Racing site identified

2015-03-17 00:00

IF all goes well, regular, legal drag racing could be taking place at Mason’s Mill.

The Msunduzi Municipality has moved a step closer to legalising drag racing by identifying a site where the motorsport could take place legally.

The old bus depot near Mason’s Mill, Edendale, has been identified as a temporary site.

A proposal for the drag racing venue is likely to be tabled before executive committee members for approval this Thursday.

Michael Chetty, a member of Illegal to Legal — the racing organisation that put forward the proposal — said they have been trying to get council approval for the past 13 years.

Dr Ray Ngcobo of Msunduzi Economic Development Services said they have decided to regulate the sport.

“The sport is quite popular in many parts of the city, especially in the northern suburbs. It is happening in areas not zoned for it. It is not regulated and we felt that it needs to be regulated.”

An applicant, Dr Ngcobo said, had put a proposal forward to use the site. “If the agenda allows, the municipal manager will table the proposal this Thursday. The site will be temporary as the municipality searches for a permanent area for drag racing in the city.

“The applicant will lease the site and there will be conditions imposed.”

He said the applicants will be responsible for all activities associated with the event. This includes putting all security and crowd control measures in place.

Dr Ngcobo said the municipality is not looking to make money off the sport. “This is part of our investment in sport and recreation.”

In January last year during a meeting with ANC leaders, an estimated 3 500 motor sport enthusiasts gathered at the Nedbank centre in Raisethorpe. They appealed for a drag strip for the city.

Msunduzi Municipality Speaker ­Babu Baijoo said the ANC leadership had honoured promises it made to the people.

Chetty said once the site is approved, several millions of rands will be invested in it to make it suitable.

He said the racing is likely to take place on Saturday and Sunday ­afternoons.

“The people who are part of the sport will have to pay [for using the site] … Once it is working, it will curb illegal street racing. The law will come down hard on those still racing on public roads when there is an area for it,” he said.

Racer and organiser Enver Kikia said: “There is a shortage of racing areas in Pietermaritzburg and that is why many kids engage in illegal racing.

“The Mason’s Mill site is perfect. It will need a bit of work.”

He said enthusiasts will still find it even more appealing when it is legalised. “That the sport is currently illegal does not make it more exciting, it makes it more dangerous.”

A racing enthusiast who asked to remain unnamed said legalising the sport was a good idea.

“I think it would be better to have a legal and controlled strip because when cars pass us at 200 km/h it is scary, especially if you’re parked just one metre away. But it’s all in the fun and thrill of it, that’s why I still go,” he said.


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