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Motorbike racing returns to Ho Chi Minh City after 17 years

A motorbike race was organized last weekend at Phu Tho Sports Center in Ho Chi Minh City, stirring speed lovers in the city and neighboring localities.

It was the first official motorbike racing event to be organized in the city in 17 years, which was named the Vietnam Motor Cub Prix, or the Ho Chi Minh City Sports Paper Cup 2015.

Motorbike racers are supported by a large crowd of fans at Phu Tho Sports Center in Ho Chi Minh City on August 15-16, 2015
Motorbike racers are supported by a large crowd of fans at Phu Tho Sports Center in Ho Chi Minh City on August 15-16, 2015

The event attracted the participation of nearly 100 racers and an audience of 6,000-7,000 people, even though the prices of tickets were VND180,000 (US$8.3) and 400,000 ($18.4).

The racing took place on August 15 and 16.

On average, the prices were more expensive than those of a football match of Vietnam’s top-tier V-League.

Football, or soccer, is now considered the number-one sport in Vietnam.

Le Minh Hoang, a fan of motorbike racing, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, “I have a mania for watching motorbike races and was a fan of the races in the 1990s at the Phu Tho Sports Center.

“That time, tens of thousands of people came to watch the races.”

The last motorbike race at Phu Tho was in 1998.

Ngo Quang Vinh, vice chairman of Vietnam’s association of motorbike and bicycle racing, said Vietnam had no policy to encourage the use of two-stroke motorbikes during that time, while most racers prefer two-stroke vehicles for speedy starts.

So, fewer and fewer sponsors came to the events, and eventually they ended in 1998, Vinh added.

Tang Ba Le, head of the community sports unit under the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture and Sports, said there was no ban on motorbike racing in the city back then.

The main reason behind the ‘disappearance’ of motorbike races from the southern metropolis during the past 17 years is the lack of advertisements and sponsorship.

Over the last few decades, similar races have been occasionally organized in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, Da Nang City in the central region, and Kien Giang and Can Tho in the Mekong Delta.

The return of the races last weekend is a good sign for Ho Chi Minh City, in terms of both sports and community development, as it creates ‘an official forum’ for racers to join and thus reduces illegal street racing.

Despite having no races, the city has around 30 motorbike racing clubs with 200 racers.

Many racers admitted that they sometimes take part in illegal races on deserted streets at night to satisfy their desire.