Clashes have erupted in Bahrain as security forces have stepped up the violent crackdown on anti - regime protesters ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix auto race.The clashes took place on Thursday as protesters took to the streets, blocking roads with burning tires. Bahrain is preparing to host the Formula One Grand Prix on April 19-21. On Wednesday, Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq, called for peaceful demonstrations to ‘send a message to the world about our demand for peaceful democratic reform.’ Meanwhile, a number of people have been detained in the capital, Manama, for taking part in the protests. Demonstrators say Manama’s hosting of the Formula One race will legitimize the Al Khalifa regime and its abuse of the rights of the Bahraini people. Over the past few days, thousands of Bahrainis have taken to the streets across the country to express opposition to the sporting event. Bahrainis say Formula One governing body, the FIA, should cancel the event in Bahrain over the ongoing crackdown by the Al Khalifa regime on the peaceful protests. Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.