A boy racer is a motorist who drives an automobile that has been modified with aftermarket body kits, audio system and exhaust system, usually in an unlawful manner. It can also means a compact sporty coupe that is heavily modified for racing. Wealthier motorists who drive sports cars, or those with costly modifications, often seek to distance themselves from the culture. 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.
Boy racers are typically known for speeding away from traffic lights, playing loud music, and revving their engines rather than actual street racing.[not in citation given] 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.
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 and bonnet scoops (possibly non-functional)
- Suspension modifications to lower a car's ride height
- Body kits, neon/L.E.D lights and other appearance modifications
- Tinted windows, often restricting the view from the car
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
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.
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 any way (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.
Most cheap vehicles in New Zealand are used Japanese imports and the culture follows modification of these cars. 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.
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.
The stereotypical United Kingdom boy racers 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, Renault Clio, SEAT Ibiza, SEAT León, Škoda Fabia, Peugeot 206, Ford Ka & Vauxhall Astra, all with small engines usually ranging between 1.0L & 1.6Ls; 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. This creates a major problem, as many hundreds of young drivers may actually have invalid insurance (which is also illegal in the United Kingdom) as a result.
- "Police blitz unearths dozens of death traps". The New Zealand Herald. 18 October 2005. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
- 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.
- ABC: 'Phantom Expander' targets New Zealand hoons
- "Boys just wanna have fun". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 2003-03-29. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012.
- Grantham Journal: Car seized in 'boy racer' crackdown
- Wairarapa Times-Age: Young enthusiasts say "we're not boy-racers"[dead link]
- Wanganui Chronicle: Boy racers worry St John's Hill residents Archived July 16, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- East Anglian Daily Times: Man's horror at road rage 'gun' ordeal[dead link]
- Hawke's Bay Today: Lower cars at your peril says ex-racer[dead link]
- "Unsafe boy racers flock to BOP for New Year". NZPA/Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
- BBC News: Tinted windows to the soul
- Donnell, Hayden (12 December 2011). "Boy racer's car to be crushed". nzherald.co.nz. 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.
- "Muscle car museum". 13 March 2009.[dead link]
- The World Today - Car lovers buy fuel-efficient vehicles to save money
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- New Drivers Car Insurance - Hints and Tips
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