The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, the oldest race on the off-road racing calendar, which has grown from a small nondescript event into a major feature on the Botswana calendar second only to soccer, will be held next week from June 13 to 15.
This year, the race, which will again be organized by the Four-Wheel Drive Club of Southern Africa and sponsored by Total, will have Three National Off-road races: cars, bikes and quads, and have three separate routes for each so as to keep the race safe.
“So far, we have 185 entries in total, and this year we will have 15 spectator points,” said Skean Drummond, the Financial Planner of the First National Bank South Africa.
According to Drummond, these three 1000 km routes, which will be available to the three nation races are expected to give the spectators plenty of opportunity to see the competitors passing. He said the competitors will be completing a grueling 500 km per day.
“They will have to deal with deep sand, rocks, thorn trees, mud, river crossing, not to mention cows, donkeys and chickens on their way,” says the release.
This year, the organizers will be working closely with the Botswana Tourism Board (BTB) who will be assisting them to monitor the 120,000 odd spectators.
“The BTB will also be coordinating the government resources that are made available to the event to manage the spectators along the routes as well as to manage the press and media releases,” said Keitumetse Setlang, the BTB Public Relations and Communication Manager.
“We use this race to improve and raise awareness on Botswana tourism, and we’ve realized that the race has a big economic impact. We have also partnered with a local Event Management company in organizing a festival, which will be held at Hatsalatladi where the main campÔÇôsite will be,” said BTB Acting Marketing Manager, Mmammidi George.
Though there will be a festival, George assures that liquor regulations will stand. “This festival will not be a night long bash, which means it will have to stop at the stipulated time. Those stalls which will be selling liquor will also have to follow the liquor regulations.”
This year’s line-up of entertainers at the festival, he said, is made up of only traditional local artists.
According to George, this year they have the waste management programme in place, which will ensure that the environment is left the way it was before the race.
“Usually, after this race, there are some damages done to the routes; therefore, there will be inspection of the roads, which will help us correct where it has been damaged.”
There will be an entrance fee to the main camp and this fee will go to Hatsalatladi Community Development. The villagers are also expected to have food stalls and sell to the spectators hence generating money for themselves.
The Government of Botswana has pledged their support by providing the service of 600 of their police force and traffic officers to make this a safe event. Government also made available the services of the Defense Force helicopter to be on stand by for medical emergencies. The presence of the Botswana Police will be to help control crowds while ensuring their safety as well as to see that the routes are safe.
The Four Wheel Drive Club of Southern Africa has been the organizers for this race since its inception and are extremely proud of their achievement to date. The organizing team and the 200 officials for the event are all volunteers and do this event because they are passionate about off-road racing.
This year, there will be about 500 competitors from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho and Swaziland. About 120 000 spectators are expected along the route every day of the event, and there will be 200 officials and marshals.
The public is urged to stay within the designated spectator points to avoid confusion.