Squealing rubber, raging engines, dizzying revs and enough smoke to choke up a freight train, the sport of Spinning is bursting out of the underground motorsports world and making a name for itself. Here is all you need to know:
The longstanding and popular motorsport was born in the townships of Soweto, South Africa, as a ritual to honour fallen gangsters during the Apartheid era. Fast forward two decades later and spinning has transformed to become Africa’s biggest motorsport.
The motorsport of the people is a wild mix of drifting and personal expression, which involves drivers locking their car into a spin and then – amid screeching tyres and clouds of smoke – climbing out of the car to perform moves on the bodywork or even hang upside down from the window with their head just millimetres above the ground.
For Spinners, the key goal is to entertain the crowd with their high-octane theatrics, and expensive hi-tech cars aren’t needed to achieve this; however, a classic BMW 325i is still the pinnacle choice car for serious contenders.
Spinning is the pride and joy of the spinning community and is deeply rooted in South African culture based on what has been happening for more than 30 years.
“In pure, simplistic classification terms, Spinning is the art of controlling chaos while creating entertainment, just like theatre, while drifting is a motorsport governed by a strict set of rules and formats.”Sportive Director of Red Bull Shay’ iMoto Vic Pardal says
“It’s a culture and a movement, and yet, it’s the only motorsport that covers all races and faces. Traditionally, it was used as a celebration of life at people’s funerals and for certain other celebrations and purposes which were beyond the law. As long as there have been rear-wheel-drive cars in South Africa, people have been spinning. Still, spinning is very different today to what someone’s uncle or grandfather was doing years ago in recreation centre parking lots.”Pardal explains
“It’s pretty much a travelling circus, where we, as the paid performers, travel from town to town and entertain the masses.”Spinners have become performers out to entertain crowds and Pardal adds
The 2021 Red Bull Shay’ iMoto event was held on September 11 in Johannesburg and saw young Nelspruit local Samkeliso ‘Sam Sam’ Thubane as the latest star to emerge after winning the 2021 title.
The country’s top spinners battled it out in Jozi, with Sam Sam edging out Boksie in a no-holds-barred final battle that had the judges on the edge of their seats.
While spinning isn’t traditionally a competitive motorsport, Sam Sam‘s thrilling 2021 victory should help grow the sport even more worldwide alongside the exciting global drifting movement.
Despite the competition, there’s a strong spirit of camaraderie amongst the drivers. Because for them, it is not just a sport, it is a culture that binds them together. And from the young to the more experienced, they have all had a hand in building the status of Spinning in the country and expanding the imprint beyond borders. The next step: get the sport on the world stage.