Street racing

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Street racing is typically an unsanctioned and illegal form of auto racing that occurs on a public road. Racing in the streets is an ancient hazard, as horse racing occurred on streets for centuries, and street racing in automobiles is likely as old as the automobile itself. It became especially prevalent during the heyday of hot rodding and muscle cars and it continues to be both popular and hazardous, with deaths and maiming of bystanders, passengers, and drivers occurring every year. In the United States, modern street racing traces its roots back to Woodward Avenue, Michigan, in the 1960s when the three main Detroit-based American car companies were producing high-powered performance cars. A private racing venue was not always available, and therefore the race would be held illegally on public roads.


Though typically taking place in uncrowded highways on city outskirts or in the countryside, some races are held in industrial complexes. Street racing can either be spontaneous or well planned and coordinated. Well-coordinated races are planned in advance and often have people communicating via two-way radios or citizens' band radio and using police scanners and GPS units to mark locations where local police are more prevelant. Opponents of street racing cite a lack of safety relative to sanctioned racing events, as well as legal repercussions arising from incidents, among street racing's drawbacks.[ citation needed ] Street racing is distinct from the legal and governed sport of drag racing; see terminology below.


Car meets

In its simplest form, "car meets" can be described as gatherings by car enthusiasts and street racers alike with the sole purpose of taking their passions into the public eye. This can often mean something like a large abandoned parking lot, a sizeable location they specifically asked for permission to use, or other locations that are known to be car enthusiast-friendly where they are welcomed.

Tōge racing

The sport of drifting and tōge (also transcribed touge) racing, primarily from Japan, has led to its acceptance in other parts of the world. Tōge – Japanese for "mountain pass", because these races are held on mountain roads and passes – generally refers to racing, one car at a time or in a chase format, through mountain passes (the definition of which varies per locale and racing organization). Examples of such roads include Del Dios Highway [1] in Escondido, California; Genting Sempah in Malaysia; Highway 35; Some portions of British Columbia Highway 1 such as the Malahat drive; and Mount Haruna, on the island of Honshū, in Japan. 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 inherent danger).

Touge races, called Battles, are typically run at night between 2 cars in either "Cat and mouse" or Initial D rules. A series of matches are run with a lead and a chase driver starting either side by side or bumper to bumper at the starting point. If the lead driver manages to create a noticeable gap (also called pulling a gap) between their car and the chase driver by the finish line, he is determined the winner of the match. If the chase driver manages to stay on his opponent's tail, or passes the lead driver to cross the finish line first, he wins the match instead. In the second match, the trailing driver takes the front place and the winner is determined using the same method. If each driver wins one match, sometimes a sudden death match ensues via coin toss to determine the lead position. Sometimes sudden death matches are used when there is not sufficient time to run another 2 matches, or if a driver pleads that his equipment cannot handle the rigour of another round. Whoever wins a sudden death match wins the race. Using Initial D rules, if a driver crashes they lose the race and there are no sudden death matches. If not using Initial D rules, then a crash may mean only losing the match, not just the race. As with all street racing, there are no official rules and any advantage that a competitor has may be used as long as the challenging party agrees to the race.

Not all Touge races are Battles. Groups of racers may meet up for club runs, exhibition, test runs or fun runs without determining winners or losers.


"Sprints", also called "cannonball runs", are illegal point-to-point road rallies that involve a few[ quantify ] racers. They hearken back to the authorized European races at the end of the 19th century. The races died away when the chaotic 1903 Paris–Madrid race was canceled at Bordeaux for safety reasons after numerous fatalities involving drivers and pedestrians. Point-to-point runs reappeared in the United States in the mid-1910s when Erwin George Baker drove cross-country on record breaking runs that stood for years, being legal at the time. The term cannonball was coined for him in honor of his runs. Nowadays drivers will race from one part of a town or country to the other side; whoever makes the fastest overall time is the winner. A perfect example of an illegal road race was the 1970s original Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, also known as "The Cannonball Run", that long-time automotive journalist Brock Yates founded. The exploits spawned numerous films, the best known being The Cannonball Run . Several years after the notorious "Cannonball", Yates created the family-friendly and somewhat legal version One Lap of America where speeding occurs in race circuits and is still running to this day.

In modern society it is rather difficult if not impossible to organize an illegal and extremely dangerous road race, but there are still a few events which may be considered racing, such as the Gumball 3000, Gumball Rally, and Players Run races. These "races", better known as rallies for legality's sake, mostly comprise wealthy individuals racing sports cars across the country for fun. The AKA Rally, however, is designed for individuals with a smaller budget (approximately $3,000). Entrance fees to these events are usually all-inclusive (hotels, food, and events). Participants "rally" together from a start point to predetermined locations until they arrive at the finish line. The AKA Rally in particular has organized driver-oriented events, e.g. autocross or drag strip races, away from public roads to minimize the risk of drivers getting too enthusiastic on public roads. The latter racing community has even spawned numerous TV and video series including the Mischief film series and Bullrun reality TV show. The AKA Rally was featured on MTV in a 2004 episode of True Life and was filmed in 2008 for a six-part series on the Speed TV network. [2] Numerous games are based on the cannonball run type race, most famously Sega's OutRun arcade game. It was also parodied in the 1960s–1970s Hanna-Barbera series Wacky Races .


Circuit racing is a common alternate term for race track, given the circuit configuration of most race tracks, allowing races to occur a number of laps. A street circuit is a motorsport racing circuit composed of temporarily closed-off public roads of a city, town or village, used in motor races. Facilities such as the paddock, pit boxes, fences and grandstands are usually placed temporarily and removed soon after the race is over but in modern times the pits, race control and main grandstands are sometimes permanently constructed in the area. Since the track surface is originally planned for normal speeds, race drivers often find street circuits bumpy and lacking grip. Run-off areas may be non-existent, which makes driving mistakes more expensive than in purpose-built circuits with wider run-off areas. Racing on a street circuit is also called "legal street racing".

Local governments sometimes support races held in street circuits to promote tourism.

Legally sanctioned events

Most often, street racers bring their racers to a sanctioned track. This may occur when very fast cars are pairing up and racers or gamblers or both do not want the outcome of the race to be determined by the conditions of the racing surface, since public roadways do not usually offer the well prepared surface of the sanctioned track. These racers still consider themselves to be street racers since this type of one-on-one racing is not usually contested in sanctioned racing classes, especially if the race involves the common street race type handicaps (as seen in bracket racing). Such races are usually referred to as "grudge races", which are frequently organised in regularly scheduled events at the drag strip ("Test and Tune" days). In some instances, the race track shuts off the scoreboard that typically would display the racer's performance numbers.

Many street-style racers organize entire events at a legally sanctioned tracks.

No Time

The track's timing equipment is shut off and info on the car's performance is only displayed to track personnel for the purpose of enforcing safety rules. Often, even the racer does not know their elapsed time or terminal velocity until the official time slip is handed to the driver at the end of the race. These races typically have cars that are loosely separated into one or more classes based on the types of modifications they have, and are run heads up (no handicaps) in a traditional drag racing eliminator format until the winner is determined.

No Prep

The track surface is not treated with PJ1 Trackbite or other chemicals it would normally be for a traditional event, and sometimes the clocks are turned off (except for the officials and the time slip). The purpose of a no prep race is to simulate the marginal track surface conditions typically found on public roadways. Racers who prefer this type of event typically do so because it allows the competitors to show that their cars could actually be competitive on a public roadway without the need to risk racing on the street. However, this can be controversial. In 2012, the FIA European Drag Racing Championship cancelled championship status at the Hockenheimring round after Formula One authorities demanded all treatment be sandblasted off the entire drag strip as Formula One teams could use the launch pad area (which doubles as the runoff headed to the final turn of the road course) to gain traction in an advantageous way. The track effectively became "no prep" at the drag racing meet weeks later, and after numerous complaints about the no-prep surface the event was run without championship status.

Roll Race

The cars are typically up to 100 meters (110 yards) behind the start line when a signal is given for the cars to go. The cars roll past the Christmas tree at 100 km/h (62 mph) past the timing beams to start the race. This form of drag racing on land is similar to drag boat racing on water.

Instant Green

The Christmas Tree is programmed, once both cars are staged, to skip the yellow light countdown and immediately turn on the green light when the computer activates the start sequence randomly after both cars are staged. This is similar to "stop light" drag racing where street racers left on the traffic light turning green.

Street Drag

A standard race between any two street-legal vehicles, often with slicks prohibited, mandating DOT-spec tires, on the drag strip.

Street Drift

Street drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner. The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn (e.g. car is turning left, wheels are pointed right or vice versa, also known as opposite lock or counter-steering). The sport of drifting is not to be confused with the four wheel drift, a classic cornering technique established. Drifting is traditionally done by clutch kicking, then intentionally oversteering and countersteering.

This event is often held on a road course or a skid pad located at the drag strip, or often on an oval circuit with an infield road course or Figure 8 crossover to create a drifting circuit.


Globally, an "official" lexicon of street racing terminology is difficult to establish as terminology differs by location. Examples of this diversity can be found in the various words utilized to identify the illegal street racers themselves, including hoonigan and boy-racer (New Zealand and Australia), tramero (Spain), hashiriya (Japan), and mat rempit (Malaysia).

Terms common to the United States and other English-speaking countries include:

Nitrous Oxide System – A system in which the oxygen required for burning fuel stems from the decomposition of nitrous oxide (N2O) rather than air, which increases an engine's power output by allowing fuel to be burned at a higher-than-normal rate. Other terms used include the juice, the squeeze, the bottle, and NOS.

Pottstown or Potts Race – When two cars drag race through two or more traffic lights until the losing car stops at a traffic signal. This was popular in the 1980s in the town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, until the borough reduced commonly used streets to a single lane in an effort to deter the practice.

Big Tire race – Two cars that race with a set of tires taller than 28.5 inches tall and or wider than 12.5 inches of tread. Typically this term is used in reference to the rear tires of cars used in straight line racing, and refers to a car that has modifications to the rear framer rails and suspension system to allow the large tires to fit under the car, but sometimes low-budget racers will simply cut the body panels of the car and allow the large tires to extend beyond the body width of the car. Cutting the body is a modification that is considered substandard and if often done to falsely make a car look like it is not built well in the hope of convincing other racers that the car is not very fast, with the hopes the other racers will offer a handicap start. Such rules are also used in legitimate drag racing as classes of cars.

Small Tire race – Two cars that race with a set cars with tires smaller than or equal to 28.5 in and or equal 12.5 in of tread. This type of racing usually assumes that the rear frame rails and suspension are not radically modified. Small tires limit how much power the car can apply to the ground. There are also legally-sanctioned races that separate cars into classes based on tire size and chassis modifications. There are even entire legally sanctioned racing events limited to only small tire cars and cars that use DOT approved legal tires rather than racing slicks. Such rules are also used in legitimate drag racing as classes of cars.

David versus Goliath – When a large tire car races a small tire car.

A dig may refer to all participants toeing a line, aligning the front tire of the vehicles, after which all vehicles race from a stop to a prearranged 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 has stopped racing. This may be accompanied by three honks which would be analogous to a countdown.

To be set out lengths is a system of handicapping that allows a perceived slower car to start their race a number of car lengths ahead and requiring the perceived faster car to catch up and pass the slower car. There are often heated negotiations to determine a fair number. This would be analogous to the bracket racing handicap start format used where one car has a head start over the other. Some drag strips offer such street racing style events.

To get the "go", jump, break, hit, kick, or move is to start the race without the flagger. This is another system of handicapping that requires one car to wait until they see the other car start to move before they are allowed to leave their starting line. In legitimate drag strips that run street racing style events, a jump is used for a red light foul if the Christmas Tree is used.

Another handicap that can be offered, especially in short distance straight races is called "the get off" or "the clear". This stipulation means that at the finish line the rearmost part of the car offering this handicap must be clearly ahead of the frontmost part of the car that is receiving it in order for the front car to be considered the winner. It offers nothing more than the equivalent of one car giving the other a single car length on the starting line, but sometimes makes it appear as if the car giving this handicap is offering something additional to other handicaps.[ clarification needed ]

Another handicap is called "the back tire stage" which means that the car getting this handicap can put its rear tire on the starting line while the car giving it must put their front tires on the starting line.

The Break, the Clear and the Back tire stage are handicaps that can be offered alone or together when racing on the street, but are also compatible when this type of racing is done at a sanctioned racetrack since sanctioned tracks do not always have the means of offering other types of handicaps to street racers who are looking to carry out a street type race at the sanctioned track.

When the back tire stage, the break and the clear are all offered from one racer to another in a single pair type race it is sometimes referred to as the giver saying that they are offering "everything in racing" to their potential competitor. Such language is typically used in front of a large spectator crowd to shame the potential recipient into agreeing to race. It is all about "the hustle". (see below)

A flashlight start occurs when the start of the race is signaled by a flagger turning on a flashlight. At legitimate drag strips with street racing programs, this may be simulated with instant green (where the yellow lights on the Christmas tree are not used; once the cars are staged, a delay may be used, then the green light only is turned on).

In addition to the people racing, there are generally observers present at organized street races. A flagger [3] [4] starts the race; this is typically accomplished by standing in front of the vehicles and making an up-down motion with the arms indicating the race should begin, waving a green flag (which was the case in the early drag races before the development of the Christmas Tree), or flashing a flashlight. There are variations on this theme, including the throwing/dropping of a handkerchief, ribbon, and so on. This act would be analogous to the Christmas Tree in a typical sanctioned drag race, and has been portrayed widely in popular culture, from ZZ Top music videos to American cinema.


There are various motivations for street racing, but typically cited reasons include: [5]

Many street racers, particularly those involved in measured distance quarter or eighth mile racing, consider the sport to be about "the hustle". This could be considered similar to how people like pool sharks or card sharks operate. Basically, each racer will try to downplay how fast their own car really is by using methods of concealing special equipment that other racers might use to judge how fast the car really is. Racers who do this are usually trying to get a handicapped start from a potential opponent, such as the above-mentioned car lengths or starting line "leave". Many such racers will also instigate heated arguments during these negotiations in an effort to confuse or otherwise shame their opponent into offering a handicap term that they might not normally offer. Even in this type of racing there is an honor code. Most racers will consider it cheating if a racer blatantly lies about any part or potential of their own car, even if they were not specifically asked about it. If a racer is specifically asked if they have a part, or modification, or are asked about their engine size, they should answer truthfully. Acceptable lies are often lies of omission. An example of a lie of omission might be when a racer is asked about their engine and replies that they have a "small block engine". Small block engines come in many sizes and configurations, and unless the prospective opponent asks for other information about the engine, they would be left to guess on the engine's potential. A blatant lie would be for a racer to specifically say that they do not have nitrous oxide or other modification or specifically mention horsepower or weight numbers that are inaccurate. Discovery of blatant lies could cause very heated arguments, especially when gambling is involved, and a racer who is caught in the lie is almost always forced to pay up on the bet.

Bets on races often involve "a pot", which means that multiple people have their money betting on one of the cars. A pot allows betters to gamble an amount that they are comfortable with rather than having to find a bettor who wants to gamble exactly the same amount. At the start of the actual race the total pot amounts must be even on each car, which sometimes limits the size of the pot on the more popular car if the less popular car cannot get an equally large pot. Races are often set up in advance, especially when high bets are at stake. Races that are set up in advance may have a "DP" or "punk out money" arranged in advance, which is usually 10 percent of the potential pot, and if one racer fails to show up at the agreed race time the DP is forfeited. Some racers may agree that if one racer leaves the line early or does something that is agreed as unacceptable during the actual race, only the DP money is lost, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the rule is that "if you chase, it is a race", meaning that if one racer jumps and the other racer follows, it is a legitimate race. Another example would be that once a racer leaves the line, even if he jumped, he is considered to have left the line, and if he attempts to back up or simply slow down, he is still considered to have started his race, and the other racer has the right to leave the line at any time and the race is legitimate. So, it is wise for a racer who jumped to continue driving all the way to the finish line. These are considered universal rules among many serious street racers no matter where in the world the race is held.


Dangers can include serious injury, legal consequences, and death. Since 2000, at least 179 people have been killed in street racing related accidents in Los Angeles. [6]

Additional dangers provided by the Kent, Washington police department are as follows. [7]

Because vehicles used in street racing competitions generally lack professional racing safety equipment such as roll cages and racing fuel cells, and drivers seldom wear fire suits and are not usually trained in high-performance driving, injuries and fatalities are common results from accidents. Furthermore, illegal street racers may put ordinary drivers at risk because they race on public roads rather than closed-course, purpose-built facilities, such as Pacific Raceways in the aforementioned city. [7]

Because racing occurs in areas where it is not sanctioned, property damage (torn up yards, signs and posts being knocked down from accidents) and damage to the fences or gates closing an area off (industrial parks, etc.) can occur. As the street racing culture places a very high social value on a fast vehicle, people who might not otherwise be able to afford blazingly fast but very expensive vehicles may attempt to steal them, violently or otherwise. Additionally, street racers tend to form teams which participate in racing together; the implication above[ clarification needed ] is that these teams may be a form of organized crime or gang activity. [7]

Furthermore, a street racing associated by gang activity or other organized crimes may often use violence or other crimes, such as gambling. In addition, a crime-associated street racing may be linked to prostitution, often offered as a "prize" for the winning competitor, as well as extensive gambling.

Types of racers

The predominant age range that participate in racing are those aged between 16 and 25. [9] Male minorities that come from mid to lower social class are more likely to partake in street racing. Results from a survey of 2,395 street racers showed that 33% did not own a driving license and that 14% had been involved in a crash. [10] Crashes usually happen during the night or in the early morning. Street racing is only a small fraction of car crashes. The urge for educational programs to teach people about the negatives of risky driving can minimize the rate of street racing. By doing so, this can help lower the rate of crashes by teenagers. [11]

By country


Street racing in most European countries is illegal. The most common way of street racing is grip on mountain passes, especially in the north of Spain, with roads like Montseny, in Catalonia.


Street racing has been a sub-culture of Greece since the 1970s. Street racing became more organized in the 1980s, and gained public recognition during the 2000s because of magazines like Max Power . The most popular spots are Poseidonos Avenue, Vouliagmeni avenue, Limanakia in Varkiza, Schisto in Korydalos and Kryfi in Marathonas, all of which are in Attica. Other cities or regions like Thessaloniki also have a big street racing sub-culture but not to the extent of Athens because of their population.

Until the mid-1990s, the Greek police did not interfere in street racing; there have been reports of police officers taking part or spectating in them.[ citations needed ] That was about to change when Greek TV channel, Mega, showed a car crash in Limanakia. This completely changed street racing culture in Greece, as the police were forced to crack down on street racing. For that reason a police unit called Sigma squad was created in 1995 which drove high-end sports cars like the BMW M3, the Audi RS2 and the Porsche 930 turbo. [12] The unit was dissolved in 2005 after various crashes and lack of funding.[ citation needed ]

The lack of race tracks (especially outside of Athens) and the massive popularity of cars and motorbikes are the main reasons why street racing is so popular.[ citation needed ]

The most famous[ citation needed ] street racer is 53-year-old Dimitris Papadopoulos, most commonly known by the nickname "Kataramenos", which means "cursed". [13] [ verification needed ] He has driven many cars, such as the Sierra Cosworth, Mazda RX-8, and the most famous one,[ citation needed ] a red Lancer Evolution 7 which he still drives; it held the record for the fastest Lancer Evolution in the world.[ citation needed ] He also was the first person to use Nitro in Greece.[ citation needed ]

Popular cars street racers use are the Citroen Saxo/Peugeot 106, Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf, Seat Cupra and BMW 3 SERIES.[ citation needed ]

Even though street racing has decreased because of the economic crisis, it still remains popular.


On 1 February 2016, two street racers disregarded several red lights and killed a 69-year-old pensioner, a father of two, when one of the drivers rammed his vehicle on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. In February 2017, the Landgericht Berlin sentenced the two drivers for collaborative murder, in the first murder conviction for street racers. [14] The verdict was appealed to the Federal Court of Justice as it was not clear the drivers had driven with deadly intent or criminal negligence. The second trial was started over in August 2018 at which time the drivers had spent two years in detention. [15] The second trial was annulled [16] and a third trial started in November 2018. [17] They were again convicted of murder in 2019. The verdict was again appealed to the Federal Court of Justice, who upheld the murder verdict against the main perpetrator in June 2020. [18]


Italy has a long tradition about street racing and tuned cars.

In the 1960s, a tuned Fiat 500 used to race on the highway near Parma, reaching a maximum speed of 180 km/h (~112 mph).[ citation needed ]

In the 1990s, street racing was very popular in Italy. In Rome, street racers used to conduct car meetups near the Marconi Obelisk and race on the local highways.[ citation needed ] The movie Maximum Velocity (V-Max), was inspired by these events and is a cult classic among Italian car enthusiasts.[ citation needed ]

Most of cars involved in these events were the infamous 'Bare con le ruote', which means 'coffin on wheels', such as the Fiant Punto GT, the Fiat Uno turbo, the Peugeot 106, the Renault Clio Williams and the Renault 5 Turbo.

In the early 2000s, many people were seriously injured or killed during street races. On May 2000, two men driving a stolen BMW lost control of their vehicle during a street race and hit a large crowd, killing a 24-year-old woman. [19] [ verification needed ]

In October 2002, a man named Angelo Giugliano was killed after being hit by two cars involved in a street race in Rome. [20] [ verification needed ]

In the 2010s, track days at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza become more popular with car enthusiasts with burnouts in the tunnel attracting many spectators. Many cars performing burnouts are streetracing vehicles.[ citation needed ]

In the late 2010s and early 2020s legal car meetings become popular in Italy. [21] [ verification needed ] Injuries are still prevalent, such as the BMW driver who hit a crowd and injured some people in Turin in November 2018. [22] [ verification needed ]

Street racing is still popular in Italy, and can divided into highway street racers [23] [ verification needed ] and Tōge racers. [24] [ verification needed ]

Modern hot hatches such as Abarth 500 and Ford Fiesta ST are popular among street racers, but also 1990s and 2000s Japanese and French cars are very common, especially on narrow mountains touges, using Group N car parts and removing interior parts for saving some weight.[ citations needed ]


In Portugal, street racing is illegal, but is still widely popular, mainly among teenagers and young adults between the ages of 18–30. The preferred sites for street racing are industrial areas, freeways, wide streets in the largest cities and expressways connecting locations around them. The main area for the street racing practice in Portugal is the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe, 17.2 km (10.7 mi) long, providing a long and large straight for drag races. Areas where street racing is common usually have automatic speed cameras installed. The races are usually performed at night, when there are fewer drivers on the roads.

Despite the many efforts by the police against the threat, and according to sources from the Public Security Police and the Highway Patrol division of the National Guard, crimes related to street racing are still increasing, which led to the promulgation of a new law that allows one to be convicted of "homicide in the context of a street race" instead of only negligent homicide.

Since the races are now mainly scheduled through SMS and Internet forums, the police maintain a constant vigilance over street racing websites. Also, videos depicting street races on video hosting websites like YouTube help the police to identify locations and individuals and, eventually, prosecute them.

An association of speed-loving volunteers, called Superdrivers, fights for sanctioned racing events to happen every weekend and opposes street racing. They complain that legal racing is only available once or twice a year and under restricted conditions. [25]


Street racing in Australia occurs across the country, most notably in certain suburbs of major cities and semi-rural New South Wales and Victoria. People who participate, specifically the drivers themselves, are referred to as hoons or 'boyracers' in New Zealand. The term is also used as a verb to describe reckless and dangerous driving in general ("to hoon" or "to hoon around").

Street racing began in the late 1960s as the local vehicle manufacturers (Ford Australia, Chrysler Australia and Holden) began creating performance versions of their family cars both for attracting the growing male youth market and meeting racing homologation requirements. Vehicles such as the Chrysler Valiant Pacer offered strong performance at an affordable price, while vehicles from Ford offered even stronger performance at an even more affordable price. While V8s were popular, most street-racers concentrated on tuning the locally designed and built Chrysler 265ci Hemi, Holden 202ci and Ford 250ci six-cylinder engines used in the Chrysler Valiant, Chrysler Valiant Charger, Holden Torana, Holden Monaro, Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.

Laws exist in all states and territories that limit modifications done to vehicles and prohibit having nitrous oxide hooked up to, or even present inside a car. In most states and territories, P-Plater (Provisional Drivers) are not allowed to drive any vehicle with more than six cylinders as well as turbo. In most states further laws impose strong penalties for street racing such as confiscating or impounding the vehicle and loss of license.

Australia has lower reported levels of this behavior than New Zealand related to street racing, due in part to the size of the Australian continent and much of it occurring undetected in remote rural locations or at odd hours. Stricter rules have recently[ when? ] been imposed on safety features of imported cars, reducing the volume of small and cheap Japanese imports that are typically modified with loud exhaust tips and cut-down coil springs by boy racers. [26]


In Brazil, street races are commonly known as "pegas" or "rachas". [27] Since 1997, the National Traffic Code of Brazil prohibits street racing, stunts, dangerous moves and related competitions in public streets; racers may have their driving licenses and cars confiscated, besides paying a fine and going to jail from six months to two years. [28] Popular street racing venues are often discovered by police after receiving information from Crime Stoppers. [27] In such cases, plainclothes officers are first sent to check if the information is correct. If so, the roads leading out of the place are blocked and the competitors arrested. [27]

Legal amateur racing is possible in some places. For example, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, the venue for the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix, hosts regular amateur racing events with appropriate infrastructure. Some racecourses have events such as track days or drag racing with cars split into categories by power. [27]


A driver convicted of a causing a street racing fatality can be sentenced to life imprisonment as a maximum term, with full parole possible after serving 7 years in prison. A driver convicted of injuring another person in the course of a street race is subject to a prison term of at most 14 years. [29]

Every one commits an offence who operates... a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place; [30]


In 2015, police conducted a raid, arresting 13 Hong Kong residents, who were fined and sentenced to between one and four months' jail, after being caught driving at up to 275 km/h (171 mph). The drivers, who drove a fleet of luxury sport cars including Ferraris, Lamborghinis and McLarens, were arrested at the border in Shenzhen trying to return to Hong Kong. [31]

The law under which this arrest took place was enacted in 2010 after Hu Bin, a Hangzhou student, mounted the sidewalk in a street race, killing a pedestrian. A public outcry ensued, as Hu came from a wealthy family, while the victim was his family's sole income earner. [32] Hu was sentenced to three years in prison and was fined 1.1 million yuan as well as an unspecified driving ban. [33]


Street racers, known natively as hashiriya (走り屋), [34] often run their cars on expressways and highways, where they are known as kōsoku battle or commonly known as Roulette-zoku as they drive round and round in circular motions [34] and frequently occur on the Shuto Expressway in Tokyo. Japanese racers have also popularized racing along the narrow winding roads of the mountains of the country, known as touge (portrayed in the manga/anime series Initial D ). The expressway racing scene is portrayed in the manga Wangan Midnight , as well as in the movie series Shuto Kousoku Trial .

The most notorious group to be associated with street racing was the Mid Night Club, who became world famous for their speeds, at times exceeding 300 km/h (190 mph).[ citation needed ]

With heavier punishments, patrolling police cars, crackdowns in meeting areas and the installation of speed cameras, expressway racing in Japan is not as common today[ when? ] as it was during the 1980s and the 1990s. Still, it occurs on a not-so-regular basis. Persistent racers often install spring-assisted license-plate swivelling mechanisms that hold plates down at speed or picture-proof screens over their plates. In 2001, the amount of hashiriya dropped from 9,624 (in 1995) to 4,365 and police arrests in areas where hashiriya gather are common. Cars are checked for illegal modification and if found, owners are fined and forced to remove the offending modifications.

One of the causes of street racing in Japan is that, despite the fame and large number of race circuits, these circuits can become overcrowded. Furthermore, such circuits may cost as much as ¥20,000 to race, [34] while the highway toll may cost less than ¥1,000. [34]

As in other countries, street racing also occurs on long straights in industrial areas, which are used for drag races, known natively as Zero-Yon (ゼロヨン) for "0–400" (meters), Yon is Japanese for "4". This practice gave its name to the popular 1990s video game franchise, Zero4 Champ series .


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, Penang, Johor Bahru, and other cities or towns in the country have become sites for racing. Among the participants are teenagers driving modified cars or riding motorcycles.

Motorcycle street racers in Malaysia are known in Malay language as Mat Rempit . These Mat Rempit are infamous 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. In addition to doing their stunts and racing around, they have a habit of causing public disorder. They usually travel in large groups and at times raid isolated petrol stations. They can cordon off normal traffic flow to allow their friends to race along a predetermined circuit.

Most illegal car racers in Malaysia use modified common cars or bargain performance cars. Some of the commonly used cars include national cars such as the Proton Wira, Proton Saga, Proton Perdana, Proton Satria, Proton Waja, or Japanese cars such as the first-generation Nissan Cefiro, Nissan Silvia, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Subaru Impreza, the new Nissan GT-R, Nissan 180SX, Honda Integra, and Toyota AE86. High-performance western cars such as Ferrari F430, BMW M3 E46, and Porsche Cayman have also been used. Illegal drift racing often takes place on dangerous hill roads such as Bukit Tinggi, Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands or Teluk Bahang, Penang. Meanwhile, illegal drag racing takes place on expressways such as the Second Link Expressway in Johor Bahru. Illegal racers can be distinguished by their over-modified vehicles which do not follow road regulations in Malaysia. [35]

On 3 May 2009 the Bukit Aman Traffic Division of the Royal Malaysian Police, together with the Road Transport Department, once again launched a major integrated operation to crack down on both cars and Mat Rempit motorcycles involved in illegal racing. More than 115 motorcycles were impounded in the major operation which was held simultaneously in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan. [36]

New Zealand

New Zealand has strict rules on vehicle modifications and a registered engineer must audit any major modification and certify roadworthiness within a system known as the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association. The LVVTA exists to service legal motorsport and responsible modifications only, but the system is prohibitively expensive and seems to be engineered to discourage hot rodding rather than promote it. Unofficial street racing remains illegal and police are well endowed with equipment to use, such as 'sustained loss of traction' which carries a minimum sentence of licence disqualification and maximum sentence of imprisonment. Street racing is common in New Zealand and there are many small clubs offering street racing in remote rural roads. Despite its popularity, rates of incident due to street racing in New Zealand are relatively low. [37]


In Turkey, street racing is illegal. Since the 1960s street racing has been a sub-culture of the Bağdat Avenue in Istanbul, where young wealthy men tag-raced their imported muscle cars. Most of these young men are now middle-agers reliving their years of excitement as famous professional rally or track racers. With the heightened GTI and hot hatch culture starting in the 1990s, street racing was revived in full. Towards the end of the 1990s, mid-night street racing caused many fatal accidents, which came to a minimum level due to intense police patrol. [38]

United States

There is a strong racing culture in California, [8] particularly Southern California. It is considered to be the birthplace of North American drag racing. [39] This area was covered in some depth by magazines[ citation needed ] such as Turbo and Hi-Tech Performance and Sport Compact Car in the late 1990s.[ citation needed ]

In some cases, this popularity has led to tough anti-street racing laws which give stricter punishments (including misdemeanors for attending race events) than normal traffic citations and also often involve dedicated anti-racing task forces. San Diego, in Southern California was the first US city to allow the arrest of spectators attending street races. [40] Penalties for violating street racing laws can now[ when? ] include impoundment and possibly the destruction of the offending vehicle, the suspension or revocation of the offender's driver's license, or both. [40]

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. This has also led to a campaign introduced in 2000 called Racers Against Street Racing (RASR), a grass-roots enthusiast group consisting of auto manufacturers, after-market parts companies, professional drag racers, sanctioning bodies, race tracks and automotive magazines devoted to promoting the use of safe and legal raceways as an alternative to street racing. [41] [42] 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. Except San Diego, popular racing locations have been Los Angeles, Miami, Long Beach, Oakland, San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, and the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington.


In the 1970s the movies American Graffiti and The Hollywood Knights played a key role in the expansion of street racing and the joy of owning a hot rod. This much later catapulted[ colloquialism ] the highly successful film series The Fast and the Furious , which is based on street racing, although later Fast and Furious films starting with Fast Five transitioned the series to heists, and action, with fewer street races seen in the films. Redline also gives a significant overview of what street racing is. Torque also gives an insight to the world of street racing, as shown in the beginning when the protagonist Cary Ford passes two street racers before going to a diner, although the movie is more about the use of high-performance motorbikes than cars. A documentary film, Speed and Mayhem Down Under, shows the real street racing scene in Australia. Also, in Japanese anime and manga series Initial D portrayed street racing in Japan, on touge.

Video games

One of the oldest and longest running street racing video game franchises is the Japanese Shutokou Battle series which has seen dozens of releases on a variety of platforms starting in 1994 on the Super Famicom. It is known in NTSC-U and PAL territories with names such as Tokyo Xtreme Racer, Tokyo Highway Challenge, Street Supremacy or Import Tuner Challenge, and takes inspiration from Wangan and Tōge racing as well as track racing.

The street racing video game series Midnight Club has been very successful in the market and is available on many platforms. This series includes the first title Midnight Club for the PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance; Midnight Club II for the PlayStation 2, PC and Xbox; and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and then later released on the PlayStation Portable. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix was later released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Midnight Club: Los Angeles was the first of the series to be released on seventh generation video game consoles.

Several missions in the popular Grand Theft Auto video game series see the player participating in races on the city streets. While a few are mandatory, most are offered as side-missions that the player can undertake to earn money. Some of these missions often involve vehicular combat in addition to regular street racing, with the player required to attack opponents via drive-by shooting, in order to damage their vehicles or kill the opposing driver.

The Need for Speed series originally started on the 3DO system in 1994. Although the earlier games were noted for daytime racing on public roads with high-performance cars of their times, several later titles affiliated with street racing, which came out after the Midnight Club series was established, after Midnight Club II in particular. Among them, the Underground series (encompassing Need for Speed: Underground and Need for Speed: Underground 2 ), takes place at night in various urban areas, but lacks any police to pursue the player. Need for Speed: Most Wanted reintroduces police pursuit into gameplay and is set in daytime. It also draws controversy by encouraging the player to damage police cars by any means necessary to acquire bounty. The next Need for Speed title, Need for Speed: Carbon sees the return of night time racing and features police pursuits, although not mandatory to damage police cars as in the previous installment. The 2007 Need for Speed title, Need for Speed: ProStreet has gotten rid of the illegal street racing, and is now entirely legal, closed-track races, with no police involvement much to the disappointment of some of the series' fans (and worse reviews by most video game reviewers). [43] The next title, Need for Speed: Undercover , does return to illegal street racing and features gameplay similar to Most Wanted and Carbon. Unlike Most Wanted and Carbon, this time the plot involves an undercover police officer who is trying to break up an international crime ring; however, the game was very badly reviewed, and considered by many to be the low point of the series. Two Need for Speed titles, Need for Speed: Nitro and Need for Speed: World Online , also feature street racing, whereas Need for Speed: Shift again returns to legal racing, much like Need For Speed: ProStreet , but this time with much more emphasis on realism and driving style Precision or Aggression. Need for Speed (2015) returns the player to the streets, again in the night. Need for Speed: Heat is the latest entry in the franchise. Released on November 8th, 2019, the game features legal, sanctioned races during the daytime, and illegal street racing during the night. The game also features a return of free-roaming police after their absence in previous entry, Need for Speed Payback .

The popular multi-platform (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox, PSP, GameCube) series Burnout showcases fictional cars racing at high speed through traffic, with crashes rewarded by highly detailed slow motion destruction sequences. Later iterations include specific competition modes rewarding the largest monetary damage toll in specifically designed maps.

Another game that features street racing is Juiced by THQ. The game mentions that it was developed with the intention of giving the gamer the thrill of high-speed driving.

To meet commercial expectations, these games often compromise the realism of the car handling physics to give the user an easier gameplay experience. The greatest disparity is that most games have the player's vehicle being completely indestructible. This makes it possible to devise strategies that would be impossible in real life, such as using a wall to stop lateral velocity through a turn rather than picking an appropriate line. [44] [45]

The Cruis'n series is also associated with street racing. The 1994 arcade game Cruis'n USA has several references to street racing, like real cars and an upgrading system such as spoilers, decals, neon lights, ground effects, and engines. However unlike in Need For Speed , there is not a pursuit system nor car damage.

The classic arcade game, which is also for the Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, PC, PSP, and GBA, Crazy Taxi , has similarities to an illegal street race. Players choose a driver and a convertible taxicab without any seat belts, car hood, or car windows, and get passengers to their destinations while driving as if taking part in illegal street races all over San Francisco, New York, and Las Vegas.

Several racetracks in the Mario Kart series involve street racing on a public road with traffic acting as hazards such as cars, buses, and trucks. The first game to include this feature is Mario Kart 64 , and it has appeared at least once in subsequent games.

The Rush arcade racing games featured street racing in simplified versions of real-world cities with the first and third game taking place in San Francisco, California. The second game, however, had races in all sorts of cities all over the United States. These game did not feature any traffic to interfere with the race.

See also

Related Research Articles

Auto racing Motorsport involving the racing of cars for competition

Auto racing is a motorsport involving the racing of automobiles for competition.

Drag racing Type of motor racing

Drag racing is a type of motor racing in which automobiles or motorcycles compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line. The race follows a short, straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most commonly 14 mi, with a shorter distance becoming increasingly popular, as it has become the standard for Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars, where some major bracket races and other sanctioning bodies have adopted it as the standard. The 18 mi is also popular in some circles. Electronic timing and speed sensing systems have been used to record race results since the 1960s.

Open-wheel car Type of automobile

An open-wheel car is a car with the wheels outside the car's main body, and usually having only one seat. Open-wheel cars contrast with street cars, sports cars, stock cars, and touring cars, which have their wheels below the body or inside fenders. Open-wheel cars are built both for road racing and oval track racing. Street-legal open-wheel cars, such as the Ariel Atom, are very scarce as they are often impractical for everyday use.

Sports Car Club of America

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is a non-profit American automobile club and sanctioning body supporting road racing, rallying, and autocross in the United States. Formed in 1944, it runs many programs for both amateur and professional racers.

Stock car racing Form of automobile racing

Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly and most prominently in the United States and Canada, with Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil and the United Kingdom also having forms of stock car auto racing. Traditionally, races are run on oval tracks measuring approximately 0.25 to 2.66 miles. The world's largest governing body for stock car racing is the American NASCAR, and its NASCAR Cup Series is the premier top-level series of professional stock car racing. Top-level races typically range between 200 and 600 miles in length. The cars were originally production models ("stock") but are now highly modified.

Kart racing or karting is a variant of motorsport road racing with open-wheel, four-wheeled vehicles known as go-karts or shifter karts. They are usually raced on scaled-down circuits, although some professional kart races are also held on full-size motorsport circuits. Karting is commonly perceived as the stepping stone to the higher ranks of motorsports, with former Formula One champions such as Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso having begun their careers in karting.

National Hot Rod Association North American drag auto racing organization

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is a drag racing governing body, which sets rules in drag racing and hosts events all over the United States and Canada. With over 40,000 drivers in its rosters, the NHRA claims to be the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world.

Motorsport Sport primarily involving the use of motorized vehicles

Motorsport, motorsports or motor sport is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive sporting events which primarily involve the use of motorised vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition. The terminology can also be used to describe forms of competition of two-wheeled motorised vehicles under the banner of motorcycle racing, and includes off-road racing such as motocross.

Need for Speed (NFS) is a racing video game franchise published by Electronic Arts and currently developed by Criterion Games, the developers of Burnout. The series centers around illicit street racing and in general tasks players to complete various types of races while evading the local law enforcement in police pursuits. The series released its first title, The Need for Speed, in 1994. The most recent game, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, was released on November 6, 2020. The next game in the series, which is currently still under development, is expected to be released either in late 2021 or in early 2022.

Road racing Form of motorsport racing on tracks that contain both right and left turns

Road racing is a form of motorsport racing held on a paved road surfaces. The races can be held either on a closed circuit or on a street circuit utilizing temporarily closed public roads. Originally, road races were held almost entirely on public roads however, public safety concerns eventually led to most races being held on purpose built racing circuits.

<i>Need for Speed: Underground</i> 2003 racing video game

Need for Speed: Underground is a 2003 racing video game and the seventh installment in the Need for Speed series. It was developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. Two different games were produced, one for consoles and Windows, and the other for the Game Boy Advance.

Dirt track racing is a form of motorsport held on clay or dirt surfaced oval race tracks often used for thoroughbred horse racing. Dirt track racing started in the United States before World War I and became widespread during the 1920s and 1930s using both automobiles and motorcycles. Two different types of race cars dominate — open wheel racers in the Northeast and West and stock cars in the Midwest and South. While open wheel race cars are purpose-built racing vehicles, stock cars can be either purpose-built race cars or street vehicles that have been modified to varying degrees.. There are hundreds of local and regional racetracks throughout the nation. The sport is also popular in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Ice racing Form of racing that uses cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, or other motorized vehicles

Ice racing is a form of racing that uses cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, or other motorized vehicles. Ice racing takes place on frozen lakes or rivers, or on groomed frozen lots. As cold weather is a requirement for natural ice, it is usually found at higher latitudes in Canada, the northern United States, and in northern Europe, although limited indoor events are held in warmer climates, typically on ice hockey rinks. Tracks in North America vary from 1/4 mile to several mile-long circuits.

Burnout (vehicle) Practice of spinning wheels while keeping vehicle stationary

A burnout is the practice of keeping a vehicle stationary and spinning its wheels, the resultant friction causing the tires to heat up and smoke.

Indy Pro 2000 Championship American automobile racing series

The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, formerly known as the Pro Mazda Championship, debuted as a new series in 2013, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by IndyCar and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Road to Indy ladder system bridging the gap between the Cooper Tires U.S. F2000 Championship and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. The series' champion is awarded a scholarship package to advance to Indy Lights competition the following year. It competes on all open-wheel disciplines: road courses, street courses, and ovals. The series' primary sponsor is Cooper Tires.

Motorcycle racing Racing sport using motorcycles

Motorcycle racing is the motorcycle sport of racing motorcycles. Major varieties include motorcycle road racing and off-road racing, both either on circuits or open courses, and track racing. Other categories include hill climbs, drag racing and land speed record trials.

Calder Park Raceway Motorsport track in Australia

Calder Park Raceway is a motor racing circuit in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The complex includes a dragstrip, a road circuit with several possible configurations, and the "Thunderdome", a high-speed banked oval equipped to race either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

The following is a glossary of terminology used in motorsport, along with explanations of their meanings.

American autocross

American autocross is a form of autocross, an individual motorsport in which drivers compete to set the fastest time on a temporary course. Events are usually held on large paved areas, such as parking lots or airfields. Courses consist of turns, offsets, and slaloms marked by traffic cones; new courses are typically created for each event.

Motor sport in New Zealand

Motor sport in New Zealand can be traced back to a least 1901 when the Pioneer Cycle Club held a three-mile handicap race which included both motor bikes and cars. Since then it has developed and now almost all types of motor sport events are represented.


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