One of the most popular race teams in Eastern Cape motoring circles, the father-and-son combo of Neil Stephen and his two sons Geoff and Jono, will be going all out for top saloon and Index honours in this weekend’s Three Hour endurance race at the Aldo Scribante race circuit at Port Elizabeth.
The Ford and Friends race meeting at the tight PE track will be huge, including the PE 200 motorcycle enduro , the PE Three Hour car enduro, as well as a series of sprint races, for a bumper weekend. Historic racing is also huge in the Eastern Cape at the moment, and with 55 entries in the historic sprint races the organisers are having to split the classes, as the track is only licensed to accommodate 36 cars in any single race.
The Stephen crew are once again entered in the PE Three Hour in their highly modified Golf, running a two-litre motor, a car that began life as Geoff Stephen’s 1300 cc road car over a decade ago!
This car has seen Geoff Stephen notch up a string of victories in the EP and Border championships going all the way back to 2008, when he was crowned Modified Saloon Champion.
It has become a tradition for father Neil and his two sons to enter the PE Three Hour, a race meeting that is a traditional season closer with a history that goes back nearly two decades now. The field attracts all manner of modified saloons, sports cars and historic racing cars and embodies the true spirit of classic endurance racing as seen in the 1960s and 1970s in South Africa when the classic Nine Hour at Kyalami and the Springbok Series of Three Hour races were held at circuits acorss the country in front of huge crowds.
In the PE Three Hour, the Stephen family are four-time winners in the First Saloon category. And in each victory, the team has consisted of father Neil, Geoff Stephen and his older brother Jono, who has also showed himself to be a fair hand at rallying over the years.
As for Neil Stephen, at the age of 62 his problem seems to be that he doesn’t seriously realise that he is in fact a “toppie”, to use one of his favourite expressions.
Neil’s racing career goes back well over 40 years, when he started karting in Pretoria, alongside another great name in karting, his childhood friend Ed Murray. Neil was the 1978 Class 100 Stock South Champion in karting, and a decade later he emerged as a member of the Delta Motorsport team to win Class E in an Opel Kadett in the fabulously popular Group N category.
Neil remained a stalwart member of the Delta team for half a decade, claiming two more titles, being crowned Class D Group N National champion in 1990 and Class B National Champion in 1991. He was also very successful in endurance racing at that time.
Incidentally, Neil is the uncle of multiple South African Production Car and karting champion Michael Stephen, and naturally this makes Michael a cousin of Geoff and Jono. You could indeed say racing runs in the Stephen family.
It should be noted that the Stephens prepare their amazingly successful Golf on a shoe-string budget out of their modest home workshop in East London. This family of racers have been creating a REAL legacy of motorsport achievements, based on hard work and passion, with a minimum of smoke and mirrors when it comes to seeking publicity.
“We aren’t here for the glory,” said Neil Stephen. “It’s just an amazing way for a father to spend quality time with his sons.”
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