DRAG racing, which is fast becoming one of the most popular events on the local motorsport calendar, will be back at Donnybrook Raceway this Saturday for its first meet of the 2013 season.
The sport, which returned on the local motorsport radar "with a bang" last year and became a major hit among the Zimbabwean motor racing enthusiasts, is run by the Dragpro Club who said yesterday that they were excited to launch their first event of the 2013 Public Drag Racing Series at Donnybrook on Saturday.
And as has been the norm during last season, a good turnout of competitors and motor racing enthusiasts is expected at Saturday's meet at Donnybrook after a relatively long break over the last Christmas period and rainy season.
Susan Zevgolis, the secretary of the Dragpro Club, said yesterday: "Dragpro Club continues to advocate drivers to 'Race the Track, not the Street'
"Dragpro's Public Drag Racing events provide the ideal opportunity to test cars and bikes in a safe, real race environment, whilst improving driving skills and networking with other people with similar interests.
"To those unfamiliar with public drag racing, virtually any car or bike is welcome and motorsport experience is not necessary.
"There are certain regulations and safety requirements which must be adhered to, but these are kept as reasonable as possible so as not to make the sport prohibitive to public competitors.
"Competitors can register on the day between 11am and 2:30pm, giving newcomers a chance to come along and watch and learn, before deciding whether to register."
In addition to the drag racing, a Sound Off competition will once again be held on the same day run by Venom Customs, and at this first event of the 2013 series, spectators will be delighted to learn that they will also be treated to some entertaining and exciting spinning by the well-known and popular Fat Cat, Maurice and Anonymous Spin Kid.
"We are very excited about the year ahead. We have some terrific sponsors on board once again, which makes it possible for us to run a professional series and put up prizes for the top three placed competitors in all drag racing classes.
"Dragpro Club is sincerely grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm shown by its 2013 series sponsors and partners -- HP Lubes/Castrol, Belts 'n' Hoses, RAM Petroleum, Turbo Solutions Africa, Autobusiness Magazine, Faithwear, Spraytech and Venom Customs. With the support of these sponsor partners and following on from the encouraging increase in crowd numbers throughout the 2012 series, we are confident that the Dragpro Club will continue to grow from strength to strength as it reaches out to a wider motorsport audience in Zimbabwe and nurtures the newly-found enthusiasm for the sport of drag racing in Zimbabwe," Zevgolis said.
However, Dragpro Club will open the 2013 season with their members wearing some black armbands following the death of one of the pioneers of drag racing in Zimbabwe - Patrick O'Hara - who died towards the end of last month after a long battle with cancer.
O'Hara competed in drag racing at Donnybrook in his popular yellow Chevrolet beach buggy code-named Dragstar according to the personalised number plates.
Apart from drag racing, O'Hara was also part of former African motor rallying champion Conrad Rautenbach's technical support team at Green Fuel Team.
Zevgolis said the passing on of O'Hara left a big void which will take long to be filled in the sport of drag racing in this country.
"In terms of competitors, we were devastated to lose our Champion of Champions, Patrick O'Hara, when he passed away early this year.
"Regular racegoers will recognise a void at drag meetings with the loss of Patrick in his V8 Buggy and the Dragpro Club has lost a brilliant competitor and personal friend.
"We are, however, expecting to see some current competitors 'up their game' to a degree and we are also anticipating the entry of some very interesting new competition and drag projects as the year progresses.
"So, whether you are an existing racing fan or wanting to find out what all the buzz is about, come to Donnybrook on Saturday, March 2, and witness what is likely to be a fun-filled day," Zevgolis said.
Gates will open at 10am and admission is US$5 per person (children under 10 years get in for free).
In fact, drag racing took the local motor racing scene by storm last year and the final event of the 2012 season, which was held at Donnybrook during the last weekend of November, attracted a record spectator crowd of more than 4 000 and 67 vehicles participated in the drags.
The organisers were actually delighted to note that there was a large number of "first timer spectators" at that event -- an indication that the sport is continuing to grow in popularity in this country.
"We are certain that this is a sign of greater things to come and we expect more competitors to be signing on for the 2013 series, when they realise that this is a sport for the general public where ordinary people can race in ordinary cars, cheered on and supported by a very appreciating audience," Zevgolis said at the close of the 2012 season in November.