Illegal street racing, aka "dicing", has been catapulted into the media spotlight in recent weeks following the death of Lord Rulser. The 30-year-old was killed after his car spun out of control during a race, which was originally thought to be part of a legal event but was declared illegal at the last minute.
Motoring enthusiats gather to relax and socialise at a peaceful 'hookup'.
So, in the spirit of gonzo journalism, 24.com slung a video camera over my shoulder, waited for the sun to set over the Cape Flats and sent me to the streets.
Organizing a contact who knows the streets and the racers wasn't as difficult as I expected, but organizing a "run" - what a race is known as on the streets - wasn't as easy as I hoped it would be. It took two weeks of emailing, confirming, cancelling, praying, until the night finally arrived.
Meeting at a petrol station near to the racing venue, I realized that what was supposed to be a private run between two sets of cars turned out to be quite a big congregation of mostly VW and Honda aficionados. My contact didn't seem too chuffed about it either, but once word gets around there's little to nothing one can do.
Whether it was the excessive petrol fumes or the overflow of testosterone, adrenaline surged through everybody at the rendezvous point, and when the fellas (as well as a couple of ladies) get "giere" - the impulse to race - there's only one way the evening will end, with a winner and a loser.
After a short drive to the race location, about 20 cars had lined both sides of the bridge above the road on which the drivers were to put their modified machines to the test. But it wasn't long before someone stuck his head through our open window and yelled "Cops!".
It seemed as if the police had been waiting for us when 10 seconds later three Metro Police VWs came roaring (with all their bells and whistles bellowing) to our location, one of them gesturing for my contact to stop and get out of the car. There are few things in life as scary and yet exciting at the same time as being surrounded by flashing blue lights and subjected to the full mercy of the law.
My contact, however, seemed to find this old hat. In a matter of seconds he had managed to evade a fine and possible arrest, and we were on our way back to the original meeting point.
These days it has become increasingly difficult to race without being detected by the police. I was told that not long ago all you did was move from venue to venue when the cops showed up and dispersed the crowd. So that's what we did. Our crowd moved to the next venue.
Major roads with bridges overhead appear to be the favourite spots for street racing. Spectators get a bird's eye view of the race while the drivers get a straight stretch of a fairly decent road to navigate.
But our second location too proved disappointing; no sooner had we got there had then the police rocked up. One officer even appeared to be trigger happy, going so far as to remove his firearm from its holster.
Converging again on the nearest petrol station, the boys began discussing their next location. But when traveling in such a large group it's difficult to dice without arousing attention or suspicion. And by that time almost everyone's "plak had sakked" - the charged mood had dissipated.
So home I went, disappointed and frustrated.
Watch the video of what I had managed to get on tape, as well as daytime footage of a VW taking on a Porsche on Cape Town's streets.
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Although it might seem fun and exciting, street racing is illegal if consent is not prearranged by the local authorities. 24.com does NOT condone any illegal activities.
Big up to Black Noise for the use of their single "Global Ghetto". Visit http://www.blacknoise.co.za, http://www.emileyx.co.za and http://www.healthehood.org.
Hanging at a 'hookup'
Prior to my night running with dicers on the streets of Cape Town, I was invited to a "Hook Up". Essentially these happen once a month when members of car clubs such as the HondaBoyz, Xtreme Veedubz, Street Freaks, Beemerz and Opel Clan; as well as the TRD and Playtoyz clubs (to name a few), get together at a prearranged venue capable of accommodating at least 100 cars to "lam it out" - chill or hang.
Most of the Street Freaks, Honda Boyz and Veedubbers feigned innocence saying they didn't dice or do any of that "other illegal stuff". Many were more than happy to casually chat to a fresh-faced young lady such as myself, while others regarded the camera in my hand with much trepidation. But a few fellas put their mouth where their revs were.
All those who said they diced claimed to do it on a relatively secluded road when the fine line between evening and morning is blurred. It's usually when large crowds are involved then the "shit hits the fan", I was told. The reasoning? Large crowds = large egos = show offs. This translates into unnecessary "performing" - when drivers do tricks with their cars - which leads to uncontrolled and often dangerous situations.
Dicing gone wrong...
This kind of behaviour has been (fairly and sometimes unfairly) attributed to the younger generation. The older crowd claim the "laaities" - youngsters - perform with blatant disregard for their lives and the lives of innocent bystanders. A few Xtreme VeeDubz members were quite adamant that these kids give car club members a bad name, and that not every VW driver is a hooligan on the road.
The rest of the evening went by without incident. Cars rolled up to be inspected, guys turned on the charm for the ladies, engines were revved, jokes were shared, and then I had to put my revs where my mouth was.
So, I strapped myself into the passenger seat of a suped-up VW, put my trust and life in the capable hands of the driver and prayed I didn't wet myself...