Boy racer

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For single by Morrissey, see The Boy Racer.
Poser Mobile, a parody of common boy racer mods
Boy racer spotted in Malaysia.

A boy racer refers to a motorist who drives an automobile that has been modified with aftermarket body kits, audio system and exhaust system, usually in an unlawful manner.[1] Wealthier motorists who drive sports cars, or those with costly modifications, often seek to distance themselves from the culture.[2] Responses to the boy racer phenomenon range from laws prohibiting cosmetic modifications to vehicles such as decorative lighting and window tint, restrictions on recreational driving ("cruising"), to vandalism such as spraying expanding foam into cars with loud "big-bore" exhaust tips to stop such cars driving around emitting loud droning noises.[3]


Publications for boy racers included Max Power, Fast Car, New Zealand Performance Car Magazine, MTV's Pimp My Ride and The Fast and the Furious as well as DVD publications and television shows.

Boy racers are typically known for speeding away from traffic lights, playing loud music, and revving their engines rather than actual street racing.[4][not in citation given][5] A typical boy racer is seen as a young man who sits very low in his seat and wears a beanie, baseball cap and/or hoodie.[6][7]

Vehicle modification[edit]

Modifications typically associated with the stereotype include:

  • Powerful sound systems
  • Extravagant paint jobs
  • Large, loud exhaust tips
  • Imitation alloy wheels, often unusually too large for the respective car, with matching low-section, wide-base tyres
  • Hellaflush (tyres tilted excessively and scratching the tyre fenders)
  • Spoilers[8] and bonnet scoops (possibly non-functional)
  • Suspension modifications to lower a car's ride height[9][10]
  • Body kits, neon/L.E.D lights and other appearance modifications
  • Tinted windows, often restricting the view from the car[11]

Actual performance upgrades, such as engine tuning, adding turbochargers, etc., are rare amongst the boy racer subculture due to the high costs, and lack of technical knowledge, as well as the fact that most insurance companies charge extremely high premiums to young drivers with modified cars.

Boy racers by country[edit]


In Australia, the terms hoon and "revhead" are used for people who drive in an anti-social or dangerous manner. However, revhead (which derives from "revolutions per minute") may refer to any motor enthusiast, while hoon is always pejorative.

New Zealand[edit]

The term boy racer is used in New Zealand to describe a youth that drives any form of vehicle that is Japanese and/or has been modified in anyway (including factory fitted parts). The Land Transport (Unauthorised Street and Drag Racing) Amendment Act 2003 is commonly known as the "Boy Racer Act". In 2009, a government led by the National Party augmented the Act with the Land Transport (Enforcement Powers) Amendment Act and the Sentencing (Vehicle Confiscation) Amendment Act, which allow police to confiscate and "crush" (correctly, dismantle for salable parts and destroy the remainder) vehicles on the third offence within four years, issue infringements for "cruising" and prosecute street racing and "antisocial" behaviour, by creating temporary by-laws. The first car-crushing sentence was passed down in late 2011.[12]

While the slang word "bogan" generally has a broader meaning, it is often used in New Zealand in reference to owners of larger Australian cars, like Ford Falcons or Holden Commodores.[13][14]

Most cheap vehicles in New Zealand are used Japanese imports and the culture follows modification of these cars.[15] During the late 1980s and 1990s tariffs were gradually removed on imported vehicles. This allowed many cheap second hand vehicles to enter New Zealand's car market and even caused new car prices to drop. In Japan, like New Zealand, cars drive on the left side of the road, and the Japanese car registration system discourages use of second-hand vehicles.

Boy racers in New Zealand have led to several cities putting "no cruising" bans in place around the major business districts. Christchurch was notorious for the "laps", or "aves". These were the Four Avenues, the ring road around the central business district, which restricts cars from doing more than 3 consecutive laps of between 10pm and 5am. This has led to boy racers and cruisers migrating to other areas which has angered locals.[citation needed]

In New Zealand the majority of boy racers cars are the rear-wheel drive Nissan Silvia's and Skyline variants, heavily modified in appearance with rather large external wastegates, locked rear differentials, loud/large exhaust systems (straight pipes) and extremely powerful sound systems using multiple amplifiers and subwoofers (in particular, Subaru Legacy station wagons). Neon lighting is almost unheard of in New Zealand. Excessive window tinting is common as window tints can be self installed and there are no restrictions on the sale of window tints that are too dark for certain vehicle classes.Template:Alex Judd

United Kingdom[edit]

A modified Peugeot 106

The stereotypical boy racers in the UK can be easily identified by their vehicle choice. They tend to prefer small, three-door hatchback cars, such as the Vauxhall Corsa, Fiat Punto, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 106, Citroën Saxo, SEAT Ibiza, SEAT León, Peugeot 206 and the Vauxhall Astra with small engines usually ranging between 1.0 litre and 1.6 litres; this "preference" is usually based on financial restrictions rather than desire. (Engines with higher capacity are higher performance and carry increased insurance premiums and running costs, making them a too expensive option for many).

Boy Racers often neglect to tell their insurance provider about modifications as this would further inflate their premium, even though British law requires drivers to notify insurers of all material changes to the vehicle.[16] This creates a major problem, as many hundreds of young drivers may actually have invalid insurance (which is also illegal in the UK) as a result.

United States[edit]

The term is rarely used in the U.S. anymore, alternate phrases including "rice burner", "rice rocket", or simply ricer[citation needed] are most commonly used to describe the boy racer concept, since most of the vehicles are of Asian manufacture. If a car is "riced out", it has the import tuner look, and may or may not actually have performance parts under the hood. There's also the less popular term "wheat burner", or "Domestic Rice,"[citation needed] when referring to an American model such as a Ford Focus, or Chevrolet Cavalier. "Krauter" is a German model, usually a Volkswagen Jetta or Golf. The latter two categories are also sometimes referred to as "rice eaters,"[citation needed] since their competition in the tuner scene is usually the more popular Asian models.

Alternate uses[edit]

The Ford Grand Am Cup racing model of the Mustang, the FR500C was nicknamed "Boy Racer" by Ford executives.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Police blitz unearths dozens of death traps". The New Zealand Herald. 18 October 2005. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Lumsden, Karen (January 2009). "'Do we look like boy racers?' The role of the folk devil in contemporary moral panics". Sociological Research Online 14 (1). doi:10.5153/sro.1840. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  3. ^ ABC: 'Phantom Expander' targets New Zealand hoons
  4. ^ "Boys just wanna have fun". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 2003-03-29. 
  5. ^ Grantham Journal: Car seized in 'boy racer' crackdown
  6. ^ Wairarapa Times-Age: Young enthusiasts say "we're not boy-racers"
  7. ^ Wanganui Chronicle: Boy racers worry St John's Hill residents
  8. ^ East Anglian Daily Times: Man's horror at road rage 'gun' ordeal
  9. ^ Hawke's Bay Today: Lower cars at your peril says ex-racer
  10. ^ "Unsafe boy racers flock to BOP for New Year". NZPA/ Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  11. ^ BBC News: Tinted windows to the soul
  12. ^ Donnell, Hayden (12 December 2011). "Boy racer's car to be crushed". Retrieved 12 December 2011. Eighteen-year-old Karn Clarrie Forrest (18), of Milton, appeared before Judge Stephen O'Driscoll in the Balclutha District Court, sitting in Gore, today on two driving charges. 
  13. ^ "Muscle car museum". 13 March 2009. [dead link]
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links[edit]