By Adnan M.S. Fakir and Golam Rezwan Khan
If we can call driving around in a second hand badly patched Japanese car on broken dilapidated roads in the midst of billions of other vehicles and people - underground racing - we must be a seriously delusional race of people. But weren't we always like that? Remember the time when Metallica was cool and making bands were the latest groove in town? So it's pretty natural when the really awesome "Fast and the Furious" came out and every kid with money to burn wanted to be a 'racer'!
Of course, no matter how rich your daddy is - you can't expect him to buy you a Ferrari! I know what you are thinking… you deserved that Ferrari right? Anyway, then the poor 'rich' dudes, who fell in love with this movie and its umm… cool bald actor Vin Diesel, decided "IF I CAN'T HAVE THAT $40,000 FERRARI I WILL MAKE MY OWN FERRARI!" and that is where the glorious era of underground racing started! Long Live the Ferraris!
Although all of you might not have heard about Underground Racing, it is now the 'in' thing in town. This Bangladesh's new groove started after the release of the heavily admired movie, "Fast and the Furious" and the game "NFS Underground." Both the game and the movie popularized the concept that racing could be done in cities using tuned up non-racing cars.
Most racing occurs in Friday, after the Jummah prayers. That is the time when the average Bengali takes a nap and all the rickshawallas watch Bangla cinema, which means the road is literally empty. Racing also occurs early after sunrise, or during hartals, which is pretty amazing. And for a few nutters out there, after midnight… which is by far the 'coolest' time to drive. We managed to actually experience the experience, and feel the wind rush over our face, the glowing lights of Dhaka zooming past us, but we later realized that we were still too young to die! Anyways, most racing occurs in the Uttara area - along the high roads, to Gulshan over to Dhanmondi and the University elaka. Rumours are that they also had a circuit in Bushundhara, but they were kicked out after one race. According to most racers however, the best place to drive is over the flyover! They literally fly over the flyover…!
(Haha! Get it? Flying over the flyover… ummm, okay, bad joke). Anyway, we warn our readers that 'best' doesn't mean 'safest' so watch out!
Now we come to the interesting bit THE CARS! Despite being a poverty stricken country we have cars worth a couple of million bucks… and it would amaze you to know that people actually use these cars to race! The following lists the fastest cars in town still alive, moving and not yet wrecked. Check them out: the grand blue BMW M3 that pulls like hell with a braking system of 100 km to 0 km within 2 seconds. The Sparkling green Nissan Skyline GTR, the deadly silver Mercedes CL55 and one of the best looking tuned up orange Nissan 350Z's with a Veilside body kit! That's not all folks… we continue with the silver Honda S2000, the majestic Mitsubishi Evo VIII white rally and the blue Lotus Elica.
However, of all the cars we saw, the best one of all was a dazzling Porsche 911! A Porsche 911! Just like the ones you saw in the legendary NFS Porsche Unleashed. And let's not forget the (red) Dhakaiya Ferrari….one of the first customized cars around. However, not everyone who wants to race can afford these beauties. So most of them settle, for slightly/heavily modified Toyota Corollas and Family Sedans…which frankly don't last long in the heat of the races. And of course there are some cars that are nothing but scotch-tape on wheels - you know what I mean. Among the nuttiest cars out there, nothing takes the cake other than the super-riced Blue Honda Civic which is literally a laughing gas… that's nitrous oxide…
in other words NOS. Yes, we have NOS in the city, which is thought to reach speeds above 250 km/h! However the guy who owns it has enough sense not to use it… bless him!
The most common of actual "sports" cars zooming in our country (other than the modified Corolla bhaji and stuff) are Alcazars and Celicas. Then yet again there are the howling cars well what can I say, installing howlers and using it to expel one's anger is a very unique and new idea. Also with their (mostly common) Pioneer subs and Kenwood amplifiers acting as their sound system (for which they usually spend around one to two lakh takas), you can accurately hear their (car's) heartbeat, as well your own going ballistic should you suddenly get too close. Trust me, with most of the underground cars having these installed, you're bound to notice them!
You might think, that racing just means driving around madly in the city. But there are various category of races which our "sonar chelera" have developed and practice. The following enlightens this premise:
· SPRINT RACING: which means you have to get to a finishing line before everyone else (that's really original right?)
· DRAG RACING: These are races, which take place in a straight road. The typical place where these are held is the Airport Road. There are no turnings and the might of the cars are tested. It's simply brute power vs. power!
· CHASING: Its just as the names suggests - one car chases another, around the city… until it either gets too late to stay out, or until the drivers get bored of it…·
TIME LIMIT: The object of this race is to reach a certain destination within a certain time limit.
· COPS AND ROBBERS: This is by far the most exciting of the races. In this race, one car "the fugitive" gets a head start and goes into the city to "hide" somewhere. Then after a while, three other cars head out, to try to find and trap him! It's more like a three-on-one duel!
Where to get the Goods
For those of you who want to become "racers" take a hike and check out NOS in Gulshan and R-Style in Tejgaon, which has the best body and performance kits in Dhaka. The best reconditioned sports cars are available, imported, at Motor World. But please… before becoming a racer… just take a hard look at your life… and then go and visit a psychiatrist. If you still think you are up to it only then take a shot at it at your own risk.
As cool as it may be… underground racing, we again say, is extremely risky. Wear your seat belts (cause if you don't, your airbag won't activate and you will DIEYEAH that's a fact). We advise extreme caution to the racers, and take this opportunity to mention that there have been and often are serious accidents and casualties. So unless you really don't want to kill yourself before 25, take your caution….this country needs you!