Population pressure and greed conspired to kill motorsports in the Rift Valley after the only racecourse track in the region was subdivided into plots.
Between the mid-60s and mid-80s, it was thrilling to watch Formula One-like machines, popularly referred to as Langa Langa, rallying in a number of laps on the 10-kilometre race track in a hotly contested competition that used to entertain thousands of Nakuru residents on the first weekend of every three months.
Back then, Kenya’s Safari Rally was listed as one of the most competitive and gruelling motorsports by the World’s Federation of International Automobile Sports.
Some of the participants in the Langa Langa Motorsports were Vic Preston Senior and M S Khan.
Langa Langa Motorsports was a combination of motorbike and motor competition (a replica of Paris Dakar Rally) racing at the racecourse track that years later gave birth to one of the oldest neighbouring estates in Nakuru Municipality in Langa Langa Estate and Langa Langa Phase Two.
But after the subdivision of the racecourse land into plots, which was located at the foot of Langa Langa Hill on the western side of Lake National Park, a new estate - Racecourse Estate - emerged.
The land borders Lake View Estate to the South and Langa Langa Estates (Phase One and Phase Two) to the West.
Modern one- or two-bedroom houses have since been constructed at the prestigious Racecourse Estate, which has attracted middle working class earners.
“The rents have really shot up in the past six years and it is really becoming unbearable to most of us because of low salaries,” says James Njuguna, a resident.
Rent ranges from Sh8,000 to Sh15,000. Most of the houses are managed by property agents hired by landlords and landladies.
“The new estates have helped improve the living standards of the people here,” said George Mwanda, an estate agent.
At the heart of Racecourse Estate is a modern two-star Zakayos Hotel. There are also several public primary schools owned by Nakuru County Government and other private institutions.
Racecourse Estate has inspired private developers to come up with attractive and modern housing schemes to compete against cheaper rental houses at Langa Langa and Lakeview Estates occupied by low-income dwellers whose rent in the 70s and 80s were between Sh200 and Sh300 for a one-bedroom semi-permanent houses.
“There is no much difference between those staying in self-contained rooms and us who live in the old houses that have washrooms and water taps installed outside our houses,” says Wambui Kanyeki, a Langa Langa resident.
Racecourse Estate has also encouraged the construction of modern low-class houses in the adjacent Mwariki Estate by private developers.
This was before a recent programme by the World Bank under the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project to improve infrastructure in the neighbouring Kwa Rhonda slums that has so far cost over Sh6 billion.
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