Street racing: a form of auto racing

Street racing

Street racing is a form of auto racing which takes place on public roads. Street racing can either be spontaneous or well planned and coordinated. Spontaneous races usually occur at intersections where two cars stop at a red light before they begin racing. Well coordinated races, in comparison, are chosen before the race night and often have a staff with walkie-talkies that organize races (see participants, below). Street racing is reported to originate prior to the 1950s in some parts of the United States at &

Opponents to street racing cite a lack of safety relative to santioned racing events, as well as legal repercussions arising from incidents, among street racing's drawbacks.

Types of racing encountered on the street:

Drag Race

Drag racing is a contest generally involving two (or more) vehicles accelerating from a stop (although less commonly, a "rolling start" from a given speed of anywhere from 5 mph or faster) until either a given distance or speed is reached, or only one party remains in the race. This differs from most sanctioned drag racing, in which events generally begin from a stop and race until a predetermined distance is reached (usually one eighth to one quarter of a mile).

Highway or road racing

Also common is a more spontaneous form of racing, in which two or more cars compete until one party remains in the race. This differs from the drag race above, in that it is generally not planned, and occurs when the racing parties encounter each other while driving. In Tokyo, highway racing is known as "Wangan" in which every friday at midnight. Racers with their highly modified cars will race on Tokyo's Shuto Expressway. A street racing team that glorified the scene was The Mid Night Club.


The export of drifting and touge racing from (primarily) Japan has led to its acceptance in other parts of the world. Touge generally refers to racing, one car at a time, through mountain passes (the definition of which varies per locale and racing organization). Examples of such roads include Del Dios Highway ( ) in Escondido, California and Mount Haruna, on the island of Honshu, in Japan. The definition of touge implies that roads in touge conditions are too narrow to permit more than one racer in a given direction (or in total). However, street racing competition can lead to more people racing on a given road than would ordinarily be permitted (hence leading to the reputation of danger inherent).


In some places there have been legal street races known as blackraces. This is not the same as road racing (or, in some respects, traditional street racing); it is strictly an amateur sport with road legal vehicles. Usually the races are done on a closed road and run on time and not against another vehicle, the most famous of these races being the annual Silver State Classic.

Cannonball runs

Cannonball Runs are an illegal road race that involve a handful group of racers. They will race from one part of a country to the other side. Whoever makes the fastest overall time is the winner. A perfect example of an illegal road race was the original Cannonball Run that Brock Yates founed (hence the term "Cannonballing". Several years after the Cannonball, Yates created the family friendly, legal version "One Lap Of America!". While nowadays it's difficult or impossible to organize an illegal and exteremly dangerous road race, there are still a few events which glamorize illegal street racing, such as the Gumball 3000 races. The latter such racing community has even spawned celebrities such as Crazy Rob (a Porsche GT2 driver, and self-proclaimed speed law violator, and the Teckademics film series.

Variations on the above

Because of the spontaneous nature of street racing, many variations are given on any of the larger "racing" themes. An example (possibly apocryphal) variation would be the duct tape deathmatch (as described by Keiichi Tsuchiya and depicted in Initial D), in which participants race with one hand taped to the steering wheel, ostensibly using the other to shift. Drift racing could be considered a variation on the above. However, the nature of drift racing is in its origins in street racing in Japan. As such, it may be considered a technique rather than a variation to increase difficulty of the race.


:An "official" lexicon of street racing terminology is difficult to establish as terminology differs by location.


Any or all of the belowmentioned activities may be considered illegal, depending on location of the race. In addition to the people racers, there are generally observers present at organized street races. A flagger (, starts the race, this is typically accomplished by standing fore of those racing, and making an up-down motion with the arms indicating the race should begin. There are variations on this theme, including the throwing/dropping of a handkerchief, ribbon, and so on. This act would be analogous to the tree in a typical sanctioned drag race, and has been portrayed widely in popular culture, from ZZ Top music videos to American cinema.

Race specifics

A dig may refer to all participants toeing a line, aligning the front bumper of the vehicles, after which all vehicles race from a stop to a pre-arranged point (typically a quarter mile in the United States, but may vary by locale).

A roll generally refers to a race which starts at a non-zero speed, and continues until all but one participant have stopped racing. This may be accompanied by a series of honks which would be analogous to a countdown.


The motivations for street racing are complex and manifold, typically cited reasons include

  • Generally, street racing is not sanctioned and thus leads to a less rigorously controlled environment than sanctioned racing, to the enjoyment of some participants.
  • Street racing is cited as an activity which is available to persons who are otherwise underage for entertainment at traditional venues such as bars.
  • A community generally springs up around the street racing "scene", providing social interaction among the participants and cliques therein.
  • The opportunity to prove the worth of one's mechanical ability (or money invested in a vehicle).
  • The simple excitement of racing.
  • The excitement of racing when law enforcement is certain to give chase.
  • A lack of proper, sanctioned racing venues in the locale.
  • Street races are sometimes wagered on, either by the participants or observers. This is the origin of the term "racing for pink slips", which in practice happens seldomly.
  • The rush when a street racer has tuned his/her car to the limit and to race only to harass and outrun a police cruiser


The Kent, Washington police department lists the following consequences of street racing

The above consequences can be distilled thusly:

Because racing occurs in areas where it is not sanctioned, extensive wear can occur to the roads (from high-powered vehicles damage the asphalt) and damage to the fences/gates closing the area off (in the case of industrial parks, etc). Further, as the street racing culture places a very high social value on a fast vehicle, people who might not otherwise be able to afford highly modifiable -- but very expensive -- vehicles such as the Acura NSX and Toyota Supra may attempt to steal them, violently or otherwise. Additionally, street racers tend to form teams which participate in racing together, the implication above is that these teams may be a form of organized crime or gang activity.

Worth noting is that the astronomical theft rate of the Acura Integra and other popular street racing cars is associated with street racing, in addition to the usual claims of chop shops.

Street Racing in Japan

Street racers, known natively as hashiriya, can also occur on expressways and highways, infamously in Japan, where they are known as kousoku battle or commonly known as Roulette-zoku as they drive round and round on circular expressways and frequently occur on the Shuto Expressway in Tokyo. The most notorious group to be associated with it was the Mid Night Club who gave street racing worldwide attention with its 186 mph (300 km/h) antics and was known for its high standards and organization until they were disbanded in 1999 following a fatal accident involving a group of motorcyclists.

With heavier punishments, patrolling police cars, crackdowns in meeting areas and speed cameras; expressway racing in Japan is not as common today as it was during the 80's and 90's but still occurs on a not so regular basis. Persistent racers often install electric license-plate swiveling mechanisms or picture-proof screens over their plates. In 2001, the amount of hashiriya have dropped to 4,365 last year from 9,624 in 1995 and police arrests in areas where hashiriya gather are common, where their cars are checked for illegal modification and if there is, the owners are fined and forced to remove the offending modifications. The expressway racing scene is portrayed in the manga Wangan Midnight, as well as in the biographical (Tsuchiya) Shuto Kousoku Trial.

One of the causes of street racing in Japan is, despite the numerous and famous race circuits, they can become overcrowded. Furthermore, such circuits may cost as much as 20,000 JPY to (a highway toll may cost less than 1,000 Also, with Japan's high cost of living; many young drivers prefer to put their savings into, or take out loans on their vehicles where they would usually gather with like minded people at either the Shibaura parking area, the Tatsumi parking area or the best known of the lot, Yokohama's Daikoku Futo service area.

Like in other countries, street racing also occurs on long straights in industrial areas, which are used for drag races, known natively as Zero-Yon.

In rural Japan, racers slide around the corners of remote winding mountain passes, as portrayed in Initial D.

Street Racing in Hong Kong

Street racing in Hong Kong is very similar to that in other Asian countries and tends to consist mostly of modified Japanese cars and motorcycles. The Hong Kong Police Force, responsible for road safety, are in the practice of placing roadblocks in areas where this commonly occurs.

The Hong Kong street racing scene has spawned numerous movies that have sequences of street racing.

Street Racing in Malaysia

Street racing in Malaysia is illegal, as is watching a street race; This is enforced by the Malaysian police. Many streets, roads, highways and expressways in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and other cities have become sites for racing. Among the participants are teenagers riding either motorcycles or driving modified cars. The motorcycle street racers in Malaysia are famously known as Mat Rempit in Malay Language. These Mat Rempit are famous for their "Superman" stunts and other feats performed on their motorcycles. They are also notorious for their "Cilok", a kind of racing in which racers weave in-between moving and stationary traffic at high-speed.

On 12 July 2006, the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link in Johor became a place of illegal racing. The Johor police and the Road Transport Department, with the highway operator PLUS Expressway, have launched major operations to crack down on illegal racing; More than 100,000 people have been arrested in these operations.

Street Racing in the United States

There is a strong racing culture in California, particularly Southern California Considered to be the birthplace of North American drag racing This area was covered in some depth by such as Turbo and Hi-Tech Performance and Sport Compact Car in the late

In some cases, this popularity has led to tough anti-street racing laws which give more strict punishments (including misdemeanors for attending race events) than normal traffic citations and also often involve dedicated anti-racing task forces. In 2005, a law in Tennessee was passed prohibiting cars to have nitrous oxide hooked up to, or even present inside a . Penalties include impoundment of the offending vehicle and/or the suspension or revocation of the offender's drivers license.

Some police departments in the United States have also undertaken community outreach programs to work with the racing community to educate them to the dangers of street racing, as well as to encourage them to race in sanctioned events. Kent's Beat the Heat is a typical example of this type of program. Other such alliances have been forged in southern and central California, reducing the incidence of street racing there.

Street racing: a form of auto racing


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