It was one Saturday evening when I was invited by a friend to go to Calamba, Laguna (Philippines). I was informed that I am going to witness “The Fast and The Furious” Philippine-style. I met my friend at Shell, South Superhighway and then he asked me to ride with him. His car is a Honda ESi with an exotic candy red color, neuspeed lowering spring, full exhaust system and with modified engine. Inside are Pioneer stereo system, audio bank amplifiers, Sl woofer and scosche-efx wires.
I was supposed to ask him a lot of questions about to what expect in street drag racing but my voice was overpowered by JaRule, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg booming from the speakers. We reached Calamba, Laguna at around 12 midnight. A gas station near Letran College located at the national road of Calamba was the meeting place. The other racing teams were presentâ€”Speed Monsters, Gravity Zero, Coolriders, Extreme, Lowriders, Zschnell and Hyper. All types of car were there from the old model of Toyota Corolla to the latest model of Lancer. All unusual colors were present: pearl metallic red, purple pearl, sky blue, fresh mint green and golden flakes yellow to passion orange.
The national road was so crowded with spectators and you won’t even think that what will transpire in the place is illegal. The owners and spectators were mostly teenagers from middle to rich families considering that they can afford to set-up their cars. The police were present at the roadside asking everybody to go home but racing teams waited for the police to go before they started racing or as they called it “trangka”.
A teenager from Gravity Zero approached one owner from the Motor Sports One. The teenagers start to check each other’s car. “Karga” was the term being used to know the modification or set-up of the car whether it is stock (factory /original) or modified.
Negotiations were being made on what start system to use. It can be a Flagman, Horn system or same start at the line. In this race, the Horn system was used in order for the other motorists to know that a drag racing was being held at the national road. A plus system was also mentioned in which a head start was given to a less fast car. In case of a false start, same is waived if both vehicles entered the second gear and nitrous oxide (pindot) is considered as cheating equipment. Winner must win 2 out of 3 races. “Pusta” or bet was also negotiated in which a winner can get as much as ten thousand pesos. (Or sometimes they don’t get anything, just the feel of adrenalin rush!)
The police was gone! And the spectators started to line up at the national road. A Honda ESi car was pitted against a Toyota Starlet. A fat man was holding a flag to signal the start of the Drag Race or “bitaw”. No plus or head start was given to either car.
Then it’s “trangka” and the spectators were clapping and shouting. The first hit was a false start, since both vehicles did not enter the second gear. On the second hit, the Honda Esi won and when it came back at the starting line everybody were clapping. Members of the Motor Sports One Honda Esi Team were giving high five to each other in a festive hip hop mood. On the third hit, it was very clear that the Honda Esi won but the Toyota Starlet team was protesting, saying that it wasn’t clear where the finished line is? After a long argument, everybody started to loss their temper. Then the oldest member of the Toyota Starlet team decided to give the prize money to the Honda Esi Team.
After Calamba, the next the destination was Sta. Rosa, Laguna. This time the racing place was near a well-known subdivision in Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road. But the police was heavily guarding the place and the racing teams have no choice but to look for other venues. During the joy ride, they were discussing other possible racings venue such the Sucat Road in Paranaque, Regalado and Mindanao Avenues in Quezon City, the C-5, Ortigas Avenue San Juan and Marcos Highway in Cainta.
The teams settled to race at Ortigas Avenue. The pearl metallic red car from Speed Monsters with the plate MARKY was given a three-car head start by the green Civic Honda Hatchback of Grupo. Within five minutes, both teams raised a certain huge amount of money and the race is on. The red lancer with only a full exhaust system as its modification beat the full race Honda set-up of the other team. It seems that driving skills is enough for a 2-0 win over the Honda.
Then, in the wee hours of the morning, the Maxpower’s white Honda Hatchback was challenged by a green Honda City of a father and son team for a race in Mindanao Avenue. It turns out that the father/owner works for the Quezon City Hall. No wonder this illegal and dangerous game is not that easy to wipe out.
The City was given a 10-car head start on a condition that if the team of Manpower found nitrous oxide installed in the car they are going to pay double the best, meaning P14,000. After the first hit, the Maxpower members searched for the nitrous system in the winning car and found the bottle hidden under the backseat. This prompted the Maxpower to demand for the bet money from the father and son team. The latter promised to give the money after getting a fill at a gas station. Maxpower agreed but suddenly the City and its companion-cars sped off towards different directions!
It was really an exciting and breathtaking evening. It was my first time to experience it, and I was really flabbergasted that what happened to the Vin Diesel movie was actually happening in the streets of Laguna and Metro Manila. And I was stunned how fast a Toyota starlet can go but I was really afraid about the safety of the driver. The street racing team drivers are more concerned though of setting up their cars. They are definitely prone to accident.
Aside from the adrenalin rush and the prize money, I really do not know what other benefits they get out of doing this dangerous game? Do parents know what their teenagers are doing in the wee hours of the morning in some deserted road? How about the police, are they doing anything about this public safety hazard? Others may argue though that drag racing is a better alternative to getting hooked on drugs but there were reports about devastating car accidents caused by illegal drag racing. That’s what is truly a drag.