry and sunny
Fastest Lap:
Andretti, 1m17.09
South Africa
1978 season:

Peterson saves the day for Lotus

Kyalami, March 4th

At one time the South African Grand Prix was a very happy affair and almost "olde tyme" in its make-up, untroubled by any of the pressures and disease brought on by progress. It was completely self-supporting in that the money paid by the spectators covered the cost of organising the event, with some left over for the club kitty. The increase in the size of the Formula One "circus" and the rise in transport costs have grown out of all proportion so that over the past four years income from the spectators could no longer balance the cost of a World Championship Grand Prix and outside financial help had to be sought. This meant that the South African Motor Racing Club were no longer their own masters as far as the Grand Prix was concerned and this year the search for financial benefactors to bridge the widening gap between income and expenditure caused alarm until a few weeks before the event. The South African newspaper The Citizen and Associated Engineering Ltd. eventually came to the rescue with enough money to add to the expected gatemoney, to pay the bill for twenty-one Formula One teams, some with three cars and an army of personnel, others with one car and a handful of people, to make the journey to South Africa. Because of this undecided state of affairs until the last moment, certain work needed on the circuit to comply with FIA Safety Standards, was not put in hand until late in the day. There was little point in spending money on armco barriers, catch fences and run-off areas for wayward Formula One cars if there was not going to be a race; for National Formula Atlantic or Saloon Car racing the circuit was adequate.