Street racing is a form of unsanctioned and illegal auto racing which takes place on public roads. Street racing can either be spontaneous or well-planned and coordinated. Spontaneous races usually occur at intersections where two cars stop at a red light before they begin racing. Well coordinated races, in comparison, are planned in advance and often have people communicating via 2-way radio/citizens' band radio and using police scanners and GPS units to mark locations of local police hot spots. (See participants, below). Street racing is reported to have originated prior to the 1930s due to alcohol prohibition in some parts of the United States. At the time smugglers of unrefined and illegal alcohol would try to find ways to make more power and achieve better handling from their engine and suspension. Aside from being the basis of stock car racing, this became common after the war, and as a result, it is credited as being the origin of drag racing as well.

Types of racing encountered on the streetEdit

Drag Racing is a race which involves two or more competitors who drive in a straight line for a specified distance (usually a 1/4 mile). The driver that covers the most distance between the two cars or reaches the end first is the winner. Fundamental skills in drag racing are the ability to launch with minimal wheelspin and quick shifting skills. Reaching the engine's redline happens in almost every race to get the full power out of the car's engine, but depending on the types of cars racing, the shift points may vary, as certain engines do not achieve full power at that point. This imposes the risk of critical engine damage if a redline misshift occurs.

A more common form of racing, in which two or more cars compete until one party is the clear winner. This differs from the above mentioned drag race, in which a set distance on a straight road is traversed. Drivers typically line up while moving under the posted speed limit. Once all the cars are ready, one car will sound its horn three times; the third time is the final signal to start the run. A car simply outruns the other vehicles by a considerable margin in order to win. If the winner cannot be determined, it is usually decided upon a mutual agreement, or having another race. Another way to signal a race is by flashing the vehicle's high-beams. This is typically run by high horsepower cars.

Touge RacingEdit

Main article: touge

The sport of drifting and touge racing from (primarily) Japan has led to its acceptance in other parts of the world. Touge (pronounced "toe-gay"; 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 Grand Cenral Parkway, Clearview Expressway, Route 80, Union Turnpike Del Dios Highway in Escondido, California, 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 danger inherent). Touge races are typically run in a best out of three format. Opponent A starts the first race with Opponent B directly behind. The winner is determined by the time difference between the cars at the finish line. For instance, if Opponent A has pulled away from Opponent B at the finish line, he is determined the winner. If Opponent B has managed to stay on Opponent A's tail, he is determined the winner. For the second race, Opponent B starts off in front and the winner is determined using the same method.

Cannonball RunsEdit

"Cannonball Runs" are illegal point-to-point road rallies that involve a handful of 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 who drove cross-country on record breaking runs that stood for years, being legal at the time, and the term "Cannonball" was penned 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, aka "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, 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 $3000). 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.[1] The Cannonball run type race also spawned numerous games of its type, most famously Sega's OutRun arcade game. It was also parodied in the 1960s-70s Hanna-Barbera series Wacky Races.


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

Any or all of the below mentioned activities may be considered illegal, depending on location of the race.

In addition to the people racers, there are generally observers present at organized street races.

Race specificsEdit

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

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

To be set out lengths is a system of handicapping that allows a slower car to start their race a number of car lengths ahead and requiring the faster car to catch up and pass the slower car. There are often heated negotiations to determine a fair number.

To get the break, 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.

To jump is to leave the line before the flagger has started the race, either with his/her hands, a flashlight, dropping a shirt, etc. Generally if a racer jumps, the other racer has the option to sit at the starting line. If the flagger agrees that a racer jumped then usually the race is redone. If both racers leave the starting line, regardless if one or both jumped the race is considered legitimate. Also known as the hit.


There are various motivations for street racing, but typically cited reasons include

  • Generally, street racing is not sanctioned and thus leads to a less rigorously controlled environment than sanctioned racing, to the enjoyment of some participants.
  • Street racing is cited as an activity which is available to people who are otherwise under-age for entertainment at traditional venues such as bars.
  • A community generally springs up around the street racing "scene", providing social interaction among the participants and cliques therein.
  • The opportunity to prove the worth of one's money invested in a vehicle.
  • The simple and uncomplicated excitement of racing without the entry fees, rules and politics, typical of the sport.
  • The excitement of racing when law enforcement is certain to give chase.
  • A lack of proper, sanctioned racing venues in the locale.
  • Street races are sometimes wagered on, either by the participants or observers. This is the origin of the term "racing for pink slips" (which means that the winner keeps the opponent's car), which inspired the 2005 Speed Channel series Pinks. This, in real life, seldom happens; most wagers involve cash (as in Pinks: All Out).
  • To settle a bet, dispute, etc between fellow racers (ex. one believes that they are the better person, vice versa, and turns into an argument, which leads to a race (if it comes down to that)).



Street racing in Australia is most prevalent in its two largest cities; Melbourne and Sydney, and occurs far less often elsewhere in the country. People who participate, specifically the drivers themselves, are referred to as hoons in both Australia and New Zealand. The term is also used as a verb to describe reckless and dangerous driving in general ("to hoon" or "to hoon around").

In Melbourne, since the 1970s, several legal off-street racing events have been held regularly at Calder Park Raceway (recent additions include drifting events). More recently, legal on-street racing events have been organized and sanctioned by Victoria Police to encourage people to participate in the events safely. Street racing is also prominent in the Victorian country towns of Sunbury and Shepparton.

Sometimes in Australia, people have impromptu drag races with others when stopped at traffic lights. Although illegal, most racers are aware of the de facto rules surrounding the drag. To signal ones intention to race, one may look over and make eye contact with the other driver. Alternatively, or to get their attention, the engine may be revved. The race then starts when the green light comes on, and concludes when it is won by the person who reaches the speed limit first. Impromptu drag racing is most likely to occur on a multi lane highway, with many people in the car.

Australians tend to prefer locally-manufactured muscle carsTemplate:Fact, such as Holden Monaros, Toranas, Commodores and Ford Falcons, which feature V8 engines, as well as a little American muscle.Template:Fact A growing trend is use of cars such as Nissan Skyline GT-Rs and similar turbocharged all wheel drives.Template:Fact

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 further laws impose strong penalties for street racing such as confiscating/impounding the vehicle and loss of license.

In Queensland there is an ever growing scene that is gradually gaining popularity. There are many places where races are held in Brisbane proving to be one of the more popular in the south side.


Hong Kong Edit

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

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

Japan Edit

Street racers, known natively as hashiriya (走り屋),[2] can also occur on expressways and highways, infamously in Japan, where they are known as kousoku battle or commonly known as Roulette-zoku as they drive round and round on circular expressways[2] and frequently occur on the Shuto Expressway in Tokyo. The most notorious group to be associated with it was the Mid Night Club (which turned into a game based on the actual group) who gave street racing worldwide attention with its Template:Convert antics and was known for its high standards and organization until they were disbanded in 1999 following a fatal accident involv mmmmmming a group of motorcyclists.Template:Fact 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 as it was during the 80s and 90s. 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.Template:Fact 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 modification b. The expressway racing scene is portrayed in the manga Wangan Midnight, as well as in the biographical (Tsuchiya) Shuto Kousoku Trial.

One of the causes of street racing in Japan is that, despite the numerous and famous race circuits, they can become overcrowded. Furthermore, such circuits may cost as much as ¥20,000 to race,[2] while a highway toll may cost less than ¥1,000.[2] Also, with Japan's high cost of living; many young drivers prefer to put their money into savings, or take out loans on their vehicles where they would usually gather with like minded people at either the Shibaura parking area, the Tatsumi parking area or the best known Yokohama Daikoku Futo service area.

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; in America, racing to a quarter-mile, 1320 feet, or 402 meters, is the norm), Yon is Japanese for "4". This practice gave its name to a 90s popular game franchise, Zero4 Champ series.

Malaysia Edit

Main article: Mat Rempit

Street racing in Malaysia is illegal, as is watching a stre race; this is enforced by the Malaysian police. Many streets, roads, highways and expressways in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor Bahru and other cities have become sites for racing. Among the participants are teenagers driving modified cars or riding motorcycles.

Motorcycle street racers in Malaysia are also known as Mat Rempit in Malay Language. These Mat Rempit are infamous for their "Superman" stunts and other feats performed on their motorcycles. Theb nmy are also notorious for their "Cilok", a kind of racing in which racers weave in-between mo,./.ving 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 race along a predetermined circuit.

Most illegal car racers in Malaysia use modified common cars or bargain performance cars such as the Proton Saga, Progton Wira, Proton Satria, Proton Waja, Perodua Kancil or other Japanese cars such as the first-generation Nissan Cefiro, old Honda Civics,h and old Toyota Corollas. 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 racinhg 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.,

On 12 July 2006, the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link in Johor became a venue of illegal racing. The Johor police and the Road Transport Department, together with the highway operator PLUS Expressway, have launched major operations to crack down on illegal racing. More than 600 people have been arrested in these operations and were composed of Malaysians and Singaporeans.

Philippines Edit

The rapid increase in motorcycle and scooter ownership (because of its relatively cheap and easy way to purchase one) also encouraged the growth of illegal motorcycle street racing in the Philippines. Scooters of 125 cc displacement (notably the Honda XRM) are modified for performance, or simply strip it to its bare bones, even fitting engines from more powerful motorcycles like the Honda TMX, for the sake of racing. These races are often done in the Mat Rempit style. Honda noticed this trend, hence ,pnrompting them to release then Honda Bravo.Template:Fact Races are usually held at night on highways with long straights. While modification for the sake ofn aesthetics (concourse d'elegance) is legal in the Philippines, drag races are illegal and are being stopped by authorities. These drag races are, however, being dampened by sanctioned races sponsored by big companies. Some illegal racing involving 50cc scooters happened as early as the 1990s until it was officially sanctioned.


Street races are most commonly done between two stoplights or over 1/4 or 1/8 mile (404 or 202 meters). Street racing was very popular in the 1980s but during the 1990s many drivers abandoned the illegal street races for legal races at Tullinge Raceway. In late 1990s the interest in street racing increased. Causes given include the movie The Fast and the Furious and the internet based community Zatzy. A legal form of street racing called blackrace has also been introduced. They are run on closed streets and race against the clock (although two cars start at the same time). Two of the most popular raced in Sweden were,Volvo's and Saab's.

In 2006, Stockholm's dragstrip, the "Tullinge Raceway", closed its gates. The most well-known competition is "Birka Cup" among with the legendary "Stockholm Open" race, that runs on the first weekend of September, where there are participants from Nordic countries. The number of attending racers ranges from 15-30; most cars capable of running sub 9-sec quarter mile runs. The rules are simple: Run what you brought, which is to say that there are very few regulations.

The fee to participate in a race ranges from 300-500sek (approx. 60 USD)

Worth noting is the series of films, Getaway in Stockholm, a popular [3] [4] series of videos portraying professional drivers illegally racing and evading police[5] in Europe.

United StatesEdit

There is a strong racing culture in California, In some cases, this popularity has led to tough anti-street racing laws which give more strict punishments (including misdemeanors for attending race events) than normal traffic citations and also often involve dedicated anti-racing task forces. San Diego, in Southern California was the first US city to allow the arrest of spectators attending street races.

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 RASR (Racers Against Street Racing) 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.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.

Some police departments have lost control of the events, thus they make public safety the priority. Allowing racing and keeping safe public traffic flow becomes the priority in areas less used at night.

There are a few online community web sites where racers can upload videos of their activities. These sites generally promote illegal driving behaviors and materials.

Popular mediaEdit


The Fast and the Furious movie series played a huge role in the import racing scene movement. The main theme was an import car that was high modified that was ready for the show as well as the go. Seeing these cars made every racer want some kind of small compact car that they could customize and change the appearance of the vehicle. This series featured several cars such as the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Lancer Evolution, as well as the Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R. The movies covered everything from drifting, legal and illegal street racing, to high speed car chase scenes. They race for money, cars, respect, their friend's lives as well as their own.

1320 A West Coast Story is a street racing documentary that has been in the works for 8 years. It depicts the realities of street racing, with the most in depth analysis (via interviews with law enforcement, street racers, professional racers etc.) of any production known to date. It is in finalizing stages as of May 2008, due to be released sometime in 2009. Ironically, this is when "The Fast and the Furious 4" is due to be released as well. The movie's trailer is up currently on YouTube and has generated discussion with regards to the lack of drag racing facilities in Southern California, the birthplace of modern day drag racing. It takes a hard look at the influences of "The Fast and the Furious" franchise on street racing, examining whether the film contributes to the problem of street racing or not. This film also attempts to debunk several long-running myths that have surrounded drag racing since its inception.


Video games Edit

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.

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