Drag Racing in Curaçao
Drag racing is a phenomenon across the Caribbean, and Curaçao is no exception. When the races are on, hundreds of people cram into the stands to watch tuned-up cars and tricked-out motorcycles squeal down the track. Our last Sunday on the island coincided with the first day of the season, so we decided to check it out.
Jürgen and I are not exactly racing fans. In fact, until now, the only “Drag Race” I had been familiar with was the one hosted by RuPaul. I had never attended any sort of motorsports event, whether NASCAR, Formula 1, or Motocross, and never felt like I was missing out. But for whatever reason, I was excited to see the Curaçao drag races on Sunday night. Who knew? Maybe RuPaul would be there!
We showed up, expecting to see some sweet cars, gleaming and polished, perhaps sporting racing stripes and definitely with huge spoilers and other crazy custom modifications. So, when a little Volkswagen Polo pulled up to the starting line, I was confused. “Surely, it’s just the test car,” I reasoned. But no, this was one of the racers, and much of its competition was in a similar category. These were the types of cars I frequently overtake on the way to the supermarket… in fact, I’m pretty sure that they were those cars!
So, I had to adjust my expectations for the day, especially after watching a Vespa “blaze” down the track and shatter exactly zero world speed records. But there was something cool about the fact that seemingly anyone could race with any kind of vehicle. And as the day went along, the cooler cars started to show up; the kinds you’d expect to see at a Caribbean drag race. They’d rev their engines before starting, producing billows of smoke while waiting for the green light, then peel down the track, racing two at a time.
Even better than the cars were the motorcycles, many of which were tricked-out and extremely cool. The guys (and a girl) who drive them are insane! I don’t know how many times my heart jumped, watching them nearly lose control after blasting off down the track. We didn’t see any wipeouts, but they must happen frequently.
The races started at four in the afternoon, but the crowds didn’t start showing up until about six. The racing strip is on an elevated plain, and there’s a nice view, especially when the sun starts to go down. Considering that this was a relatively unimportant race day, we were surprised by the number of spectators. Later during the season, for the bigger events, the stands can be packed to capacity.
If you’re a fan of racing, check out the Speedway’s website, where you’ll find a calendar of upcoming events. It makes for an entertaining Sunday evening, and provides a reminder that Curaçao isn’t just about tranquil beaches and nature… they like their action, too.