Thabo Mothibi, Managing Editor, email@example.com
“You don’t know me, I am an engineer, just sold my business, got a few quid, can I help?”
That was the wording in an e-mail from Ian Warhurst a retired mechanical engineer and the force behind the United Kingdom’s (UK) ever-expanding and across the globe turbocharger and turbo parts company, Melett, that has now been acquired by Wabtec Corporation, a United States company.
The e-mail was directed to a certain Richard Noble, a familiar name in the Northern Cape.
For the inhabitants of this province, this electronic interaction was definitely not one of a few quid but in Warhurst having presented what could be a “war chest” in the long battle to get what used to be the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC) spearheaded by Noble back on track.
Undoubtedly too, on the right track for imprinting on desert clay ground the highly anticipated world land speed record of 1 609km/h set for Haksteenpan, which lies some 300km north west of the Green Kalahari’s economic hub; Upington.
Back to the e-mail – Noble must have replied with a sense of relief laced with some bubbling enthusiasm: “I’ll talk to you now because the administrators are literally about to break the car up.”
The halting of the fast car’s dismantling also waved the flag on the project having been extricated from bankruptcy. The woebegone of three months ago has now dissipated and the news of renewed hope for a go at the world land speed record has reverberated across the world amongst land speed fanatics.
“Bloodhound LSR will undertake high speed tests and make its world land speed record runs at Hakskeen Pan (sic) in the Northern Cape, South Africa. We will announce dates when plans are confirmed,” reads the introductory lines on the awe-inspiring www.bloodhoundlsr.com online site.
On the saddle is Warhurst as CEO of Grafton LSR with Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) registered as a business interest offshoot in that added sponsorship is to be sourced in exchange for striking and immeasurable publicity.
Pointedly in Kimberley at the centre of Africa’s southern-most country’s province – the Northern Cape, government’s head honchos and key stakeholder’s of the tourism sector are now charged up and ecstatic.
Premier Sylvia Lucas, Department of Economic Affairs and Tourism under MEC Mac Jack and the entity under his watch, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority (NCTA), are all boisterous in knowing that the province will yet again set another benchmark as an extreme sports and adventure destination.
It was all protocol observed as Warhurst met with Premier Lucas and MEC Jack in Upington on the Friday of 1 March last month.
“To Mr. Warhurst, I would like to say, we in the Northern Cape are looking forward to give him and his team a full cooperation in making this project a reality for the people of the Green Kalahari region.
“It will bear positive results for our children’s future as well as the rest of the world by encouraging them to put more of their time and studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM),” enthused MEC Jack amid his meeting with Warhurst.
Warhurst’s acquisition of what is now the Bloodhound LSR garaged at the SGS Berkeley Green University Technical College (UTC) on the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park in the UK, has not only fueled hopes for a scientific yardstick but economic low hanging fruits too.
“To our business and tourism industry at large, this project means more direct income to be generated and help grow the Northern Cape tourism, create more jobs, improve our service excellency and sustain the economy of the province which is growing steadily as we will be expected to host thousands of visitors who will be willing to witness the history made in the Northern Cape,” asserted MEC Jack.
He also acknowledged and hailed a 1000 of Mier residents that have prepared the dry lake bed at Hakskeenpan, smoothing the 18km race track surface by removing tons of rock and stone by hand through funds from government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The date for the showtime is keenly awaited with the test expected to be undertaken this year and the actual supersonic speed race next year. From sport cable news networks to newshounds of all kind, to the executives with all and sundry included; capturing the moment of sporting history with driver Andy Green behind the steering wheel of the jet and rocket powered racing car – will live beyond the news of the day.
The visit to the bucolic Hakskeenpan we all hope will not be one of a brief love affair with the desert but spark an eternal romance of many a dance under its open blue skies. The authorities are yearning for an everlasting tourism milestone out of this event.
And, it shall be all thanks to an e-mail from a man who is not made of a few quid but known as a British multi-millionaire in Warhurst. The entrepreneur has revved up the Bloodhound dream stirred since 2007.
By Thabo Mothibi
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Thabo Mothibi is a former broadcast journalist (TV and Radio) – with specialist reporting experience; SABC Political/Parliamentary and TRC Teams over a period of five years (1995 to 2000).
One key foreign assignment - is the 11-nation African Connection Rally – overland journey from Africa’s northern-most pole in the coastal Tunisian city of Bizerte to the southern-most pole in South Africa’s Cape Agulhas. From the journalistic years, Thabo then delved into Government media liaison and serving two former Ministers and three MECs. He became the Northern Cape Provincial Government’s first department based Communications Director at Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development - 2008-2010 – where he also served as Head of Ministry from 2003 – 2008.
As a former anti-apartheid activist, his political background and professional training aided him in spearheading the Northern Cape ANC’s 2004 National Elections media and publicity campaign and that of the 2006 Local Government Elections.
Whilst based in Waterkloof in Pretoria -2010 to end 2011, he consulted for Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence, then returned to the Northern Cape in 2012 to date, to consult independently and pursue other entrepreneurial interests in media and communications through KwaVuko Communications and Marketing.
Thabo Mothibi obtained his NQF7 through Wits University’s Graduate School of Public and Development Management (P&DM) in Johannesburg, a Unilever Mandela Rhodes Academy for Marketing and Communications Academy (UMRA). The goal of the NQF7 programme was to educate and train public and private sector professional communicators and marketers in government communications..