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Wanna race? Use the track!

Why be reckless and put others in danger? There are other ways to go mad.

06/07/2013 07:37 | Comments: 

Contributing editor

Sipi is a fairy who hangs above us like a huge, ever-smiling, men’s fragrance-smelling umbrella. He can be called anytime, anywhere to lend a helping hand, and he’ll be there in an hour with one of his Transits for sure. A dangerously maniac car collector (the street in front of his house is full of his vehicles), a radio-control and model car freak, Sipos is a Swiss knife made of human flesh. Totalcar is just one job amongst his zillion occupations, but he endears it the most. Lives with a girlfriend and two dogs.

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An illegal event organized by a Lada-club in Debrecen shocked the public. It’s not that there were Ladas and other cars drifting in a roundabout, but they did it in heavy traffic, in front of hundreds of people.

What the organizer, an existing, registered and well-known organization, did was spreading the news on Facebook and other forums: “Let's meet there and have some fun”. The event was a mess: there were no barriers, no organizers, no ambulance, nothing. And as everyone was welcome, wannabe racers and TV-crews showed up too. In a matter of hours images of cars uncontrollably spinning just a few metres away from dozens of spectators were all over the internet.

Newspapers and TV stations were spreading the pictures and videos of the event. Some of the cars and drivers were later identified by police and ticketed for reckless driving.

Our colleague, the ever high-spirited Steve Valyi wrote an article on the topic. It generated huge indignation amongst the readers. Some were saying that the guys at were irresponsible, the drivers were reckless, and the event could easily have caused the third world war or a nuclear holocaust. Others were making comments that all the whining critics are just pussies, and real men should drift their cars wherever they want to. Some were stating that drivers of Ladas are all rednecks, who can't afford a real car. Others said that the only people who were against such events were snobs and people who couldn't drive.

Well, I wasn't surprised that the article caused such confusion.

Somehow the organizers didn't get that the fact that they were driving Ladas was beside the point. No one in their right mind would look down on the other merely for driving a Lada. Not just because it would be car-fascism, but because real car nerds are well aware that the difference between a Lada and a Lada can be tens of thousands of dollars.

The Lada brand is important in this case because the ex-Soviet cars of the Tolyatti manufacturer are easily available and tunable, and even twenty-some years after the Iron Curtain came down there are still many of them on the streets. There are several thousands of performance-tuned, pimped, factory-restored, rear wheel-drive, and mint and rat cars on the very strong Hungarian Lada-scene. The point is that the event was an organized chaos, posting constant danger to the spectators.

I can perfectly understand that people having high-octane fuel in their veins, inhaling non-burned hydrocarbons simply want to have fun with their cars. So do I. But I would never have dared to kick the clutch in a roundabout with hundreds of people standing at the edge of the road, screaming, and only seeing what's going on through their cameras and phones. Sometimes it really doesn't take much to kill or “just” disable someone (no cars weighing tons were involved in this case!). I simply feel safer when no one is around when I'm testing my driving skills. If there are spectators, I prefer having experts around who are able to help should something go wrong.

There are lots of ways of letting your horses run free while not putting your car, your own or someone else's life at risk. One solution is participating in a track-day event. Fortunately, after our article, causing fierce reactions, was published, a few guys in the Eastern-Hungarian area took action: together with Rabocsiring, a local race track, they quickly organized the First East-Hungarian Track-day. Now everyone can see that it doesn't take much more than enthusiasm, will and a little work to make it happen. We lent a helping hand, of course: not just by advertising the event, also by participating. It was important for us to see how things work.

Well, I must say, there is no reason to put your driving license at risk anymore. If it only takes two months to create such a great event without having any former experience whatsoever, it just doesn't make sense for well-known clubs to organize illegal races. Add up the costs of losing a driving license and paying tickets, and you'll find participating in a track-day event is a lot cheaper. Ok, it may not have the thrill of an illegal run, but believe me, participation is not only cool, but it also improves your driving skills.

We, at know what we are talking about. We have already organized three track-days. We visited and participated in several others before. Do you know how easy it is to organize such an event? Choose a track – you'll find one not too far from your city. Even a small one will do – it's not just speed that makes driving fun. Talk to the operators of the track – it is very likely that they will be ready to host such an event. Let people know of your event. Register the participants, group them according to the performance of their cars. Make entry for visitors and spectators free. The operators of the track will do everything else for you. They know how a track-day works.

Once you have organized everything, pray for nice weather. Because it's a lot more fun to eye up the cars on the pit on a sunny day. Looking at old Ladas standing next to Silvias, AE86s, Evos, BMWs, purpose-built race cars, family sedans and wagons. You don't really need a tuned car, especially on smaller tracks to have fun and experience your own limits and those of your car. Jump at the opportunity and visit the next track-day event instead of hooning on a crowded street.

Keep it cool, play it safe, you're gonna have enormous fun all the while, believe me.

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