Pakistan has a widely recognized reputation for two things – cricket and hockey. The people of this country are largely poor and signs of this can be seen everywhere – from the rickshaws that clutter the streets to the rustic living conditions that many deal with. Auto racing is certainly something that most Pakistanis have only ever seen on TV. All that may be about to change as fans get ready to enjoy auto racing events in Pakistan.
Lahore played host to a brand new, exciting auto racing event on Sunday when various flashy, privately-owned sports cars were gathered for the first official auto racing event in Pakistan. Not content to sit and watch the excitement only on international TV, various young South Asian men have decided to break free from old sporting traditions and start racing. Auto racing in Pakistan is not a new idea – it has been carried out somewhat illegally for a little while now. Drag racing has always been discouraged by both local communities and the government due to the dangerous nature of the sport. But now it seems that all that is about to change. Persistent pleading from a few of the country’s racing enthusiasts has led to the government rethinking its stance on the sport. They decided to sponsor a day of drag racing and the result was Sunday’s proceedings in Lahore.
Most of the cars are owned by the country’s elite who have already been gathering in Lahore and Karachi for a couple of years in order to showcase their vehicles and race them in un-sponsored events. Now, with the government’s backing, fans of the sport can make the most of auto racing in Pakistan. Even those who are unable to afford a vehicle can finally experience the thrill of watching from the sidelines with the smell of smoke, rubber and fuel thick in the air.
As the Corollas, Datsuns, Nissan R35s and Mazda RX-8s competed for the fastest time, enthusiastic onlookers decked themselves out with name brands like Ferrari, Honda and Corvette. One of the biggest crowd pleasers was a striking, fire-red Corvette C6, owned by Syed Raza Ali Gillani. Almost sixty men tested their vehicles down the quarter-mile track. Each was allowed two runs in their attempt to clock the fastest time and claim the trophy. The event was a massive success and it seems that now that the eyes of government authorities have been opened to the potential this sport has in the country, it might well flourish under their encouragement. Only time will tell.