Racing extravaganza is scheduled to start this weekend after seven years; while organisers claim to have got the go-ahead, city police deny giving green signal
The much-awaited annual carnival of racing enthusiasts, Quarter Mile Drag Race that has remained off the tracks for the past seven years due to several technical problems, is likely to veer into a rough terrain of controversies this time too.
While around 500 racers from across India are gearing up to drive their mean machines at full throttle down Nice Road this weekend, the city police is not looking very keen on giving green signal to the 'speedfest'.
No green signal
"No one has approached us. As per rules, any club wanting to host such an event needs to get the City Police Commissioner's permission.
Once the permission is sought, we take all aspects, including security, into consideration, before accepting or rejecting the plea," said Sunil Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law & Order).
Besides, the traffic police are also vocal about not allowing any drag race in the city whether it is authorised or unauthorised. "I haven't even heard of the event.
They need the permission of the jurisdictional police. But officially, the commissioner needs to give his nod after internal consultation," said M A Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic).
The organisers on the other hand are battling tooth and nail to make sure the event kicks off without any hitches.
Pradeep URS, President, Motor Sport Club of Karnataka, said, "We have got all the necessary permission. The area of the race comes under the NICE Road and Ramanagar is the jurisdictional police station.
We have spoken to the Superintendent of Police. We are an authorised federation and we are going to keep all the safety precautions in mind."
Ray of hope
While the captions of city and traffic police look little interested in the fest, Ramnagar Superintendent of Police S B Bisnelli has come the rescue of the organisers.
"They had approached me two days ago. But I had directed them to the city police commissioner for approval. However, the venue of the event is a dead road and has no traffic. We are ready to provide protection also, if they ask for it," said Bisnelli.
Asserting that the club has necessary experience of successfully organising big events like the 'Race to the Cloud - Nandi Hills race', the organisers assures that nothing would go wrong.
"Racing is shown in the wrong light. We have taken all safety measures.
An official scrutiniser approved by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India would be testing all participating bikes and cars before the race," said the President of Motor Sport Club of Karnataka.
Many veteran racers are scandalised by the response of the city police. "These officials opposing the event should travel abroad and see the kind of encouragement that the government and police department offers to young racers.
We believe in safe riding. Since people have developed a wrong notion about racing, we don't get sponsors. I am excited about this event and I stand by the race. It is going to be a brilliant competition," said Zubair Ali Jung, superbike champion who has been racing for around a decade.
And Jung is not alone in the fight of keeping the city's racing extravaganza alive. Many others like veteran racer Baban Khan (49), who has spent 33 years of his life racing, are looking forward to the incident.
"I am excited about this event, my job is to race to success and I'll concentrate on that instead of the controversy over permission. Bangalore would be racing after seven years.
We are confident of giving a tough competition to the racers from the rest of India. It would be good to see all enthusiastic new age racers during the event," said Khan.
Asked why the race could not be organised for the seven years, Khan said that earlier they used to have drag races at Jakkur Aerodrum, but a few years ago the authorities suddenly disallowed private organisers from using their space.
"All across the world drags happens on a 402.34 meter stretch which has to be followed by at least 1 km dead stretch to cut down speed.
As 0the organisers could not find a suitable place for the past seven years, it was impossible to them the event. Fortunately, they have got a stretch on Nice Road that fulfills all the criteria for a drag race like event," added Khan.
According to the police, the process of granting permission for such events has been made more stringent over the years. "There were many accidents happening and youngsters were getting hooked to racing.
We recorded an increase in driving rashly on city roads often inspired by drag racers. This is why the rules were made strict," said an official.