Johnny Hidalgo Blacktop Adrenaline Have you ever jumped the line when the light turns green;

or controlled your car while sliding it at average speeds of 65-90 miles per hour? If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you don’t know about drag racing and drifting. Popular motorsports that have captivated audiences around the world to the same magnitude as baseball and boxing. Both involve head to head pair –ups at which the drivers put their skills as well as their vehicles’ capabilities to the test. Drag racing involves driving from start to finish in the shortest amount of time at the highest speed one can achieve. Drifting on the other hand involves opponents sliding their cars next to one another, building points based on: line, angle, speed, and show factor. Drifting bases its origin in Japan originally with a driver by the name of Kunimitsu Takahashi in the 1970’s. He created the foremost drifting techniques when he would slide corners hitting the apex of the turn (the point closest to the corner). But it wasn’t until a young street racer turned professional driver named Keiichi Tsuchiya, that drifting began to gain recognition. He began drifting on the mountain roads, this was the start of the drifting culture with touge racing (mountain racing). Around the late 1980s he met up with Option Magazine founder and chief editor Daijiro Inada, with whom he organized one of the first drifting competitions in Japan. This to this day has spread around the world under the name D1 Grand Prix Professional Drift. Here in America we hold a smaller competition called Need for Speed Formula Drift. Which is the Americanized drifting. The competition is judged based on line, angle, speed, and show factor. The show factor is judged on multiple factors: amount of smoke, car’s distance from the wall, and crowd reaction. Angle is the car’s angle during the drift. Speed is the car’s speed going into the turn, during the turn, and coming out of the turn. Judging takes place on a small portion of an entire course, where the judges receive a good view at which to rate the performance of the racers. Drifting events usually take place on a two day bases, the first day is qualifying; where drivers are given a speed run through the course in order to place in the top sixteen. The second day is the tandem passes, where the qualifying sixteen drivers are matched up and prepared to race. Tandem passes known as Tsuiso in Japanese is a chase attack. Each match up is given two runs, where each driver is given an opportunity to lead the run. Points are awarded each pass, but only one driver prevails and moves on. The competition begins with eight match ups, then the next four in the semi- finals, and the last two in the finals. In drifting there are vehicle requirements. The cars normally range from light to moderate weight. The most widely used cars for drifting are Nissan: Silvia/180sx/240sx, Skyline, and 350Z or Fairlady Z; Toyota: Supra MKIV, Corolla (AE86), SoarerMZ20, Chaser (in Japan only); Mazda: RX-7, Miata. The cars are predominately rear wheel drive, manual transmission. This is needed because many techniques involve use of the clutch, or shift lock, in different combinations. Due to drifting’s spectator-friendly nature, it has received a good deal of hype in pop culture. More and more video games are featuring the races well as cartoons like the very popular Initial D. Videos are released on drift events happening in Japan as well as California. The biggest video franchise being JDM Option. This kind of popularity is what caused a spawn in drifting in the street. Since before “Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift” Kids in Japan and the United States have been using local roads to hold their own drift shows. In America many young men decide to race their cars in parking garages, around certain highways. They build a reputation around the car world, as well as their friends. Usually racing for money, respect, and many times the pink slips to the other car. A good deal of people have been killed doing this, due to the fact that many don’t know what they are doing, or don’t know the limitations of their vehicle. Other times if police are tipped off as to the events going on, they will go and break it up and arrest the racers on two charges: reckless driving(sliding the cars), and racing. That is why people give those disclaimers on videos or video games “Leave the racing to

the professionals or in the game.” However drifting’s dangers and thrill cannot fully compare to the thrills of drag racing. Drag racing dates back to the mid to late 1930’s with guys running their hot rods. Drag racing by definition is an acceleration contest between vehicles. Drag Racer- noun; drag racing- noun. Second definition celebration of straight-line speed. The normal distance for racing is a quarter mile or 1,320 ft. Drag racing became sanctioned by a gentleman named Wally Parks. This was the start of the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag racing. In 1953 NHRA held the very first sanctioned race in Los Angeles County fairgrounds parking lot, located in Ponoma, Cali. The NRHA is the longest running drag competition in the United States. Drag racing began with rear wheel drive cars running, but as time moved on and newer cars came out with different drive trains, drag racing evolved with it. With the introduction of front wheel drive, all wheel drive. Drag racing is set up with two light beams across the starting line. Those beams are connected to trackside photocells; which run to the christmas trees on both sides of the track. All of this works together to give an accurate time and speed at the end of the run. If a driver jumps the line before the lights go green at the start. That racer forfeits that run. Normally if both racers don’t have any false starts it becomes who can make it to the end faster, if it is hard to judge by view the trees give the final reading. In drag racing if the car runs thirteen seconds or less the car has to have a roll cage for the protection of the driver. As for any special license to race a driver only needs a valid state driver’s license to compete. The cars that partake range from the traditional top fuel dragsters to funny cars. Which now include imports. Your traditional top fuel dragsters are the long thin cars; vehicles that harbor a massive big block with incredible output capacity. The car is engineered to have all the bulk in the back, from the monstrous rear tires, to the enormous spoiler (wing). The front on the other hand is miniscule utilizing small spoke tires. The funny cars which every drag race fanatic watches on speed channel are fiberglass bodies’ normally one whole piece, and then the mechanical workings of the car. A big block v8 sometimes running nitrous which isn’t uncommon on all cars. The fiberglass bodies are painted to look like real street cars. I recall watching on speed channel with a friend, we were watching nhra with some insane speed records being held. One car was sponsored by Monster Energy Drink, a Dodge Charger that was running an average of 450mph on the quarter mile. However now with he rising popularity of import cars many people are using Japanese cars to compete in an area that was once dominated by domestics. Around 2003 Nopi (Number One Parts Inc.) introduced the NDRA (Nopi Drag Racing Association) which brought a new breed of drag racers. A sport that is dominated by the tuner cars. The categories range from pro stock all the way to pro outlaw. Featuring cars from Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan (Datsun), and some mustangs. Nothing is changed in the frame of the vehicle, only engine work is done; strip down of the interior, modified braking system. From many forms of drag racing on the track one finds street racing overlapping the whole scene. Street racing can be either spontaneous or well planned out. A spontaneous race happens when two cars line up at an intersection and take off when the light goes green. A well-planned out street race is set up the day(s) before the race and is coordinated by people talking through 2-way radios, as well as utilizing police scanners in order to avoid police hot spots. In organized street racing there is usually one person signaling for the racers to commence racing, either by waving their hands, dropping a handkerchief or anything of the sort; this is to recreate the tree at a drag strip. People tend to street race because they are either too young to participate in other activities of entertainment such as bars. Many wish to prove that their car can put out the power equivalent to the money invested into it. The thrill of racing without entry fees, or the politics of the drag strip. The Possible police chase is an adrenaline rush for many people. As well as to settle arguments. Personally I have street raced spontaneously; people would line up against me and rev their

engines. The longest race I have ever done was four miles against a Mercedes Benz C-class. From Sunset Place to the plaza by the old South Dade 8 movie theater. I held the lead of two traffic lights ahead which was about two blocks going down US 1. I honestly do not regret racing that person, it was a rush. But the consequences far surpass the thrill. Many times police will chase you down and they will catch you. If caught you and the other person involved go to jail for street racing. Main consequence is death, plenty of people that street race don’t know when to let off the gas and crash. Whether into a tree, another car, or a building. That’s why parents and adults say that speed kills. At those speeds a person and the vehicle become a projectile, and whatever they hit will hit hard. Parents and other authority officials believe that kids begin to street race because their friends are doing it, or they see it on tv or in a movie. The Fast and the Furious franchise spawned a new type of car culture. People wanted to make their cars look and work like the ones in the movie. People began racing more and running from police. Those movies simply opened the door to what was already going on, but brought it to the attention of a bigger crowd. The true die hard race fans watch the sanctioned competitions on television or go to see it live. That’s when you see young people say that they wish to be like that guy they saw racing on the track. Another factor is reputation, people want to build a reputation as the best racer out there; that’s when people begin to challenge other people to races at certain times and places. If not guys do it to impress women, because women like thrill, danger, and excitement. That’s why guys make their cars stand out from the rest. Finally it’s the cars, every guy has one car in mind that they’ve always wanted or already have and want to make it unique. For me I want to acquire the Nissan Silvia s15, from Japan. It stands out as one of a kind and has a sleekness that you don’t find here in the states. That’s what drives me to do this sort of activity: the cars, the women, and the reputation. Vin Diesel said it like this in “Fast and Furious,” I live my life a quarter mile at a time, nothing else matters, not my problems, the mortgage, not my friends and all their problems. For those ten seconds or less I’m free.