racing at Rainbow Drag Strip
dates : 27th June 2004
1st July 2004
Drag racing is the fastest
growing form of motorsport in the world right now, thanks to
cult car movies like The Fast and the Furious.
Illegal street racing has been going on since the second
motorcar arrived in this country.
At drag strips all over the country there has been a concerted
drive to get racers off the street and competing in a
The 400-metre stretch of tarmac used by drag racers at the
Rainbow Strip near Alberton is the oldest drag racing venue in
South Africa. Competitors have been burning rubber here since
the strip opened way back in 1967.
A serious drag racer like Gavin Wilkins has his work cut out
preventing wheelspin. With something like seven hundred and
fifty kilowatts fed through to the rear tyres on his Ford
Sierra XR8, this car can wheelspin at over 200 kilometers per
hour. This is a 1984 classic in mint condition. And the
five-point eight litre Ford V8 engine has had thousands of
rand spent on it over the years.
Every single component is specially made for drag racing,
including the dual stage Nitrous Oxide system. When Gavin hits
both nitrous buttons in the cockpit, there’s an
instantaneous two hundred and twenty-kilowatt power injection.
This fully street legal Ford covers the four hundred metres in
under eleven seconds and has an officially-tested top speed of
two hundred and ninety eight kilometers per hour.
The weird and the wonderful at a legal drag race just gets
weirder. This is true in the case of Louis Lima's Nissan 1400
Louis' bakkie started out as a legal street machine, but these
days Louis no longer pretends that his Nissan is anything
other than an out and out racer. Using a two comma two-litre
Mazda engine with a massive turbocharger and dual stage
nitrous oxide, this Nissan is the fastest pick up in South
Africa and one of the fastest in the world.
It runs the four hundred metres in eight comma six seconds
with a top speed of over two-sixty through the timing lights.
That's when Louis can find enough traction, even using those
massive drag slicks.
Bringing a semblance of normality to the drag scene is Rob
Green's supercharged BMW M3. Now this is a car that you would
expect to go fast, and indeed it does. Rob was testing out a
new GPS timing system on his car, which gives data readouts
all the way through a run.
This mighty BMW is an 11-second car and one of the interesting
tidbits from the GPS read out was that it covers zero to one
hundred kilometres per hour in three comma eight seconds.
Colourful cars, colourful people, that's what drag racing is
all about. There’s a delightful informality about a drag
meet, unlike circuit racing where everyone seems to take
themselves much more seriously.
Supercharged Chevy V8s, rotary-engined Beetles, and what seems
like an endless stream of modified Nissan pick-ups.
That's drag racing for you!
Car Torque is