Taming the night racer

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NAIROBI, Kenya, February 1st – In deep slumber you are awakened by the highly charged sounds of fast cars from a distance, and clearly this is not someone heading home after a long day at work.
Under the cover of darkness, several young lads have waited for the streets or the highways to clear and are now racing their super charged and modified cars.

In definition, street racing is a form of unsanctioned and illegal motor racing which takes place on public roads. Street racing can either be spontaneous or well-planned and coordinated. Opponents of street racing cite a lack of safety relative to sanctioned racing events, as well as legal repercussions arising from incidents, among street racing’s drawbacks

These street racing junkies, with some extra cash, have invested in fast machines and high-tech engine power boosting gadgets and accessories to push their need of speed in the dead of the night.

It’s already attracted a cult following among the well heeled young guys who instead of moving from bar to bar in the name of fun, they have committed themselves to pursue another type of self entertainment.

These drivers take advantage of the fact that at night, traffic police are not on duty, thus taking charge of sections of the city streets and roads to commit this dangerous form of racing along Waiyaki way, Mombasa Road, Peponi road and James Mathenge Rd among others around the city.

With the various fatal scenarios that this type of racing would attract, one local motorsport enthusiast and national rally driver has come up with a noble idea…to take these night racers and enlighten them.

Speaking to Capital Fm Sport, Ben Muchemi who has displayed his passion for rallying through his participation in the local rally championship says it took the loss of a friend during one of these street races for him to come up with the idea.

“A friend of mine, who worked along Mombasa Rd had been working late and he called a taxi cab to go take him home. As he waited at the spot he had agreed on with the cab driver, he saw a car coming towards him. Thinking it was the taxi he stepped nearer to the road to hail the driver but was hit by the speeding car which was not the taxi. Later on is when we found out it was one of those night street racers who hit him as they were competing on the same road.”

This immediately struck Muchemi as situation that needs to be remedied before it gets out of hand.

“As a member of the Kenya Motorsport Foundation, we and the rest of the board quickly had a sit down about the matter as it touched abit on a sport governed by the foundation itself and looked at the problem. So we have come up with “The Subaru Challenge” an option for this adrenaline seeking drivers to come speed on a controlled track but more importantly to stop them with this illegal activity and make them abit more aware of the dangers of this way of racing.”

Already several deaths and damage of property have been reported, including the death of two young drivers, participating in another night street racing session along Valley Rd near Integrity Centre last year.

Its alleged that this sessions attract high stakes of money that can command up to Sh300,000 thus attracting a lot of attention from young youths wanting to lay claim to such hefty amounts at a very high cost.

According Muchemi, who is directly involved with the upcoming rally event says they have involved the traffic police who have committed to assist in this campaign, to stop street car racing.

“We have spoken to the relevant authorities in the traffic department and they will play a role in making this campaign a success. They will provide stickers that will make the awareness out their more of a reality.”

In support of this we will also include all genuine and approved rally drivers to support the awareness of this dangerous racing and they will carry on their personal and rally cars stickers carrying the message ‘Rally Drivers Do Not Drink and Drive.’ We have also instructed them through their group Kenya Rally Drivers Association that during rally competitions, they have to drive their cars at a certain speed when either on transport or recceing before and during rally.

In view of also helping curb this menace Muchemi added that they acquired alcoblow devices and several speed guns that we will use in collaboration with the police to catch over speeding and drunk drivers and prosecute them.”

Muchemi added that with the ratification of the above by KMSF board, council and rallies commision  more action will be taken if the guidelines are not followed. Drivers who do not keep the 110 Kph speed limit will be fined. If he/she does not desist then a disqualification will be quickly administered to any form of competition.

So far a handful of the street racers have already confirmed participation in the Subaru Challenge which is not restricted to Subaru cars only as the name describes.

They will be educated on various aspects of rallying including, navigating, route safety, car safety etc. Besides the awareness part of it they will get a shot at racing on the revered mortorsport course where they will compete on pairs for the top honors on the 1.5Km track set by the organizers.

Participants will race in a head-to-head format. After a series of heats, each driver’s average time will determine whether they proceed to the next level or they are eliminated.

The event be held at Jamhuri Park from 9am and is sponsored by Safaricom.

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