Dave Charlton succeeded John Love as the man to beat in South African during the early 1970s and went on to win a number of South African Championships.
Born in Brotton in the United Kingdom, Charlton started racing in 1960 at the wheel of Healey. In 1962 he moved to South Africa, where his parents came from. The first few years there were difficult, Dave resorting to hiring a Lotus 20, racing under the Ecurie Tomahawk banner. He was supported throughout his F1 career by Aldo Scribante after whom the Port Elizabeth track is now named.
He had to wait until 1966 and the acquisition of a Brabham with a Climax engine before he could compete in the local F1 championship. He won 3 three races and finished 3rd in the championship.
In 1967, again with the Brabham, he took 1 victory before deceiding to change to a Repco engine towards the end of the season. This brough himanother win and 3rd again in a championship, largely dominated by John Love.
He qualified 8th for the South African Grand Prix that year before it was abandoned.
The next two years were more difficult for Dave. Hesitating between his aging Brabham-Repco and his new Lola-Chevrolet, he does not manage to find the right balance and his results did not meet his expectations.
At the beginning of 1970, he choose a Lotus Cosworth. His first race being the South African Grand Prix where, in spite of a good 13th place on the grid, he only finished 12th. However the remainder of the season was brilliant. During the 10 rounds of the local championship, he won 7, winning the title of Champion of South Africa for the first time.
The subsequent years were very similar, a mix of the South African Grand Prix and the local Championship. Taking many local victories but not showing well in the main GP due to lack of competetive machinery. Dave sold his Lotus-Cosworth in 1974 and bought a McLaren. He comfortably won the Championship that year, but was lucky to prevail over his new young challenger Ian Scheckter in 1975 and it was his consistency that won him the title with six second places and one win proving enough.
The 1976 season was to see the beginning of the end of Charlton's domination. The championship was now run to Formula Atlantic rules and his Modus did not inspire quite the same awe among his competitors. By mid-1978 he had lost his long-time sponsorship deal and eventually forsook single-seaters for saloons, which he raced into the early eighties.
He ended his career with 5 South-African Championships and no less than 48 victories!