Fast And Furious In Baghdad: The Amateur Motorheads Organising Races In Iraq
There are no official race tracks in Baghdad but car fanciers in the capital are organising their own events in the suburbs – this includes racing, motocross and even burnout parties. And they are more popular than ever.
The roar and throb of motor engines is loud and before the race begins, the audience, made up mostly of young men – there are only a handful of women here - starts to chant for their favourite drivers. It is like a scene from the motoring action film, The Fast and The Furious here, where NIQASH was accompanying Mohammed Salem, 24, to a monthly amateur car race held in Baghdad's Jadiriyah neighbourhood.
On the way to the race in his car, Salem had made phone calls to other racers and auto enthusiasts to make sure they were going to be there.
“It would be such a good idea for the government to sponsor this race,” Salem says enthusiastically. “It attracts so many people and it could generate a lot of income. This is a global sport,” he declared.
At the racetrack, the cars are marked out in bright colours and flags in order to differentiate them from each another. Some of the drivers were also doing driving tricks known as burnouts, causing their tires to smoke, or driving around in close circles.
Salem explained that in order to race the cars’ drivers must customise their cars, making various improvements. “There are no real racing cars in Iraq so you need to change some aspects of a normal car in order to be able to be race,” he told NIQASH.