Up All Night with the Demons of Speed
Meet the hardcore drivers who block off city streets and highways to revel in the high-speed thrills of illegal drag racing.
Driving in a racecar is no time for sightseeing. Speed distorts everything. The desire for more of it is inherited from when you thought your toy racecar could go faster than his toy racecar; you’d take your mark, say vroom and try to reach the make-believe finish line first. When Mattel launched Hot Wheels toy cars in the ‘60s, kids were hooked because matched head-to-head with Matchbox cars, Hot Wheels would win. Racing is the pursuit of speed, speed that’s strong and loud. A racecar never purrs. It buzzes, even shrieks. The louder it gets, the faster it goes. The sound was described to me as “trying to drown a weed whacker in a bathtub.” It’s throaty, as if the guts of the car are running exposed. To some, it’s noise. To others, it’s music, the sound of a well-tuned instrument, its perfect pitch. Speed isn’t the type of fun that needs to be rationalized. Speed is simple. Speed is a game.
This is how a street race usually goes: drivers meet near the desi…