Underground Racer Talks About Living Life At Full Throttle

Full speed ahead!

In the shadows of an almost empty avenue in Quezon City lies heaven for racers like Niko (not his real name). This former “jockey,” as they call him, told FreebieMNL his story. He waxed poetic about his days as an underground racer.

“Niko” (not his real name) started driving motorcycles when he was ten. He got his first motorcycle when he was 14 years old. His cousin then took him to a street race. Watching riders gun their engines inspired him. That was when he made up his mind to get into racing.

“Friendly games” is how he describes the underground races that he joins. He says that his usual races are against his friends, but such races only have a minimal cash pot. “Money war,” Niko calls it.

An underground racer tearing up the road. | Video by Aram Lascano.

In advanced street races, Niko mentioned that there are teams. A race usually starts when both parties agree on a date and terms. Rules-wise, the racers’ motorcycles must have the same specs or speed. If a racer breaks that rule, they must forfeit the race. 

Niko says the first rule of any race is “first to reach the finish line wins.” To make sure they have proper proof of who wins, they both have lookouts. They take videos of the race. These videos serve as insurance against cheating. In the event that it’s hard to tell who the rightful winner of a race is, these videos will help organizers pick a winner.

Bets on his races range from 5000 to 10,000 pesos. Some bet up to 150,000 pesos. But for Niko, racing is less about money and more about earning the respect of his peers. It also makes him happy when his motorcycle beats those owned by veterans. When he wins, Niko usually shares the money with his father

Underground racer no more

These kinds of races are illegal. When asked Niko what he does when cops chase him, he joked, “I ride fast, so they can’t get me.” When racers get arrested, they usually end up losing their vehicles. Most racers use unregistered motorcycles, which are impossible to reclaim.

There are legal races. But Niko stresses that drag races will never stop. He says that no matter how many racers the police arrest, others will step up to replace them. This is because there are many motorcycle riders in the country. Drag racing is important to them because it helps them make more friends. Some motorcycle riders have formed found families through racing.

Drag racing isn’t always fun and games. “There was one race in Pasay where someone threatened to shoot us,” Niko shares. “They didn’t have the same motorcycle caliber as ours, which is part of the rules. Upon checking their ride, they pulled out guns.”

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Niko’s motorcycle. | Photo from Niko

These days, Niko is still passionate about motorcycles. But he doesn’t race as much these days. Instead, he spends his days living his childhood dream. In other words, he works as a mechanic. “I stick to doing wheelies these days. I like it when the front wheel is in the air,” he quips.

Aside from the fact that he has his dream job, Niko says inflation made him decide to quit. He’s no longer an underground racer because it’s too expensive to be one these days.

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“Gas prices are very high now. Ubos ang isang litro in an instant,” he says.

Featured Image Daniella Sison

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