Drive for racing spot

2014-05-20 00:00

AS police seemingly lose the battle against illegal drag racing in Pietermaritzburg, and dragsters take to the suburbs dodging police at every turn, there is a strong push from the motorsport community for the city to provide a suitable — and legal — venue.

A legal drag racing fanatic, Jayshree Sookdahoo (46), who is popularly known as “Sweetie” among the drag racing community, holds the national record of 11,1 seconds on a quarter mile.

She believes a legal track for drag racing would help prevent fatalities in the city.

“I am against illegal drag racing and support the idea of providing a designated place because we have a number of people already participating in drag racing in the city,” she said.

Sookdahoo said this would ensure safety for residents and racers.

She was speaking in the wake of complaints by Allandale residents that illegal drag racing was rife in their area along Old Greytown Road.

“We fear for our safety because these people don’t warn us they are racing and at night they drive in two lanes; this is a disaster waiting to happen to unsuspecting motorists,” said a resident who did not want to be named.

Sookdahoo said illegal drag racing takes place in Allandale and Victoria Road.

“This is dangerous because there are trucks that drive there at night and so we need the municipality to provide land so we can have a legal venue.”

She said for the city not to provide a track was also costly for them because they travelled to Stanger, Mtubatuba, Tarlton (Johannesburg) and Newcastle just to “burn rubber”.

“It is expensive, so to save costs on travel and accommodation we need to have one in Pietermaritzburg,” said Sookdahoo, who drives an Audi S3, TERRI-ZN registration.

Msunduzi Municipality speaker Babu Baijoo stressed that it is illegal to race on any public road and urged those involved to stop it.

“We understand that it is a growing sport in the city with about 3 000 motorists who are keen drag racers; that is why the ANC caucus has identified four venues that we are considering leasing to the drag racers,” said Baijoo.

He said if the municipality does not provide a track they would be as guilty as those participating in drag racing. “We also know that to legalise this sport will have economic spin-offs, not for the municipality but for the community.”

Baijoo said this would not have financial implications for the city because they would just provide a venue for the drag racers to develop.

“Why should KwaDukuza and Mtubatuba have race tracks and we do not have one? We are committed to providing land to avoid fatalities that could be caused by illegal drag races,” he said.

Witness motoring editor Alwyn Viljoen said while the municipality was still looking to provide a suitable venue, they should change their tactics in efforts to control drag racing in town.

“My suggestion is to close off the last section of Victoria Road from Boshoff Street past Eddels every Friday night, with patrol cars on both ends to ensure an open road, and a speed trap to show drivers how fast (or often slow) they actually go,” he said.

Viljoen said illegal drag racing is on the increase, and that drivers are irking local residents, in Northdale especially.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said Mountain Rise police were aware of incidents of drag racing in the area. “Police have combined disruptive operations together with RTI and NPC and also deployed members frequently to disrupt such activities, however, the people involved move from one place to another,” said Zwane.

He said drag racing is common along new Greytown road. “No fatalities and no injuries have been reported. No one has been arrested.”

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