TTAC Goes Way Back: The Dawn Of Import Drag Racing

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Before Fast and Furious was even a glimmer in the eye of a Hollywood producer, import car enthusiasts were paying nearly twenty-five hundred dollars for a lousy intake manifold – hard to believe, right?

Well, if you lived in Toronto in the mid-1990’s, not really. The Canadian dollar was in the toilet, internet shopping did not exist, and buying from a local vendor at inflated prices was your only option. This documentary, which debuted on A&E sometime in that era, was the talk of the town when it came out. I remember getting a “taped” copy (back when you could record things on VHS, not TiVo or DVR) and being amazed that somebody went out and purchased a laptop computer just to tune their car.

My, how things have changed. Still, it’s nice to take a look back to the days when a B-Series Honda EG hatch running 12 second times was a huge deal. And how about the Miata and FD RX-7, two cars that we may not normally think of as street drag contenders, being abused mercilessly in pursuit of bragging rights?

Less than a decade after this documentary, Ontario imposed draconian anti-speeding laws, whereby getting caught at 31 mph over the limit meant an instant impounding of your vehicle, a 10 day driving ban and a fine of up to $10,000. While these laws killed off the street racing scene, they also made Ontario one of the worst places to drive.

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6 of 28 comments
  • Velvet fog Velvet fog on Apr 29, 2014

    I saw this documentary when it came out. The guy blowing up the RX-7 on the dyno was pretty good.

    • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Apr 29, 2014

      After hanging around Turbo RX7 guys back in the day, blowing up a rotary is pretty much a bi-annual thing. Doesn't seem to phase them. Kinda like the Eclipse/Talon guys and their 4G63s.

  • Maymar Maymar on Apr 29, 2014

    The MTO handing out licenses to everyone with a pulse and six months of frost heave are what really make Ontario terrible to drive in, the "street racing" law is just one footnote on a massive list of problems.

  • 3800FAN 3800FAN on Apr 29, 2014

    Boy that takes me back to my college days where everywhere I looked in Lowell MA was another fart can civic with a body kit decal covered rice boy. Only 1% of them had real performance modifications. 99% of them it was all cosmetic. Once I ate one with my 85 Reliant 2.6. We used to make fun of them mercilessly.

    • FuzzyPlushroom FuzzyPlushroom on Apr 30, 2014

      I lived in Lowell for most of last year, and there's still no shortage of poorly-modified Hondas around. New trends, same mechanically-stock beater cars.

  • Krayzie Krayzie on Apr 30, 2014

    This is the street racing stuff up at Woodbridge that I keep hearing stories about from older folks at work who had American muscle cars in the 80's, and from people at car meets that had imports in the 90's.