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Cuban car and motorbike lovers fight to bring races into the light

A red Lada crosses the finish line to win a drag race at an old, unused airstrip in San Nicolas de Bari, Cuba, Sunday, July 23, 2023.   -  
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Ramon Espinosa/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Hundreds of people braved the 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) summer heat on Sunday (Jul.23) to watch some thirty cars and motorcycles race in an old airstrip outside of Havana.

For six decades, car racing was banned in Cuba on the grounds that it was either dangerous or elitist, and fosters an atmosphere of social indiscipline and daring, something incompatible with the values which the revolution sought to create.

However, despite the current lack of fuel or spare parts caused by the economic crisis and the U.S. economic embargo of the island, drivers and fans are now fighting to make these races a legal sport. Taking them out of the darkness of the streets where they thrived clandestinely for years.

The Sunday race was organized with all the required permits by the Friends of the Motor Club at the old airstrip in the town of San Nicolás - some 60 kilometers southeast of the capital.

The spectators who made it to the track found out about the event by word of mouth and through Facebook.

Reforms in 2010 legalized the purchase and sale of vehicles and houses and expanded the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Race organizers hope that now is the time to get greater support and end the prejudice against the sport.

They expect that sponsors, companies or people linked to the world of motorsports will be allowed to improve the conditions of the tracks or help the drivers and mechanics who usually work for nothing, just to see their vehicles race.

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