Collin Matiza Sports Editor
THE Zimbabwean motor racing community gathers at Donnybrook Raceway in Harare on Saturday for the 5th round of the National Championships, but this will be a race meeting with a difference.
Sponsored by Toyota Zimbabwe, this will be part of worldwide celebrations to mark the 50th birthday of their iconic Hilux, the world’s most successful pick-up truck. However, it also marks the end of an era as this will be the last race meeting before Ian Howden steps down as the Managing Director of Toyota Zimbabwe.
Howden was bitten by the motor racing bug while growing up in Harare, but it was only after serving his apprenticeship with Toyota South Africa that he was able to pursue his passion.
Sporadic outings in a Cortina were followed by a Toyota Conquest, but it was at the wheel of a BMW 325iS that Howden really made his mark, memorably pulling off an audacious passing manoeuvre on Gary Kirk as the latter cruised to what he thought was an easy victory.
Howden’s promotion to Managing Director at Toyota Zimbabwe allowed the family to return to Harare, bringing with him a Subaru WRX STi which he used to great effect, winning the Zimbabwe National Saloon Car Championship.
After trying his hand at karting, Howden found himself at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evo for several attempts at the Zimbabwe Challenge Rally, which, with help from him and his team at Toyota Zimbabwe, was awarded the trophy for best organised rally on the Africa Rally Championship calendar.
In addition to his performances on the race tracks and rally stages, Howden served as a member of the Sables Motor Club committee in Harare and helped to not only organise race meetings, but to improve the facilities at both Zimbabwean race circuits, as well as promoting safe driving through the local high schools.
With full grids in all of the Sports and Saloon Car classes, as well as visiting South African Superbikes riders, Saturday’s race meeting promises to provide a fitting farewell to Howden.