Drifobia: Japan vs Saudia Arabia vs Pakistan!

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Word’s aren’t arranged to describe these nations. Anarchy, on the streets is their favorite sport. May you be in Saudia or Japan or Pakistan, folks love the absence of law on their streets especially when they are behind the wheel of their ride. Even if law is there to abide them, anarchists will pursue them. Frankly speaking; it should be the other way round but it isn’t. Takes matter of seconds for the anarchists to disappear in the darkness of night even in a technologically advanced Country like Japan.

I won’t get into the history about how street racing started, because then I would have to go back 8 decades in time and come forth. But it did have something to do with lack of money to access the rings to settle their adrenaline for speed, sound of engines & the scent of burning tires, then there was chaos. The streets were inarguably the place where they were no rules & Marshals; one could do anything with a car and get a decent round of applause for his ‘stunts’. Make name or as time evolved, make ‘Respect’ (Thanks to NFS for giving us the appropriate word).

Different countries have different sorts of Motor Sports done on the streets illegally. Like, USA’s official Street Racing anthem is a V8 singing Drag Racing, Japan’s Official Street Racing anthem is tires crying out loud “Drifting”.

Whereas Saudia Arabia has many kinds based upon different Cities; Tafheet, which is a form of Drifting in which you do insane speeds on FWD cars then go sideways, this sport is quite profoundly performed in various cities of KSA but roots out from Riyadh. Then you move a bit more in KSA towards Qatif City where they practice Tokyo Drift as well as Burnouts. For the boys of Qatif City, ‘show-off’ is non-existent in terms of displaying cars, its all about skills. The more hardcore you go the more respect you get. NYTimes reporter did a report on Tafheet;

“Some young people, asked why they risked their lives this way, said it was because of “tufush,” a colloquial Arabic word whose meaning is said to derive from the gestures made by a drowning man, and which is translated roughly as idleness and desperation”.

For the Saudi officials, this sport has transformed into menace at midnight till dawn claiming lives and limbs of many Saudi youngsters. Even the fatal accidents that occur in Saudia Arabia during drag racing or tafheet are treated as Homicide cases. One famous case is quoted from the report of NY Times:

“The famous case of Faisal al-Otaibi, 27, a drifter who was sentenced to death after his car crashed during a joy ride in 2005, killing three teenage boys he had taken along with him. The sentence was reduced this year to 3,000 lashes, 20 years in prison and a lifetime driving ban.

Since the arrest of Otaibi, who is always known in the Saudi news media as Abu Kab (meaning, roughly, the guy with the baseball cap), the Saudi police have cracked down on drifting, treating all deaths that result from the practice as criminally negligent homicides”.

Drifting refers to a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers causing loss of traction in the rear wheels through turns while maintaining vehicle control at a high exit speed as said by the Japs. The Automobile layout of the cars used in drifting in Saudia is FWD(mostly) and Japan is RWD, different but the overall definition is somewhat insane(similar).

Now the billion dollar question is, ‘What is the automobile layout of the cars used for drifting in Pakistan?”.

Sometime in 2009, a private TV channel organized an event by the name of “Drift 360”. First of all we Pakistanis should stop falling for ‘something is better then nothing’, or we will be ripped by everyone more and more and more. The event itself did not made news on the streets, except for the TV Channel that had it organized. The reason it could not achieve popularity was due to the fact that all-wheel-drive cars and HELL! even bikes participated. Later, an Evolution even got some prize for God knows what and yes! we also saw Civic in a “Drift” event. You can view the video of the event by clicking here.

TDCP arranged a Drag event in Lahore as well, with no safety precautions taken for the public. The public themselves were standing as the concrete walls that should have been there to protect them incase of a mishap. They rather should begin with something that the masses can compete and enjoy, i.e. 24 hours of Lemons,even such a event does not compromises on safety.

Japan did not cure it but evaded this problem by recognizing the sport officially and organizing official events and the world speaks for the D1 competitions itself. Saudis on the other hand failed to do so and now it poses a problem to the authorities, because Tafheet grows bigger as every night passes. Pakistan, is in a no win no loss situation currently, since the illegal street racing is very limited when it comes to cars since not everyone can afford Petrol. Bikes are a separate and a much bigger issue, and the only solution to this problem they have found is challans and that’s all but a better solution is at hand by just recognizing the sport and offering a proper platform

Pakistan is in no way following by will the footsteps of Saudia but it is driven in wrong direction. Our country needs to have a circuit in the range of the masses. Make them official, and instead of whining like nannys, urge them to do it the on circuit instead of forcing them to kill their thrill and sport which they won’t ever surrender. Educate them and they will tame themselves on the roads. Pretty simple solution for both the maniacs on bike and in car, which will also gain us access to an entire new industry. This industry can also prove vital in creating the much needed own Auto-industry but I guess we have to wait for the Pakistani edition of Robin Hood.

Baber K. Khan

An auto enthusiast trying to bring car media mainstream.

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