CURBING ILLEGAL RACING: Despite efforts from the City of Cape Town to keep racing on the track, there are still those who seek the thrill of illegal street-racing. Image: Reynard Gelderblom
Cape Town - Wheels24 reported in December 2015 that the City of Cape Town, working with Killarney Raceway, launched a new initiative called Robot Racing. According to the City, the events are a bid to curb illegal street racing.
Since then, the track has hosted two editions of the event - which is always packed with spectators and racers who want to keep things legal and take part in a safe, and organised fashion.
Are the events making a difference? Are illegal street racers declining?
View: 'Robot racing' at Killarney: 81 great pics!
The City of Cape Town's Alderman, JP Smith, shares his views on Robot Racing and whether it's effective.
Smith says: "I often feel that drag-racing enforcement actually makes the matter worse. We can't just do nothing because the public complain to us intensively. I have people who call me at 3am and ask me 'Can you hear this? Good, because I can'.
"There are people who don't allow me to forget they are suffering it. People in Ottery, people in Lotus River, in Parkwoord who listen to that on old Strandfortuin Road."
"The public don't let us walk away from this", says Smith. "But I think the enforcement actually enables it. I think it becomes part of the cat and mouse game that some of the drag racers so desperately desire. Without that, where is the need for speed fantasy?"
How much of that has been brought to Killarney?
"The enforcement is only going to take us so far. That's why I made that shift. We can't just relinquish the roads to people who are doing reckless and negligent driving, but I get an idea we're exasperating the problem.
"So the killarney thing was an attempt to saying to the guys here's a viable alternative; 'you don't have to race on the road'.
"We will allow you to make admission to close the roads, but they don't want to do that, they want it to be illegal."
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According to organisers at Killarney, Robot Racing is aimed at replicating illegal drag-racing on Cape Town streets albeit in a safe and controlled environment on the established drag-racing strip at Killarney.
The controlled events usually take place once a month on Wednesdays from 6-10pm, at R50 a pop at the gate - spectating or racing.
Race organisers said: "In essence its drag racing for street legal cars, but without many of the frills of formal drag racing and certainly at a considerably lower cost. Racing will take place when two competitors line up at the robot and will be sent off when the lights change from red to green.
"The winner will be the first car past the robot at the finish line. No official times or results are going to be issued by the organisers but bragging rights are all important as participants will be able to challenge each other and then follow it up with a run down the strip to establish whose car is quicker.