Bay racing legend bows out

Lifelong passion for sport remains, Celso Scribante tells Athena O’Reilly

Celso Scribante is retiring from racing at the age of 74 after a fascinating career
Celso Scribante is retiring from racing at the age of 74 after a fascinating career
Image: Eugene Coetzee

His father used to say: “In order to be a good winner, you have to be a good loser”.

This was one of the sentiments Celso Scribante carried with him throughout his racing career – and now, as he embarks on retirement from the sport that has been in his blood for more than 50 years, he said he would still be hanging in there.

For the 74-year-old Port Elizabeth racing legend – who was meant to retire last year after winning his Class A championship – it has been “very hard to say the word retirement”.

“Racing is in our blood. My dad [Aldo senior] started it, even though he was a pretty average driver. He at one stage was an SA champion. Technically his driver won but they raced as a team and managed to come sixth in the world championships.

“He had a passion for motor racing and obviously we carried on that passion. And of course this sparked my interest and I was very keen to start my motor-racing career,” the construction businessman said.

A visibly emotional Scribante – who will take on the role of team manager to his sons Aldo jnr, 47, and Silvio, 46, as of next year – kick-started his gokarting racing career at 21, following his uncle Franco’s fatal motor accident.

“I wanted to drive my dad’s cars and unfortunately for me he had just lost his brother in a motor accident and he told me to forget racing. But when I turned 21 he bought me a gokart and said I should rather do this form of racing, which I did until I was 48. I then retired and got my two boys involved,” Scribante said.

“I supported them in karting and two years ago we bought two Audis – for saloon car racing. I had never done saloon car racing – last year was my first year – and when I wanted to retire last year I was told to defend my title this year, which I did.

“The last two years I have been racing and initially when we bought the Audis one of my sons told me I should be racing with Aldo, almost like ‘payback’ gestures. But it is now time for them to race together and take this thing forward,” he said.

“I have achieved what we set out to do so at least this year. I am going out on a high.”

The grandfather of four said while he was still enjoying the racing very much, he needed to ensure the baton was handed over to the next generations.

“It is tough retiring but I feel I must do it for my two sons. They are very good drivers, we’ve been at it long enough and there’s not much I can still teach them.

“They have also won numerous titles in karting so them continuing is definitely them continuing the legacy.

“My daughter Francesca is also an avid driver and is doing very well – she is pretty quick.

“My 14-year-old grandson is also keen on getting his motor racing career started.”

Scribante’s father built the Aldo Scribante Race Circuit on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth near Coega in 1973.

A mechanic by trade, Scribante said: “There are no two ways about the fact I will miss the racing, the urge will always be there. My passion is still there heart and soul.”

He said the best car he was able to drive was his current Ferrari F12 Berlinetta V12 6.3L.

“This car is a monster – you have to respect that power – this is my fourth Ferrari. What I like about this car is that with the brute power it has, it can stop.

“The first one we got was my dad’s. We still have it in the family as a collector’s item – a 1969 Ferrari Dino – and I still have the invoice at home.

“It came from Italy and it cost my dad £12,000. I still remember it coming off the ship and landing on the dock.

“I was with my dad and obviously it is not an easy car to drive so he told me to use it until I bought my own,” he said.

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