Long drive for drag racers

KWAZULU-NATAL drag racers are having a hard time finding a venue to race their souped-up cars.

Yesterday president of KwaZulu-Natal Motor Racing, Kas Moodley, said all efforts to secure a venue close to the city to race their modified cars have proved futile.

The race car enthusiasts at the club, which has 1600 members, say they have to travel more than 500km every weekend to an old air strip in Mtubatuba to race their cars - a move that is pushing more and more drivers into illegal racing.

Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele this week called on law enforcement agencies to put an end to illegal drag racing. This follows the death of three people during a high-speed road crash in Pretoria on Sunday night.

"We will even assist to arrange legal races, but illegal drag racing will not be tolerated and those who engage in such activities will face the full might of the law," Ndebele said.

Moodley said Durban, a drag racing hot spot, had the most dragsters in the country, but the least amount of venues on which to race.

"We sent in a proposal to Airports Company South Africa to use the old Durban International Airport and we have not heard from them yet. That airport would be a perfect venue for drag racing," he said.

Durban International Airport, with a 2,4km runway, was decommissioned in June last year after the opening of King Shaka Airport in May last year.

Moodley said KwaZulu-Natal Motor Racing was the only club in the country that offered free membership in an effort to minimise illegal street racing.

Illegal drag racing hot spots in Durban included areas of Umbilo, Chatsworth, Prospecton and Umgeni Road where racers take to the road in illegally modified cars with non-standard components to increase the engine's power.