” The Chopping has started in our neck of the woods” This is an expression I heard or read (Can’t remember) when the tiding came that a GIANT in Motorsport has left us. One sort of knows that the end will come and that it will bring change into your life, but it’s not a reality right then until it is!

Too often and too easily the word Legend is used when describing someone who has achieved a lot or was appreciated and respected in their sphere of life. I took the liberty of seeking counsel from Google on the word legend. This is what I learned:” An extremely famous orย notoriousย person, especially in a particular field. Notorious for being exact and to the point and legendary for who he was!

The man was a living Legend

I can not agree more. Oom Willie as he was known amongst his countrymen in South Africa and Willy by all our colleagues and friends throughout Africa and the rest of the world was a living legend! A man with a wealth of knowledge in most forms of Motorsport. Be it technical, Regulatory, Sporting or organizing events. The 25 years of the famous SASOL Rally in SA did not just happen by chance. It took a specialized team with great skills and an even better leader to make the roar of S2000s in the Sabie forests possible.

Willie lived and breathed Racing, rally being the diamond in the crown. He did not miss an event be it in SA, somewhere in Africa or Formula 1 on TV. If not as a Clerk of Course, Steward, Time Keeper, FIA Chairman of Stewards then as a spectator. He was keeping a watchful eye on everything. Willie served for many years as Chairman of the SA Rally Championship Committee as well as SA Motorsport Club. Willie was a serving member on the current Steering Committee in SA for Rally.

I have so many memories from my own time walking behind the man I have learned from. In my rooky days, on our way home back from Secunda in 2015, I was passed a piece of paper and tasked to work out an Itinerary. His Long-time friend and colleague Richard Leeke driving, Willie next to him and me sweating like a teenager in the back seat trying to ace a test I have never studied for. Were they testing me? Did they have a plan to teach the next generation in SA Rallying? Today I know, that’s exactly what was happening. I can write a novel with all my memories of times with Willie.

Willie believed in people. Through empathy and kindness, he was a teacher. Not just a teacher of Motorsport but a teacher of life. I for one am always very vocal about the fact that the departed are always made out to have been good throughout their lives. I have to swallow my own words for once. Willie was a good man.

Willie hated seeing people or animals suffer. The countless times I know of him lending a helping hand, making a plan, and phoning someone who can help, all in the interest of others. Yes I know, no one is ever perfect and I am sure throughout his years there must have been the odd adversary forged. How else was the man-shaped into the human he was? I know for certain Willie had 1 nemesis in life, Garlic.

Willie was a man of his time. Well-informed and on the pulse with current affairs. He would always have something to tell me about what was happening somewhere in the world, mostly on home soil. I have never met someone with the skills to formulate Excel Spreadsheets like Willie (My friend Rikus Fourie comes close in 2nd place). Willie was faster than Google when I battled with some formula or another.

I know an even bigger love of Willie’s, bigger than Motorsport and fast cars, the love for his Family. His children Cobus, Elbie, and Hendri, Daughter in Law Annemarie and Grandchildren Amelia and Divan were the axel around which his life revolved around. I want to thank you for sharing your Father with all of us, his motorsport Family. For allowing him to build, teach and live out his great passion in life. You are surrounded by prayers and people’s thoughts in this difficult time.

Oom Willie, I am heartbroken, and so are many others. I already miss your presence, knowing I can not pick up the phone or send a WhatsApp to say “Hello, Hoe gaan dit met MY Oom?” THANK YOU so very much for what you have given me and so many others in life. Now that you have checked into your final Parc Fรฉrme, Rest in eternal peace my mentor and friend and give us a sign if we step out of Line.

2 thoughts on “When a Legend departs

  1. Wat ‘n verlies vir ons wat agter bly…wat ‘n wins vir die Koninkryk. RIP oom Willie.

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