June 22, 2001
10:10 AM   Subscribe

Is "street racing" as popular outside the Bay Area as it seems to be here? Have there been tragic accidents taking the lives of non-racers elsewhere? Will these idiots be emboldened by the release of "The Fast and the Furious" this weekend?
posted by msacheson (39 comments total)
If the media is going to blame this weeks accident on street racers that race in Milpitas, and San Jose (according to channel 5 news clips they were showing gatherings at late night street races) and blaming it on what happened at Mission BLVD, when will they do something about getting a legal track back in the bay area.

That's quite a sentence. :-) If you dechiper it, I think it makes half a good point. (Is he/she asking the media to help create a legal street track?) If there's a demand for a legal street-racing venue, why isn't there one? (That's a real question--I'm nowhere near SF--not a comment.)

BTW, good topic, msacheson.
posted by jpoulos at 10:18 AM on June 22, 2001

If there's a demand for a legal street-racing venue, why isn't there one?

If there were an officially-sanctioned street-racing venue, it would be just another track and there would be no point at all in racing on it.
posted by kindall at 10:22 AM on June 22, 2001

Not necessarily. I don't know the motivations of everyone involved, but streetracing.org seems to think that "a public track for these groups of people to race on" is what's in order.
posted by jpoulos at 10:31 AM on June 22, 2001

I am pessimistic that these street racers would refrain from exhibiting their macho-ness on a city street on a Wednesday night because they have some time scheduled for the following weekend at an approved track. There's a reason they call themselves street racers.
posted by msacheson at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2001

Why isn't there one?? First of all, look at the kinds of accidents (and deaths) that occur on the professional racing circuit, then ask yourself what would happen if anybody could just take their car to a track and race for the fun of it.
Doesn't sound like a brilliant idea to me. Not to mention all the lawsuits and insurance costs...
posted by jnthnjng at 10:40 AM on June 22, 2001

we have a track just outside the city, gets some heavy use. Can't say I remember hearing about an accident there or on actual streets. Can't say I've even heard of street racing here in Cincy.
posted by Mick at 11:06 AM on June 22, 2001

I'm pretty sure you can do that at Laguna Seca (race your own car).......but I think it carries a rather weighty fee.

I live in the vast mediocrity that is Orange County, and if there's one thing people are HUGE into down here, it's their cars. Particularly little crap-box Honda Civics or Acura Integras with 5 foot tall spoilers on them. Oh, and don't forget to add one of those quintessentially useless mufflers that make that lovely noise. The only thing that really worries me so much is driving these low-end crappy cars at breakneck speeds they weren't designed to handle.

Favorite laughable automotive sight glimpsed on the 405 one summer's day: a giant white truck, lowered to within an inch of the ground, with a spoiler on top of the cab AND on the tailgate...and an airbrushed painting of the same truck (painted on itself) in a woodland scene. Why, it took my breath away!

Anyway, I've heard street racing is quite popular here and in San Diego. At night and on the weekends, industrial areas in places like Irvine are practically deserted and have wide streets which must be like a siren song to street racers. Is it dangerous? Of course. But it's been going on pretty much since cars have been a going concern. A hard thing to put a stop to I guess.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2001

then ask yourself what would happen if anybody could just take their car to a track and race for the fun of it.

Well, sure, but such public tracks do exist around the country, if I'm not mistaken. I know we have a quarter-mile "dragstrip" just over the border in New Hampshire.
posted by jpoulos at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2001

This is definitely not isolated to the Bay Area. In today's Vancouver Sun, there is an article about recent deaths that have been caused by street racing.

We'll see if the movie causes an increase in racing. I know that there was a lot of concern about an equally stupid movie - Gone in 60 Seconds - when it was first released. I'm not sure of other areas, but in Vancouver there was an initial report that stated there was an increase, but it was later retracted as a "clerical error".
posted by kaefer at 11:16 AM on June 22, 2001

there's street racers everywhere.

if there's more than one tricked out 'rice-boy'* honda in a town, there's a race about to happen somewhere.

and yeah, i think 'the fast and the furious' is going to umm... rev peoples engines... but hopefully it'll have the same impact as fight club. whole lot of people talking about how it changed their life... but no one actually sticking to it.

for more info on the term 'rice-boy', don't go here

"The term "Rice-Boy" is meant to be a derogatory term. But not racially derogatory. Some people might say that regardless of what this disclaimer says, it makes Asians look bad. Well, I hate to break it to these people but asians are not the only people on this planet who eat rice. Everyone eats rice. White people eat rice. Black people eat rice. Native Americans? They eat rice. Europeans eat rice!! And, if you open your eyes, you might notice that a whole lot of the rice-boys out there aren't even asian! The "rice" really refers to their cars. It's not about their race, it's about their attitude!"
posted by jcterminal at 11:16 AM on June 22, 2001

Good post. I have a friend from San Diego, and he told me about this thing he went to somewhere in southern california with his friend where people race these modified import cars, called "rice rockets", apparently. It was a huge deal, with tight organization, protocols for quickly moving the race if the cops came, serious competitors with heavily modified cars, and hundreds of other cars parked ass-in for a quick getaway. He told me that a little while after it started, helicopters and police cars came out of everywhere and blocked everyone in, and then made everyone organize into a double-file line of cars for inspection. Cars in violation of some law were taken away on one of a number of huge car-transporters. He said that they had to sit in this line for hours, and if you stuck your head out the window and looked up and down the column of cars, you could see people throwing illegal carparts and drug paraphenalia all up and down the strip. Sounds like it was pretty nuts.

I had never heard of anything remotely like this happening on the east coast. Maybe I'm just really unhip, but I feel like I would have heard or seen something about it. It's really weird. He talked about it as if in California, it was just another youth subculture, like skateboarding, raves, or punk rock. Never seen it where I live though (NJ). Then again, don't most youth crazes start on the west coast, jump to the east coast eventually, and then filter into the middle of the country?
posted by jeb at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2001

jcterminal, thanks for the rice-boy link! That site sprekkins-my-deutsch and gave me a few good laughs. My favorite rice-boy car identifier is when a Honda has a "Powered by Honda" sticker on it. Like, no sh*t, your Civic is powered by Honda? Whodda thunk it?
posted by msacheson at 11:24 AM on June 22, 2001


I feel that jcterminal's comments on race and the racist term "rice boy" are completely gratuitous to this thread, and that we all ignore them, and carry on with the discussion at hand.

my 2 cents
posted by jpoulos at 11:27 AM on June 22, 2001

Is "street racing" as popular outside the Bay Area as it seems to be here?

A&E did a really good documentary on street racing in mississauga a few years ago, unfortunately too long ago to have a complimenting website.

if you cruise the lakeshore on a friday or saturday night, i'm sure a good set of eyes could spot some street racing.
posted by will at 11:38 AM on June 22, 2001

jpoulos, I agree, somewhat. From the outsider perspective (ours), it is unfair and even racist to lump these people together and call them "rice-boys", so I will refrain from perpetuating that in this thread from now on.

However, I think the way these street racers (how's that?) customize their cars is indicative of their attitude, and, IMHO, idiocy.
posted by msacheson at 11:41 AM on June 22, 2001

You know, msacheson, that is exactly what I was thinking since I saw the trailer for this obviously cheesy, teen aimed flick. It's not as if I don't have to hear enough dumb rednecks with no mufflers trying to impress local teenage skanks from two miles away already. If people want to be morons, let them do it on their own time and kill themselves off on a private track where I won't be endangered or bothered. I guess poseur idiocy always sells.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 11:42 AM on June 22, 2001

jpoulos: I second. *sound of two pennies pulled from pocket, laid on table*
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:42 AM on June 22, 2001

Now see, I'm asian, and I don't mind. Riceboypage is funny, if you ask me.
posted by Hackworth at 12:06 PM on June 22, 2001

Well, jeb, live and learn:

That links to a Washington Post article about street racing in the Maryland suburbs of DC, along residential streets.

(Sorry, VNC'ing to the home box and I can't do the keyboard chords to build links).
posted by NortonDC at 12:06 PM on June 22, 2001

BTW, that quote from jcterminal's comment is from the page he linked to, not his own words.
posted by Hackworth at 12:08 PM on June 22, 2001

Okay, correct me if I am wrong...but hasn't street racing ALWAYS been around?
I understand the whole "riceboy" thing, but street racing itself has been around as long as cars have been in the capable hands of young idiot teens.
I know. believe me. I had a 280ZX with a V8 in it back in the eighties. I think the only difference is, most cars ARE smaller these days, so they have to work with what they have,right? I mean, sure, they make cars with V8 engines still...but what kid can afford it anymore....I guess they can go out and get an old car and fix it up...but the 1974 Ford Pinto with a 302 probably doesn't pull the chics like a Honda with a (giggle) racing stripe.
posted by bradth27 at 12:22 PM on June 22, 2001

i think 'the fast and the furious' is going to umm... rev peoples engines... but hopefully it'll have the same impact /as fight club.

hahahaha, what?
posted by elle at 12:38 PM on June 22, 2001

I'm asian too, and I've posted the Riceboy page to metafilter before. Personally, I find it hilarious and don't find it offensive. I mean, we have African-American/Canadian people who'll refer to their buddies as "mah n****"... I mean, it seems to be ok (as long as you're of that ethnicity and you're not slamming your own race), and they don't take offense to them saying it to each other. In the same vein, I don't take offense to asian people calling these people riceboys. Heck, the creator of the riceboy page is Korean or something, if I remember correctly.

Just to put in my two cents. Kafkaesque, I don't know much about the cars, but I have a friend who's a car enthusiast, drives around in a V6 MX-3 Precidia. Granted this isn't the most powerful car in the world, the bigger exhaust does give him a small advantage in the higher gears (I think?!? I'm not a mechanic)... and while it's noisy as hell riding in his car, it seems to perform quite nicely on long stretches of highway. As for the spoilers and whatnot, some of them are just for aesthetic reasons.. the massive foot high aluminum wings are just a bit excessive though IMO.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2001

I always viewed the term 'riceboy' as a derrogetory term towards those goofballs that think that that Integra "Type R" sticker on the rear bumper of their non Acura auto, was good for an extra HP or two. I thought that was the joke, there are a lot of people who actually make their imports faster and perform much better, then there are those who like to throw stickers and graphics and think they have some sort of tricked out street machine.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2001

Street racing (or 'cruises' as they are often known) is also popular in Europe.

In France recently there have been a number of deaths through this dangerous activity. With barely anything to do, French kids are souping up their cars, and playing 'slalom' on the autoroutes around Paris at 3am. Several innocent people have been killed after collisions with these guys.

Frankly, the people who participate in these things seem to have no respect for human life.. but, I am not so quick to judge. It seems they have an urge to race, and I don't think it should be banned or 'cracked down upon'. It proves that there is a need for more racing circuits for people to race their cars on, which are currently extremely expensive to use.

Perhaps it's time the government opened up disused airstrips and let street racers contain their racing and, preferably, kill each other rather than the innocent public.
posted by wackybrit at 1:40 PM on June 22, 2001

um... since when is "riceboy" a racial comment? it's a way of slagging off some goofball in a silly lowered pseudo-fast-looking econocar... is the racing of econocars racially correlated? It's obviously its own sort of subculture, but I've never heard any hint that it's a racially defined sort of subculture. What's going on here?

-Mars, baffled and a little worried
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:44 PM on June 22, 2001

I raced my car when I was a kid. Still have friends who do, and they are quite serious about it, e.g. "Mike" who runs a 1967 Corvette with a 595 c.i. engine that puts out 950 HP, and he has it outfitted with a nitrous tank "because that's the only way I can race motorcycles". He won't put it on the track because he doesn't want to install roll bars, which is required. Says they're ugly and get in the way, and he uses that car as his daily driver. Of course, he also gets about 5mpg and sets off every car alarm in the neighborhood just from the engine rumble when he drives by... 35 year old big kid, never grew up. Anyway, you were wondering why these people don't race on a track, and that's one reason I know of first hand. Generally, a race car is a dedicated vehicle, not for trips to the grocery store.
posted by JParker at 1:56 PM on June 22, 2001

Mars, the name came about primarily as a result of young asian kids driving around their Japanese import cars and they were tagged with the identity "Rice Boys" because of they were asian, so yes there is a bit of a racial slur in there. Which is not to say that there aren't, say, caucasian or black or east indian "rice boys" out there....

And really, what exactly does "Rice" have to do with doing stupid things to your car?
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 2:16 PM on June 22, 2001

wait? i turn my back and i'm called racist?


jesus christ, before you become knee-jerk reactionaries, you should learn to read the *entire* post.

thanks to everyone else for actually reading the full post and backing me. i'm glad to see it didn't become 'National Stop Thinking' day like i've been fearing all afternoon.

/me goes back to defacing SUVs.

posted by jcterminal at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2001

I never called anyone a racist. I think that the term "rice boy" is a racially charged term (Where I'm from a Rice Boy is someone who rides a Japanese motorcycle, instead of a Harley) and I'd hoped to encourage people from turning this thread into one about racism.

In re-reading my post, maybe I didn't make that clear. Geez, I'm having a bad day.
posted by jpoulos at 3:54 PM on June 22, 2001

The "rice" in "riceboy," for the most part, is directed at the fact that most of the street racing culture is based on fixing up their once-sensable Japanese made family sedans.

That and the fact that in the SF Bay area, a LOT of racers are Asian American. Not all, but a lot. Most riceboys don't consider that term derogatory at all. After all, they're "street racers" -- "Rice boys" are the type that would paste Honda decals on their Dodge Neon, driving around the mega-movieplex trying to pick up on the hot chicks. It's definately a sub-culture.

Sorry for the sarcasm. I grew up with this.
posted by littleyellowdifferent at 4:03 PM on June 22, 2001

So it's settled: jcterminal's no racist. But y'all knew that and took him at his word up top.

Disclaimer aside though, I'd never heard of any other white/black/Latino drivers of Japanese motorcycles/cars being called by that name. Y'all got tales to take me down a peg or back me up otherwise?

(My dad's bike of choice during the 70s was a Kawasaki. But I never asked him if anybody called him anything other than a black man on a motorcycle -- or dissed him for not reppin' Harley Davidson.)
posted by allaboutgeorge at 5:27 PM on June 22, 2001

Quote from way above thread, and OT:
Then again, don't most youth crazes start on the west coast, jump to the east coast eventually, and then filter into the middle of the country?

My view is the opposite, but may be archaic these days: Youth crazes start in Britain, pop to New York, then meander over to LA, then eventually spread to the rest of the US. However - and this is why I say it might be archaic - we have the web now. Moot point. Teenagers in Terre Haute can be just as up on what's going on as those anywhere (if they care).

Back on topic - street racing has, indeed, been around forever (I think especially outside of the crowded Northeast).

"Riceburners" and "rice rockets" (motorcycles, in the day) are all old terms too - coming out of the Seventies, I think, when the American auto industry was getting detroyed by Toyota, Datsun, and Honda.

(PS - a common derogatory phrase, in Boston, is the phrase "driving while Asian" (DWA) - which refers not to speeding drivers, but pokey slow recent immigrant drivers, who are sadly derided by everyone I know. I try to call people on it whenever I hear it. Racism: the losing battle)
posted by acridrabbit at 5:29 PM on June 22, 2001

Interesting to note that the movie "The Fast and the Furious" was based on an article in Vibe magazine on Japanese (or was it Japanese import?) street racers; if it inspires anyone to race, we've come full circle.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 7:23 PM on June 22, 2001

I fail to understand how anyone can dutifully ridicule what is, basically, a hobby. Street racing has been around for over half a century. I fail to see any difference between import racing/tuning, and the big block V8s of the 50's, 60's and 70's.

Actually, I respect the tuners for what they are able to accomplish with these "econoboxes." A Honda CRX capable of sub-9 second quarter mile times? To someone who knows the smallest bit about cars, that should be impressive. Even the manufactures themselves are releasing mildly street-tuned versions of their models. (Civic Si, Focus SVT, Sentra SE-R Spec V)

As for the aesthetic value of the cars... again, there isn't much of a difference between tuners and those who choose an old Camaro. I think the basic idea behind the entire sport is to offend a basic sensibility. These cars weren't made to cruise at 160, nor be lowered or painted lime green. Take a second to observe the numerous hours invested in each car, in each modification, just to squeeze a few more horsepower from the "sensible" engine.

I don't own an import, nor do I race my silly little GT, but I have respect for someone who is capable of transforming a mild-mannered import economy sedan into a Corvette-killer.
posted by Psionic_Tim at 8:06 PM on June 22, 2001

Ah yes, the movie.

I find it terribly ironic that even though it's a movie about maxed out street racing, which as we have established is a hobby popular with the asians, there appears to be only one asian lookin' guy playing a somewhat lead role (and I only know this from the trailers, where said asian dude apprently gets socked by big white dude. The actual movie could be different). That's what kind of offends me, that it's something that has now made its way onto the big screen from the streets, and it's looking quite far removed from its roots. Did studio execs think that realistic asian leads would make the movie too difficult for the rest of america to relate to?

tsk tsk
posted by Hackworth at 8:17 PM on June 22, 2001

I fail to understand how anyone can dutifully ridicule what is, basically, a hobby.

I respect the people that are hardcore about street racing. I ridicule the rice boys who lower their cars, plaster it with stickers, put on a huge spoiler, and modify their exhaust to sound louder, w/o making any effort at making the cars go faster.

there appears to be only one asian lookin' guy playing a somewhat lead role

I was watching the trailer a few weeks back and commented to a friend "it's not very realistic, is it? In real life, most of those people would actually be Asian."
posted by gyc at 9:34 PM on June 22, 2001

Did studio execs think that realistic asian leads would make the movie too difficult for the rest of america to relate to?

In a heartbeat? Hell yes. But that's a completely different MeFi thread entirely. What's the last time you've seen an movie with REALISTIC Asian leads? And please don't say this movie, I beg you. But I digress.
posted by littleyellowdifferent at 2:34 AM on June 23, 2001

Southwest Philadelphia has a 50 year tradition of illegal street racing. It is the complete opposite of Fast and the Furious tho. Mostly American cars, Mustangs and Trans Ams abound.


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