Every high school had, more or less, its cliques; regardless of what they were, we all usually somewhat fell into them. Gently nestled somewhere within this chaotic mass of high school drama and teen angst was our group, not exactly known for anything like popularity, sports, parties, and the like.
Talking cars, buying cars, breaking cars, fixing cars but most, notoriously, (at least in our own minds) racing cars. For a while, the latter didn't really come about in our conversations, at least not from our own experiences. But soon enough, this changed. One by one, we started to turn 16 years old, getting our license as quickly as possible, generally on the same day we turned. Cars came soon enough after that, most of us had our own within a couple months, if not weeks, of getting that little piece of legal plastic. On that day, we resolved to drive defensively, keep our cars solely up-to-maintenance, and never, ever, break the rules of the road.
I'm just f**king with you, we were street-racers.
We've seen entire multi-store parking lots filled to the brim with modified cars in the early hours of the morning, only to end in street racing and be followed shortly by red-and-blue flashing lights.
Hurtling down city streets at nearly triple the marked speed limit, in a 2,900 pound piece of metal not even capable of receiving an acceptable crash rating from the IIHS, is not exactly an activity that tends to draw a large amount of eager volunteers to jump aboard. But, after years of being car enthusiasts, this is what we had, perhaps unknowingly, conditioned ourselves to find appealing. Everyone attributes a different set of characteristics to cars, ones by which they judge and are judged, to many a car is simply a means of transportation, measured against other cars by its price tag, luxury and practicality. For us, the comfort or miles-per-gallon of one car compared to another was meaningless, how we could make a car unique, be that in performance or appearance, that's what we valued in cars.
As I have repeatedly mentioned, but not elaborated tremendously on, street racing and cars were synonymous within our group. I've barreled down highways so fast that the slightest degree of change in steering brought with it the chance of collision. I've seen enough police stops to be able to recognize their head-and-taillights from miles away. I've heard engines backfire out exhaust pipes loud enough to temporarily deafen me. In our group, racing was a right of passage for all cars, anything that came with it was just part of the ordeal.
Let me not mislead you, there is more danger to street racing than simply dealing with the police, as would be expected. This is not the safest way to use a car; quite the understatement. For us, the risk was understood, which took longer for some of us to understand than others (myself included,) but not actualized into inhibition. Of course, there were times we had called the night off because of this, opting instead to gather in a basement and play Forza Motorsport until we couldn't differentiate between the television screen and the wall it was resting on. But at the same time, sometimes the most enjoyable things to do may have unfavorable outcomes, calling into question exactly how much you want to continue doing what you do. For now, that amount of ambition remains unchanged for us.
So why? I can't expect anyone to understand, or validate, the appeal to street racing, no more than I can be expected to see the appeal in English cheese rolling. I'll completely agree with anyone who says what we do is futile, dangerous and just generally a statistically unwise activity; to which I have no refutation. Truly, there are alternatives to using the streets as a raceway, I am no denier of that. Of course, I could say the entire reason we do not use these is because of the cost and simply the impracticality of applying a daily-driver vehicle to the track, but I cannot negate that there is simply a different allure to racing on a highway road, with the pitch-black night sky overhead and surrounding sense of freedom ever-present, than there is on a track. Maybe some of us are simply predisposed to eventually find ourselves tearing down the road in a mass of fuel and metal, taking only the slightest touch to start us on our ways; maybe a Fast and Furious movie or two.