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Driver's Seat - Editorial

Tryin' To Catch Me Riding Dirty

Robert Choo
Oct 16, 2006
0610_01_z+drivers_seat+editorial Photo 1/1   |   Driver's Seat - Editorial

This above-quoted hip-hop joint that's getting heavy rotation on the radio right now really struck a chord with me. With my eclectic music tastes i do my share of bumping hip-hop but i am the first to admit that i don't necessarily identify with the thug life it often attests to. My life is mostly about cars and wrenching, not so much pulling chicks, slangin' indo, and getting crunk. So when this song hit the airwaves i particularly took notice-a rap about the police plotting to pull you over. Now that is my life right there. Suddenly a hip-hop artist and myself have a whole lot in common.

A lot of you readers are in the same boat as me. Every time i get into my car my commute is nonstop checking my rearview mirror and scanning ahead for po-po as it is guaranteed that any cop i pass will "try to catch me riding dirty." In the song they speak of police looking for expired tags, dark window tint, searching for drugs and guns, and so on. From my experience, driving a fixed-up car apparently also falls under the category of "riding dirty."

Getting pulled over a disproportionate number of times borders on police harassment. As long as i am not being stupid and racing or something, don't police have better things to do than gawk at my killer exhaust system? Isn't there a war on drugs or something else a little more momentous than my deep-dish wheels and flashy body kit? But wait, many officers do feel they are creeping up on something more menacing than just my tuner car.

At the sEMA show i spoke with a coworker's friend who is a police officer and he stated that drugs and weapons are more likely to be found in fixed-up cars so as such they are targeted. I must apparently be out of touch with our performance market because no one i know rolls with drugs and weapons. That just isn't our scene.

This line of thinking must also be linked to the fact that officers have accused me of being gang-related. I have been asked to get out of the car and lift my shirt up as they inspect my torso for gang tattoos. I take offense to mr. Officer asking me to disrobe in public. Could it be my car or could it be because i am a young male of color? While plenty of white guys have been pulled over for driving fixed-up cars i wonder how many have had body inspections for gang insignas.

With the heavily documented cases of racial profiling it is pretty much a given that: ethnic minority male driver + fixed up car = red and blue lights flashing behind you. I had to stop driving to my girlfriend's house back in the day because i kept getting pulled over driving through the ritzy 'hood it bordered on. It has gotten so bad that i now relish driving my sleeper turbo volvo. It is such a weight off of my shoulders to drive incognito in my swedish toboggan, blending right in with the soccer moms. I can speed like hell and drive crazy if i want and i won't get pulled over whereas in my "enthusiast" vehicle i must obey all traffic laws, drive five miles under the speed limit and sure enough that warrants a pull over.

Even rolling with all 50-state legal parts on your car won't buy you any love from the men in blue. I have had countless roadside conversations with officers convinced that my 100 percent legal modifications are in fact illegal.

So what life am i relegated to? Always driving paranoid? It's a choice to make but for me it isn't an option. I live and breathe performance cars. My volvo does me well when i want a low-key day but the next morning my s14 begs to be driven. I am not going to give up my passion just because of the threat of tickets. When i pass by a civic on the shoulder with 5-0 behind him i always think, "it's game over for you, buddy." You have my sympathy. If it weren't you it'd be me on the side of the road.

turbo@primedia.comSenior vice president, group publisherJohn w. Cobb iiiExecutive vice president, group publisherHoward c. LimEditorialEditorRobert choo - robert.choo@primedia.comManaging editorCristi millington - cristi.millington@primedia.comInterim technical editorMike kojimaCopy editorBill klein - bill.klein@primedia.comEditorial assistantSharon malm - sharon.malm@primedia.comContributing editorsEvan griffeyDavid luongHenry z. DekuyperDino dalle carbonareIssac minonJohn prescottPablo mazlumianArt direction & designArt directorJoel marasigan - joel.marasigan@primedia.com

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By Robert Choo
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