Racing is becoming a more popular sport in today’s era. In general, racing consists of many different variants such as: Formula 1, NASCAR, Drag Racing, Indy, and more. Each category branches off into other forms of racing. The topic that will be discussed in this paper is street racing. Street racing originated from drag racing in the 90s. There were many people that could not afford to drag race at a track because of issues with money or cars not fitting the regulations. The concept of drag racing is when two drivers line up, and in the middle of the two cars would be a stoplight consisting of five lights. It is called the Christmas tree because of its red, yellow and green lights.
The Christmas tree is basically a backwards stoplight; It starts at red, then to the three yellows, then it turns green, which signals the drivers to go. When the light hits green, the two racers drive as fast as they can to the finish line, which triggers an electronic board showing their times and speed. Street racing is growing rapidly amongst the community and it is only getting bigger from here. Street racing has a few different categories in itself. Classic street racing is extremely similar to drag racing. The difference is that there is no Christmas tree and no electric board. Although street racing is illegal, there are regulations set by the community. Most drivers will drive up next to another car that they see and ask them if they want to race.
The two cars will line up and either countdown vocally or with a series of three honks of the horn. The two drivers will race until either the gap between the two cars is far enough apart and there is an obvious winner, or until one car reaches the finish line or designated destination. The winner will then turn on their hazard lights as a sign of victory. There are also different kinds of races. The most common type of race is a dig. A dig is when both drivers are lined up at a complete stop in separate cars. Instead of a Christmas tree, there will be a person standing between the two cars with both arms in the air. This person is called a flagger. The two drivers will begin to rev their engines, and when the flagger standing between the car drops their arms, the cars will take off and race to the finish point. Another type of race is called a roll.
A roll can take place on any street or highway. It can even take place on a track, however that is less common. Racing from a roll is when two cars are driving side by side at the same speed, and the race is either initiated vocally or by a series of three honks. On the third honk, both cars take off and race until one car pulls ahead and the winner has a significant lead. The most common speeds for a roll are 40 miles per hour and 60 miles per hour; However, a roll can begin from any given speed. One of the less common races is the hat race. A hat race is when there are multiple racers that put a set amount of money into a hat. A neutral person then takes the hat to a given location while the drivers set up on a line. Once the neutral person calls and says where the hat is, all of the driver’s race to the location. The first person to reach the destination wins all of the money in the hat. Another type of street racing is called drifting. Drifting is when the driver intentionally loses traction by oversteering the car, but remains in control while driving through a corner (Banner). This type of racing originated in Japan during the 70s.
One of the earliest events recorded in the United States was 1996 at Willow Springs Raceway. The event is now popularized all over the world, and has many events. The events are judged by speed, angle, and smoothness of the overall run. Illegal street racers race for many different prizes, some are much more valuable than others. The most common prize is a cash pool. The two drivers put down the same amount of money and the winner takes all. The least common selection happens to be the most exciting. Racing for pink slips is where both drivers put their cars up for grabs. The winner of the race will win the other driver’s car permanently. This kind of race is extremely uncommon. It originated in Japan during the 90s, and is featured in the famous movie, “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift”. There is one scene where the two drifters race to the top of the parking garage for a pink slip and the underdog wins. In street racing, people are basically allowed to use any type of car set up that they want, and race whoever they want. Many races are not even at all because it all depends on what the driver has modified on their car. There is a wide variety of modifications that can be done to a car. Most of these are done by a tuner or a mechanic. They change the engine, drivetrain, suspension, and other parts of the car. The variants of the engine add more horsepower and torque, which makes the car faster. The most famous engine modification is the 2JZ engine swap.
The 2JZ is an incredibly powerful engine that became famous because of the legendary race car, the Toyota Supra. The Supra 2JZ-GTE is a classic race car that is known for its incredible speed and sound. It was first developed in 1991 in Japan (Banner). Racers shipped them to the United States and tuned them to have over 1000 horsepower. Tuners specialize on tuning the engine. Tuning is when a mechanic tweaks an engine to get the maximum amount of performance out of the car. Modifications to the drivetrain are less necessary unless the driver is professional grade. These parts include the flywheel, clutch, gearbox, propeller shaft, and rear axle (Bosch 536). Adjustments to the suspension helps the car ride smoother and gives it more control while going over bumps and through sharp turns. There are two sides to the world of street racing. People either love it or they hate it and there is no inbetween. Many people say that street racing is bad and dangerous to the community. In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that police listed street racing as a factor in 135 fatal crashes. The total was up from 72 street-racing-related fatalities reported in 2000 (NHRA). There is another side which thinks that street racing is safe and perfectly fine. All street racers know that this type of racing is illegal and can be dangerous, but in their minds they will believe that they won’t hurt people around them.
However, accidents do happen, and they happen to everyone. There was a street track called the Brotherhood Raceway which used to be located on Terminal Island. Brotherhood was basically a small, quarter-mile drag strip on a closed street (Brown). This was a place where street racers could go and race for free. It was mainly used for racers who wanted to know their times and speeds. This drag strip was created to keep racers off of public streets and highways. During the middle of the 90s, the track was closed down, forcing these people to transport to a different track, or to illegally race on the streets and highways. In these past couple of years, there has been an exponential growth to the street-racing scene, mainly because of movies and video games. The movie series “Fast and Furious” is a series based on a group of street racers that get into trouble and practically race their way out of it. All of the movies display fast, flashy cars and exhilarating races.
Although the movies are amazing, they are a slight exaggeration to how the car scene is in real life. Since the release of the movie, everybody who owns a car thinks they are a racer. The true scene of the real street racers has vanished due to these fake racers. The fake racers and the movie “Fast and Furious” have given racing a very bad rap. The fake racers think that they can race anywhere they want at anytime. They don’t care about putting their lives in danger or the lives of other people around them. Street racing has also been heavily influenced by video games. One of the most popular games is called Need For Speed, which contains a variety of different cars and tracks to race on. This game has gotten the youth into street racing which is making it more dangerous. Kids mimic what they see in movies and video games instead of being mindful about it.
Street racing is a substantial factor of the car community. It brings people together and creates networks throughout America. This community is growing exponentially and will continue to grow for years to come. The cars will become faster, the crowds will become larger, and the adrenaline will stay pumping.
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