Cars fucking suck, plain and simple. There’s no avoiding the maintenance costs, break downs or increasingly expensive fill ups. Lets paint a picture: it’s Tuesday. You have a full tank of gas, $50 to your name to get you through the next week and a half, and about 900 kilometers to commute between work, school and (if you’re lucky) friends. Why is this the case? Because you thought driving your car to the track, breaking it, having to buy parts there and fix it on the side of the road just to get home (semi) safely was a good idea. If we could think of your bank account as a person in a fight with poverty, homelessness and general shame, your car would be the bullet that pierces his chest, introducing a suckling wound. Deciding to track that car infects it. This is when a car becomes the kind of vehicle that will wait until you’re on your very last dollar, and punch you in the dick; and I mean really hit you. The best part is that there’s no way around it! It’s just a part of the culture you must embrace. Doing the daily drift car thing is definitely cool to look at on the internet, but its a whole other level of stress when you’re doing it for real. Every single person with a car worth looking at has a story of when it has left them stranded. Being the kind of car enthusiast that drives a low, loud and wide car is accepting that every once in a while you’ll have to get your hands dirty. Your car randomly fucking up will ruin your new shirt. It will fuck up your brand new shoes, and you can kiss your brand new 50 dollar “Thrasher” five panel goodbye. It sucks, but you’ll deal with it. You’ll start driving around with tools, buying black clothes, and essentially preparing for the car to hand you a plate of shit. You’ll deal with it, because not only are you hooked, but too far in financially to go back. Even taking them in stock form, without the break downs, cars are a huge money pit. The irresponsible financial behavior sort of gets justified when you’re wide open throttle having a fucking staring contest with the grim reaper flying down the back straight of your local track, finally nailing that transition that you’ve been thinking about since the last track day. When you do shit like that, your feelings of accomplishment right then in that moment are always going to outweigh the feelings of defeat stranded on the side of the road. All of the bullshit become times you think back on and laugh; you and your work of art are creating memories. Stay in it, its worth it.
Although street (and in the beginning stages, often daily) driven, these cars are anything but practical. Driving a stiff, slammed and straight piped anything can be described as shanty at best, no matter how well the car is put together. Diving into this lifestyle is accepting that you’re going to be driving something that’s beyond impractical every day, and dealing with its quirks for better and worse. Luxuries like a radio, heat, door panels and carpets are now for normies, and you kissed that life goodbye when you threw your cars interior in the garbage. Driving with music is for the weak, the sound of your transmission and differential’s whine through your full metal interior is way cooler than that. You chose the dull thud of your gear shifter slamming your car into gear over casual conversation. You accept this shit, because hot rodding isn’t supposed to be practical. It isn’t supposed to make you feel comfortable, or even safe. These cars aren’t nice, soft and friendly toys. They’re purpose built vehicles put together with the values of the owner, and the owner only. A passenger is often an after thought. To most of us, a vehicle is expression in its rawest form.
You can’t half ass this sort of thing. Building a car for whatever reasons you may have is such an expensive and slippery slope that it requires your whole life. You might start off as one of those weekend car guys, but sooner than later you’ll notice that all of your friends are car guys; All of your spare time is spent on ways thinking of how to improve and have more fun in these machines- you’re always looking for an edge. Before you know it, your time spent on Friday nights will shift from bars to shops- that’s when you know you’re fucked. That’s when you know that this is way more than a hobby. Which can be a good thing, because you should be putting your whole self into this. Think about when you first started skateboarding, or doing tricks on your bike. Those themes of constant progression, accomplishment and frustration all carry over- its the same slightly obsessive downwards spiral. Without taking the motorsport aspect of modifying a car into consideration, fucking with a car is a freestyle act of expression: [with the exception of safety] there are no rights or wrongs. It is completely subjective. We’re all really just grown up skateboarders and bmxers. Our skateparks are now race tracks, and instead of snapping decks, cranks and frames, we’re blowing up differentials, tires and axles.
Freedom is sometimes described as doing whatever you want and not caring about the result. I feel like this is often misconstrued, because people interpret this in a context where the person is making a conscious effort, or decision, to not care about the result- which is pretty contradictory to the actual definition at hand. Taking the time, or even having the time to care enough to not care isn’t not caring. 95% of decisions made in this game lack a good, right or conventionally “correct” answer, so even having the time to think about them doesn’t yield the opportunity for an appropriate response; cars are tough. Often a battle, usually a compromise but even when you win you lose. For someone who truly loves this lifestyle, its easy to deal with. When you’re fist deep into the corner you’ve been mentally obsessing over about all week, the only thing that matters is where you are in that moment; Think about it: Think back to skateboarding, or riding BMX and the feeling you get when you first land a trick, or do your favorite trick off of your favorite obstacle. It’s a fucking rush! Think of the gratification felt of posting a video of it on Instagram or Facebook, getting praise from like-minded individuals. You’re not doing it for likes, but when you decide to take up a sport that is just as much fun to watch as it is to do, it’s a nice added bonus. The sense of community and belonging you get from this lifestyle is unmatched.
That feeling of life, in life, is the ultimate reset button. When you’re doing it for yourself and nobody else, you’re free. Its a perfectly flawed choice in lifestyle spent between a rock and a hard place. Think about it: the best case scenario of a drift day is you spending 40% of your day changing tires, and waiting in line. It would be shitty for me to end off on that note, so I’ll tie it back into my favorite definition of freedom by saying this: When you’re staring out of the smokey passenger side window at the top of third gear, drifting is freedom. Your car forces you to be in the moment; it creates a mental space that doesn’t support time for any right or wrong answer. Everything is a split second decision. Along with the tires, the car shreds any feeling of worry, anxiety or dread that relates to your life in any way outside of that metal box.
All Images Shot on 35mm Film
Words & Photos: Devaughn Dunbar (@Devocat)