Drag racing comes roaring to life in Abu Dhabi today with a festival at the Yas Marina Circuit that will see more than 100 cars and motorcycles in action. Top fuel dragster cars, which have 8,000 horsepower and can accelerate from zero to 500 kilometres an hour in less than four seconds, will be the star attraction at the event, with seven other classes of vehicle also involved in the proceedings at the Yas Marina Drag Racing Centre, which was opened earlier this month.
George Case, manager of the drag racing facility, is confident that the first staging of the event will be a hit with spectators, and is confident that the track will stand up well to comparison with facilities in America. "The nicest track in the US is the ZZ Max Track in Charlotte, North Carolina and this [the Yas drag track] is above it," he said. "The fastest track is in Florida, the Gainsville track and a lot of what happens out there depends on atmospheric conditions - at the right time of year with the right conditions, the track here in Abu Dhabi could be faster."
Case hopes that some of the fans at the festival will be inspired to try the sport themselves, something they can do through the drag racing centre, which offers training courses. "There will be two-day schools to teach people how to drive a drag race car safely and they can then obtain their racing licence," he said. Tom Compton, president of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the governing body of drag racing in America, has visited the facility and expects it to be prove popular with the public because the sport has lots of race options.
He said: "The great thing about drag racing is that you can race any car you can think of - we can have a street legal programme [as well as the modified track cars], in fact whatever car you drove to the track [can be raced]." Compton hopes the first staging of the festival at Yas Marina will generate interest among Emiratis keen to become drag race drivers, and says the NHRA are eager to help them. "We will provide training in the various disciplines," he said.
The top fuel cars are likely to draw most of the attention throughout both days of competition at Yas. The two cars which were purchased by Yas Marina will be driven by Rod Fuller and Tommy Johnson Jr, two experienced American drivers, who have enjoyed success in the upper echelons of the sport in the US. The other categories that members of the public will see in action are Pro Mod, 7.5 index, 10.5 outlaw, Superstreet 8, Pro 6, Superstreet bikes and Pro bikes.
The action begins at 6pm today with qualifying taking up a large part of the proceedings, with the competitions in each category decided tomorrow. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org See the Multimedia section for more videos