Did you know that Daniel Pienaar Technical High School in Kariege (formerly Uitenage) is one of only three schools in the world to offer motorsport as an extramural?
The sport was introduced at the school by Sparky Bright, Chairman of the Safety and Technical Panel at Motorsport South Africa, whose son Chassen is a former Dan Pienaar learner. Chassen held the MSA flag high, earning South African Protea colours in motorsport after becoming a three-time South African national and seven-time Eastern Cape Regional karting champion.
Chassen currently works as an aftersales specialist for Hyundai Motorsport in Germany. Sparky maintains that the opportunity opened for him thanks to his attendance at Daniel Pienaar because the school imparts knowledge that serves learners in a number of industries, including engineering, motor mechanics, and many others.
Several other former Daniel Pienaar learners have gone on to make their mark in the industry. From Ashely Pape (a current matric student) who was recently invited to timekeep at a national championship event in August, to Ashley Bezuidenhout (also a timekeeper who currently navigates for Nick Davidson), Marise Roos who used to navigate for Neels Vosloo, and Ruan Gerber who has navigated for Andre Bezuidenhout and Jacques Louw. It’s worth noting the number of female learners who have gone on to take part in motorsport after their introduction at Daniel Pienaar – a sign of the school’s efforts to promote female advancement in the sport.
The school’s team is managed by Francois Vermaak, who races under the school’s banner with his colleague, automotive teacher Paul Ludeke, and whose passion for the discipline means he is always looking for new ways to get the team more involved. Motorsport is, in fact, one of the streams in the school’s Mechanical Technology Department, and so students are not only exposed to racing as a sport; they also learn about diagnostic systems and other theoretical components.