The immortals: The Vic Prestons were mad about motor sports

The Prestons Photo: Courtesy

The KCB Safari Rally has seen one family dominating it, the Rai family with Onkar Rai Tajveer Rai and Rajbir Rai.

They remind one of another rallying family, the Vic Preston family, who not only operated the Vic Preston Shell Petrol Station along University Way, the largest at the time, but also carved their immortality on roads of motorsport, specifically, the Safari Rally.

This motorsport mad family also dominated motorbike racing with the most famous blood relations being the father and son duo of Vic Preston Snr and Jr.

Vic Preston Snr: The one-time chief judge of Concours d’Elegance was a Safari Rally champion, first taking part in the inaugural 1953 East African Safari Rally then called the Coronation Rally.

Co-driving DP Marwaha, Preston Snr finished first in Class ‘C’ in a Tatra T-600 car manufactured in the Czech Republic.

This rally which had no overall winners and all cars were showroom pieces without modification allowed. Entry was Sh100. Preston Snr went on to win the rallies of 1954 in a VW Beetle and in 1955 in a Ford Zephyr Mark I with Marwaha as co-driver.

His passion for motorsport started at 17 when he won the Grass Track Challenge Cup at the Sikh Union grounds for three years in a row to 1949 and on his way to being the twice Motorsports man of the Year to 1961. The husband of Jane Preston and father of two committed suicide in 1998.

His body was found in a bathroom adjacent to his bedroom, a pistol in hand. There was no suicide note.

Vic Preston Jnr: His life revolved around motor sports becoming a champ, like his father and with teams including Ford, Lancia, Audi, Porsche and Nissan.

Receiving a Kawasaki motorbike for his 17th birthday

— the family controlled the local franchise

— saw him dominate bike racing over obstacle races in Nairobi and Nakuru.

Vic Preston Jr was a household name in Kenya in the palmy years of the East African Safari Rally which he first entered in 1966 aged 16 in a Ford Cortina GT and co-driven by Gerrish Robert.

He finished 80th and in a career spanning 24years ended with the 1990 Marlboro Safari Rally when he retired at position 11 over suspension problems in a Nissan 200 SX co-driven by John Lyall.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sde.co.ke


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