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Illegal car racing comes to Beijing
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-23 05:44

Illegal car racing has become popular among young motorists in Beijing, causing serious concern about safety, the Beijing Youth Daily reported yesterday.

The new development has been linked to gambling, sometimes involving thousands of dollars for each race.

On Friday night, Beijing police broke up a group of enthusiasts of around 50 young men and women near Yizhuang, a southern suburb, who were planning a race, according to the report.

Their cars had apparently been customized specially for the race.

Insiders claimed the enthusiasts are mostly drawn from four categories:

So-called "haigui," a nickname given to Chinese returning from overseas countries such as Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, where illegal racing is popular. They are thought to be the pioneers of the new craze.

The second group contains high-earning company bosses, who like driving fast as a form of relaxation.

There are also car-repair workers, who organize the races with the aim of promoting their services.

Finally, there are race enthusiasts who have no opportunity to participate in formal competitions.

The racers usually choose a square or a wide road as their racetrack.

The vehicles involved in the illegal racing are usually sports cars that have been refitted, such as Ferraris, Porsches and Audi TTs.

Referring to the increasingly popular activity in Beijing, an official from the Federation of Auto Sports of China warned it might lead to accidents. He urged enthusiasts to race on formal tracks after registering with his federation.

A professional racer in Beijing had a similar opinion.

"Generally, customizing cars at home will not meet professional standards in terms of safety, which means the sport is very dangerous," he was quoted by Beijing Youth Daily as saying.

"If you like the sport, receive some training and get the proper qualifications first."

(China Daily 01/23/2006 page3)

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