The other day my friend had to borrow my truck, so he let me borrow his Integra. Now mind you, it's clearly an LS Integra, with no indication that the person driving it has anything to do with the import performance industry. The windows aren't tinted; it doesn't have any stickers; it's not lowered in the least bit; it doesn't have rims on it.
There is no loud stereo; there is no body kit; there is no aftermarket exhaust system; there is no ominous hum from an intake system. It's as stock as the day that it left the Acura dealership.
Here's where the fun begins. For the week that I borrowed his car, I was confronted by at least 20 racers that wanted to race me in various situations.
Sitting at a red light in the middle of afternoon traffic, VROOM, another "raced-out" Integra pulls up next to me and gives me "the cock-eyed stare" while revving his engine.
Cruising along the freeway at a casual 75 mph, a poorly tricked-out CRX pulls up next to me and drops into fourth, VROOM, then waits for me to accelerate.
Taking my little cousins to the movies on a major thoroughfare in the early evening, VROOM, the world's most-stickered Toyota Supra drives nervously beside me as he waits in futility for me to drop the hammer and go.
I told my friend about this and he just casually dismissed it. "Yeah," he said, "what do you expect-it's an Acura. Of course you're going to race anywhere and everywhere you go." As our conversation progressed, I realized that my friend deals with this every single day of his life. That got me thinking about how and when people choose their stoplight confrontations and freeway chases. I'm not saying that I endorse this type of behavior; I'm simply acknowledging that it does happen.
Part of the problem may be with the media portrayal of the import performance world. While the problem of street racing has been around since the '50s and '60s, it has recently gained nationwide notoriety with the soaring popularity of import drag racing. Feature films have portrayed street racing as a "no rules because I rule" activity, with the endangering of public and personal lives a necessary result. In turn, I think that those new to the scene enter with false expectations and a skewed view of reality.
So, without launching into a tirade about the pitfalls of street racing, and without endorsing the activity in any way, I would like to present a set of possible "Unofficial Ground Rules and Things to Remember" for those that choose to engage in this activity. I would like to think that the following points are obvious and a part of common sense, but, apparently, they are not.
1) Do not race in heavy traffic. It endangers the lives of the participants (and their passengers) and also the lives of other drivers that are sharing the road.
2) Not all people that drive import vehicles want to race. Some people just want their cars to look nice. Others are just trying to get home after a rough day at work.
3) For those of you that are just itching to race on the street, remember this: If you confront someone and they obviously don't want to race, move along and leave them alone.
4) Your actions are being viewed by everyone. If you race anywhere and everywhere, don't be surprised to find yourself on the side of the road talking to the police when all you were doing was "trying to drive to work." It's not harassment; it's police prevention.
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