Posted: October 17th, 2013
WRIT 101, Section 37
Paper No 1, First Draft
February 1, 2013
In relation to the study of cultural and ethnic studies, subculture refers to a societal group with a unique set of shared values, beliefs, attitudes customs and even language. These common factors are purposed to unify the group which is then regarded one entity. Other factors that can form the basis of a subculture include social determinants such as ethnic background, race, race, religion, occupation or even a commonly activity. However, the term is mostly used to refer to deviant groups. One form of subculture is drifting. Drifting is a kind of motor sport where the drivers swerve their cars through over-steering such that their wheels slide from side to side as they drive at a high speed. Some people refer to it as stunt driving. With emphasis on Saudi Arabia, the following research paper discusses four main aspects of this sport, places used for drifting, models of cars used, people who practice drifting and the effects of the sport.
Saudi Arabia is known as one of the countries where drifting is widely practiced. Regarded as a dangerous sport, nowhere has it been abused than in Saudi Arabia where it is a cult culture. In other countries such as the United States, drifting is classified as a sport, not merely a pastime done by reckless youths. For this reason, there are special places designated for this sport. In Saudi Arabia, the sport is mostly practiced by youth as a hobby, an act considered trendy. Much of it is done in public places such as deserted roads, deserts and beaches. The drivers pay scant attention to whether the roads they are using have other vehicles or pedestrians in sight.
The lack of designed places for motor sport drifting has negative effects on the safety. As mentioned, there are countries where racetracks are put in place to accommodate this sporting activity. There are therefore strict rules governing the practicing of this sport and not anyone can indulge in it. Some of the rules governing this sport include the use of specific models of cars and an age restriction. It is mostly done by persons from eighteen years and above. In such places, people are not allowed to bring their own cars and if so, they have to adhere to other conditions.
For instance, I visited a place in the United States set aside for drifting and inquired from the officer in charge whether I was allowed to go with my car and use it to drift. He responded in the affirmative but added that I would first have to follow some conditions. Some of the conditions I was given included the fact that I had to use only a sports car, which had to undergo mechanical tests to prove it, was fit for drifting. My skills were also to be put to the test. I had to provide my driver’s license and affirm that I was above eighteen years (Demachki). I think that all these conditions are put in place in order to guarantee safety when drifting and avoid possible accidents.
This is the second feature of drifting in Saudi Arabia. The origin of drifting indicates that it started in Japan, and the first models of cars used were sports cars. This has remained so over the years though other people minimally use different car models. For instance, Saudi youths use old models of cars such as Cressida Grande, hummers, SUVs, Ford and Mazda. These cars are fitted with special kinds of tyres, with people always available to change the tyres when need be, for example, when they are burnt. Some of these vehicles are expensive and not necessarily owned by their youthful drivers. Of course, none of this matters to the young men whose only desire is to indulge in this reckless sport.
Saudi Arabia has no clear distinction on who is allowed to practice drifting. There are people who are termed as professionals in drifting; however, no known schools or institutions that can evaluate their skills. Such persons learn the skill on their own through practice, much of which is done on the streets of Saudi Arabia. This is largely because there are no places where training of this sport can be carried out anywhere in this country. It is not clear why the Saudi government does not recognize drifting as a sport and assign places where it could be practiced. This is despite the fact that there are known people who have participated in drifting tournaments, in neighboring countries such as united Arab emirates, kingdom of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
Even with the challenges, they are facing in their home country these people managed to win the tournaments and bring glory upon their country. Additionally, all the competitions they took part in were at the level of Gulf States and the larger Middle East. In my interviews with some of the people that practice drifting, I encountered Mohammed Al-Hariri who is a professional at the sport. He said he had been practicing the sport since he was seventeen years, with his skills improving especially after taking part in the Gulf States contest, in the United Arab Emirates. As a team, they had asked the Saudi government to allow them to drift legally in the country and adopt it as a national sport, but they did not receive any interested response from the relevant authorities (Al-Hariri).
As mentioned above, the Saudi people do not care about the places in which they practice drifting; they do it anywhere, even inside neighborhoods. In fact, most of the people in Saudi Arabia are totally against drifting because of danger, noise, and smoking of the tires. Furthermore, many families have lost their sons because of drifting. Personally, I do not have any interest towards drifting. In short, I have never practiced drifting, and I do not like to watch it, as most people who like to line up along roadsides to experience the thrill of the sport. One day I had gone with my friends to watch drifting in my town because I was curious to know the reason behind people’s strong fanatism of drifting. I also needed to establish why I had revulsion towards it.
At that time, I was almost drawn to it while watching because I thought the show was amazing and I loved how the professional drivers managed to move the car easily. However, this was short-lived as I developed hatred for the sport, more than what existed before. This was immediately after I lost my closest friend to drifting. On that fateful day, he was watching one of the shows, when suddenly one of the drivers lost his control of the car and veered off the road. One of the casualties of the fatal accident was my friend, who succumbed to his injuries.
Seventy-eight percent of the deaths in Saudi Arabia affect the youth who die because of reckless driving and through drifting. Unbelievably this number of deaths is much higher than those caused by war and terrorist attacks. According to a documented video, statistics reveal that in 2009, 4,644 people died in Iraq because of terrorist attacks while 6,485 died from car accidents in Saudi Arabia (Street terrorism). Mathematically, in one year, calculations indicate that eighteen persons died each day with one dying every eighty minutes. All these are victims of car accidents for which drifting accounts for seventy percent.
My personal belief is that these figures are going to rise over the next few years especially because of the government’s unwillingness to recognize drifting as a legal sport and create distinct areas where the sport will be practiced. According to the Saudi organization of accidents, they received 265 casualty cases arising from accidents in one day from one city on Eid al Fitr the year 2012 (Alsayegh).
Conclusively, I am of the opinion that everyone has a hobby they pursue. Most of these hobbies provide fun and entertainment, but some can be dangerous such as drifting. In order to prevent calamities resulting from this sport, the Saudi government should come up with stringent measures that ensure safety of its citizens especially the youth. Having designated areas for practicing it can be a start and restricting unsupervised drifting. I recommend that people eager to engage in this dangerous sport should always exercise caution, more so by avoiding public places
“Street Terrorism.” You Tube. You Tube, 15 May 2010. Web. 24 January. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlUplHf3OoA>
Demachki, Sam. Personal interview. 23 December, 2012.
Alanaki, Mansoor. Personal interview. 25 January, 2013.
Al-Hariri, Mohammed. Personal interview. 28 January, 2013.
Alsayegh, Salman. Personal interview. 29 January, 2013.
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