Road Racing

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
road racing

Road racing is like masturbation. We all do it, but no one wants to admit it. Why? It's obvious enough. People take one look at your bulging wheel arches and think yeah, he does it. Well of course you do. Do you seriously expect anyone to believe you bought a car specifically engineered for high-speed performance so you could slavishly obey The Highway Code? That's like buying a pump-action shotgun to knock down cobwebs. It's logical, but implausible.

Talk all you like about your sports car's brand heritage and timeless design. The average man in the street doesn't see it that way. They clock your race-ready wheels and know you're just itching to humiliate some velocity-challenged Vauxhall. And they're not wrong, are they? Any Porsche driver who claims he bought his car to drive 70 miles per hour on the motorway, only using the outside lane to pass slower moving vehicles when it is safe to do so, is either in deep denial, lying or has severely injured his testicles.

C'mon, admit it. Your Subaru Impreza Turbo may corner better than Angelo Dundee at a Mohammed Ali fight, but you know it's not enough. It's a real buzz to scan the road surface for camber and cornering angle; chose the right gear, get the revs just so, and then balance throttle and grip to sashay around the corner with perfect, sublime control. But you need more. What you really want, what you really need for a proper hit of adrenalin, is to pass someone whilst doing it. It's not enough to win. Someone else must lose.

The desire to drive faster than someone else is simple human nature. It's part of our instinctive need to establish dominance and compete for scarce resources. Just because we're encased in two tons of metal hurtling through space that can kill, maim and inflate our insurance premiums doesn't mean those urges are going to go away. In other words, do we really expect people willing to tear each other apart to buy a hot Christmas toy to allow a yob in a clapped-out blandmobile to cut them up without some sort or retaliation? Put the cutee in a fast car, and by God, they'll use it.

OK, some wouldn't. Some people actually buy beige clothing out of choice, and their cars for their fuel economy. In terms of road safety, this is no bad thing. I honestly believe that the average Britons' generally quiescent nature accounts for the UK's position as the world's second safest country for motoring (after Sweden). I am constantly amazed at British drivers' civility whilst queuing at intersections. After you! No, after you! But I swear I've seen a blue rinse OAP in a Nissan Micra dice with a flat-capped elderly gentleman in a Rover 25 on the Slough bypass.

Road racing is illegal, immoral and dangerous, but it's something virtually all drivers do at some point in their lifetime– whether they're willing to admit it or not.

Not. Despite its universality, road racing is about as socially acceptable as upbraiding the Queen for serving dried-out cucumber sandwiches. Your neighbours may race each other to secure a parking space directly outside the school gates, but they still consider a TVR burbling by their window a greater threat to their children's safety than viral meningitis. To declare even a mild predilection for competing against fellow motorists on public roads is way, way out there. If speeders are baby killers, racers are baby eaters.

Armed with a hypocritical social mandate, the government and police are doing everything in their power to hunt speeders down and shoot them like dogs. They reckon if you're convinced that their efforts have saved even ONE life (preferably a small child's), you'll accept anything up to and including tagging your vehicle like a common criminal. Which is fair enough. Well, even if it isn't fair, there it is.

So why do so many enthusiasts equipped with/addicted to sports cars claim that they only drive fast on windswept Welsh twisties? Equally, why do so many speed freaks want us to believe that they regularly transform from track day devils to road going angels? I've even heard sports car owners say their mean machine's braking and handling makes it safer than the "average" car.

C'mon, it's not true, and no one's listening. Road racers who hide their behaviour behind protestations of social responsibility are not only fooling themselves, they're making all sports car owners look like liars— as well as baby eaters.

I say that it's time to stand up and be counted. It's time to declare the simple fact that you find driving fast fun. And if you're feeling especially daring, tell the opposition that your car is faster than theirs. Why not? If they hate you anyway, why conceal your true nature?

Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Sherman Lin Sherman Lin on Apr 12, 2007

    What an opening sentence. Gotta love the writing on TTAC website, reminds me of the old Car and Driver magazine.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.