This isn't a video game, this sure as shit isn't an action movie, it's real and its a hell of a thrill and it is dangerous as shit. The first thing I wanna tell you is you don't want to do it. Get back in your car, go home. Find a pretty girl or whatever you're into and get a regular job and go eat hot wings at a sports bar. Its a lot safer. Some nitrous running young punk loses control in a quarter mile burn? You might get lucky, but you might also be the spectator on the side of the road he takes out. Cars catch fire, tires blow, transmissions seize and go off like grenades, and that's just the car. The cops are gonna be on your ass, slap you in cuffs, impound your ride, and you either get to sit it out in jail for Reckless Endangerment, or pay an assload of fines, or both. Go home Pizza Boy.
Amanda Morgan, Morgan Motorsports, Rank 4 on the Black List.
The Underground League
The Underground League is one of the largest street racing organizations in the Southlands, a massive triangle of urban sprawl, mountain and desert stretching from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and down to Bakersfield. More racers on the Black List come from the Underground League than any other racing club, and joining the League is easier than any of the other auto clubs as well.
The Midnight Club
The main rival of the Underground League is the Midnight Club. It is smaller, and considered more elite than than its rival. The Midnight Club has consistently had members in the top five slots of the Black List. The Club is also known for having higher end cars, and larger wagers in the betting pools. There is also a larger social aspect to the Club as it is as much invested in the night scene, with bars and music clubs and the races it hosts are more like concerts with cars.
The Black List
The Black List is the official Most Wanted list issued by the LAPD, and is a shared resource with other cities in the southwest region. The drivers on the Black List aren't just good drivers, they are drivers who have eluded police pursuit, destroyed police cars, and most are major players in the street racing scene. Most of the impromptu race meets are organized and staged by Black List members and their race crews. Many are business owners, with garages or other businesses. The police often are able to simply speak with members on the list but can't do anything to them unless they are caught in the act, red handed behind the wheel.
The List isn't a club or organization, and it is not ranked on how many races the driver has won or how much money or respect they have garnered. It is based off of how much they have pissed off the LAPD, how often they have avoided arrest, and how much damage they have caused. The local leaders of the racing community have used this as a contest between themselves and will stage police chases with the intent of causing vehicular carnage and mayhem in hopes of elevating their position on the list.
There are other smaller autoclubs as well, but none are as large, cosmopolitan, or as well known as the above organizations. Smaller autoclubs fall into a variety of niches, either based on the specifics of the cars involved, ethnic or regional locality, or other specialized preference.
Some examples of smaller Autoclubs
Nu-Muscle AutoClub: a small, predominantly white, and well funded autoclub, the Nu-Muscle club runs Mustangs, new body Camaros, Chargers and Challengers. The club has a variety of income backgrounds, and ranges from guys pushing suped up six cylinder baseline models to rich boys in 600+ hp top end custom tuned cars. Expect lots of 'murica! big block chest thumping, and popped collars.
Jo-Boys: An ethnically oriented group, the Jo-Boys are equal parts street gang and autoclub. The membership is limited to Vietnamese, and other SE Asian nationalities, and while they typically run Japanese imports, the Jo-Boys have a running rivalry with any Japanese or Chinese ethnic street racers. They are also well known to the local police department as being the cars to chase if they want to possibly find unregistered weapons, drugs or potentially stolen cars. Johnny Trang, leader of the Green Nails Jo-Boys is currently #1 on the Black List.
The Amazons: a female only autoclub, the Amazons have no specific car brand loyalty, nor are their cars all hot pink. There are certainly those feminine rides, but there are just as many fire breathing muscle cars or tightly tuned imports. They race as a group, allowing them to go and race in a predominantly male sport without fear of being isolated and possibly taken advantage of.
The Speed Freaks: ostensibly a street gang first and a motor club later, the Speed Freaks mix both. The Freaks predominantly run domestic cars (ease of maintenance and parts) and like the Jo-Boys are known for criminal aspirations, with grand theft auto being one of their most well known.
So You Think You Can Race?
Street racing isn't just about showing up, talking shit, and burning rubber. There is an organizational system behind it, and there are people behind that system. The Black List is the most prominent pillar of that system, creating the celebrities of the sport. The kids know who is running what, and when that celeb driver wins big, they show up the next week to buy the same parts that their hero/rival is running. There are certainly street racers who do all of their own work on their cars, but not all, or even very many drivers have the time (often having day jobs to pay for racing) or the equipment/know how to do things like polishing engine ports, blueprinting engine blocks or pulling the motor to replace something as mundane as a rear seal blown in a race. Because of this, the second pillar of the scene are the garages. The Garages are to street racers what bars and clubs are to socialites. The race might go down on the street, but it was set up days, even weeks ahead of time in a garage.
Sample Garages: (taken from my LA by Nite game)
8th Street: located very obviously on 8th Street, the garage is a two story red brick building that was originally built as a fire station converted to car garage. The garage specializes in classic muscle car restoration, down to full chassis restoration on a rotisserie. It also does a lot of work on domestic cars in general, especially the primitive kind with chrome blowers, fat belts, and flame belching chrome pipes. The garage is owned and operated by third generation gearhead, and #2 on the Black List, Dominic Grimes.
McGregor Racing: A top of the line gleaming whitewash garage, McGregor racing can take in a street stock car, ranging from the lowly Civic or baseline Mustang, up to exotics like Ferraris and McLarens and turn them out as one of a kind street eating monsters. Owned by Caitlyn 'Kitt' McGregor, the garage is a monument to horsepower and the pursuit of speed. A charismatic shit-talker, McGregor has been running street races for more than a decade, and has the scars and cash to prove it. She is also #2 on the Black List.
Christine's: A warehouse converted into covered car revetments, Christine's is a rent a spot shop where people without garages at home can park their cars, and work on them. Many of the cars that live at Christine's belong to people who live in apartments, crowded residential areas, or parts of town where you wouldn't leave even a plain car on the curb unless you had to.
Uncle Sam Motors: the Wal-Mart of street racing, Uncle Sam, wearing his trademark stars and stripes tophat wants to sell you a new car, buy your old car, or do any work you need done to your performance vehicle. There are three locations in LA, plus locations in Bakersfield and Las Vegas. Sam's doesn't do intensive engine work or custom work, but rather does bolt on parts, oil changes, and light repairs. The quality of work is fine for daily drivers, but under the hard conditions forced on racing cars, the average quality work falls apart.
Types of Races
There are several different types of races that go on in the street racing world: pick up, meet, and tournament.
Pick Up Races are where two street racers run into each other and decide they are going to race, there is no security, no spectators, and no one to call who won in case of a close race. When the light turns green, we go for it. While these races are fairly common, they are seldom for more than bragging rights, or testing out a new car or modification. If no one sees, it doesn't really matter.
Meets are the most common sort of street racing set up, and are the sort portrayed in the Fast and Furious movies. A section of town will be closed off by 'security' to ensure no civilians accidentally drive into a race, and there is as much socializing and mingling as there is racing. Some of the races held are impromptu, between people showing up to take their turn at a fast pass and maybe score some cash and reputation. The big races are set up before the meet, and often they are the reason the meet has taken place. Gambling is common, as is showing off custom cars that are 'show cars' rather than race cars. Loud music, scantily clad women, men without shirts, there is often a primal, often sexual undercurrent to some of the meets.
There are, as a sub-class, club meets, where instead of the cosmopolitan mix of cars and people at a bigger social meet, there is more serious down the brass tacks racing and much less socializing and showing out. The most common sort of club meet is a car brand meet, typically domestic exlusive, Japanese import, or European import.
Tournaments are serious business and are legal get togethers typically outside of a major city center, and can last 2-3 days and mixes the debauchery of Mardi Gras with the chrome and gleam of SEMA, and the horsepower of a NHRA drag race eliminator. Garages show up to show off their work, parts manufacturers do the same, and there are plenty of other businesses that do gangbuster sales and promotions during these mega-meets. Race Wars is held every year in LA, and there are similar tournaments in Vegas (often casino sponsored) and other major cities but predominantly on the West Coast. Bonneville UT, Tucson AZ, Dallas TX, Houston TX, Oklahoma City OK, Atlanta GA, Chicago IL, and others have their own annual tournaments.
There isn't a Unified Code of Street Racing, but there are some basic jobs that are covered at most meets and all tournaments, as well as basic rules.
The Race Boss: The Race Boss is the singular person responsible for calling a meet, and organizing it. The Race Boss doesn't race himself, but rather acts and an emcee of proceedings, arranges who is going to run who, and where a race meet is going to be held. Good Bosses are impartial and don't show favoritism. Bad Bosses show favoritism, throw races, set up uneven cars and drivers, and are quickly avoided by people who aren't in their circle of pets.
The Flagger: typically a busty woman not afraid to let the girls hang out, the flagger is part showman part official. She gets the crowd pumped up before a race, ready steady's the drivers, and initiates the race.
Security: a group of people who make sure that no errant traffic wanders into the race meet. That is how vehicular homicide happens. Security also listens to the police scanner to break up the meet early if the police are notified of street racing and are on their way.
Spotter: the spotter typically films the end of the race for a photo finish to determine the winner in case of a close race. Spotters are also typically IT/AV guys and many run race forums, websites or host channels on YouTube for showcasing racing videos.
Unofficial Race Officials: There are typically a couple guys picked by the Race Boss to make sure that there isn't any trouble, or that a racer doesn't try to do anything stupid like start a fight, pull a weapon, or try to run after losing a pink slip race. The Bookies are present as well, running bets on each race, and in the classic fashion, they handle most of their bets in cash only, the odds written on a board they carry or through a social media site. A smart Race Boss also typically has a snoop on his staff to go through the meet and check for people causing problems (pick pocketing, theft at the meet, etc) or to get an inside look at an unknown car. Bosses strongly dislike sleeper cars because a sleeper blowing away a known racer makes them look bad.
What are you Driving?
It's not how good you look, and it's not just how good you drive, you've got to have a good ride. No amount of shit-talking can compensate for having weak horsepower or a sloppy transmission.
Street Racing is in a big big way about the cars.
The Race is part of a show, and the cars have to be up to the challenge. Primered bodies, and unfinished projects don't have a place on the line at the big meets and tournaments. Save that stuff for practice runs, pick up races, and smaller get togethers like small autoclubs.
Show Cars aren't at a meet or tournament to race. They are there to look good and catch the eye. Garages, tuners, and other car professionals will show up with show cars to demonstrate how good they are at what they do, and to simply enjoy the attention gathered at a race event. These cars can and do compete with each other, but generally these events are more car show and not at all car race. This can range from paint and vinyl wrap jobs competing for quality of appearance, stereo volume and sound quality meets, and simply just showing up low velocity affairs like ghost riding in parking lots, or winning ladies choice awards from groups of hot young socialites.
Race Cars show up to run fast and hard.
Real race cars are discouraged, this isn't the track. A street race car typically has all of the things a normal car has, like a passenger seat, and a back seat if it isn't a two-seater. If it doesn't have some sort of stereo and attention paid to the interior quality of the car, it is much less likely to get the attention of the race boss and his callers.
He's golden. The kids know who he is. They know what he drives. They know the parts he runs, and the music he pushes out of his radio. They know what he wears, what he drinks and the clubs where he picks up women. They show up, they show up and they pay cash. They want his brand of parts, his choice of music, and they want to slam jaegerbombs in the clubs he goes to. The guys on the black list are fucking celebrities in this part of town.
The Big Three have a strong presence in street racing. The nu-muscle cars are the backbone of the domestic racing scene, with the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger carrying the heaviest part of the racing. These cars are new, parts are easy to get, and there is no shortage of race gear, aftermarket parts and the like. The classic muscle cars of the 70s are much less common. These cars are now rare and very expensive. Being 40+ years old, they are also much more prone to mechanical failure as well. The Fox-body cars of the 80s (Mustang again, along with things like the Thunderbird, and Firebird) have been run hard, and are starting to thin out. The Pea-Pod cars of the 90s are also present with the 90s incarnation of the Mustang, Corvette, and other similar cars filling out the roster.
The tuner craze really started with the Japanese imports, small cars with small engines that were tuned with improvised and aftermarket parts to make them faster, while spoiler, mufflers and other accessories turned them from bargain vehicles into a semblance of cool. Brands like Nissan, Toyota, and Honda have strong presence in the race scene as their cars are not just affordable, they are reliable.
Most 'European' racers are in truth, German. Like the Japanese cars, many small German cars like the VW Golf were well suited to tuning, and the tradition continues. Smaller coupes and sedans are favored, and BMW and Audi have a much larger presence than they used to. The BMW sourced MINI Cooper is a common sight, along with the prolific offerings of Golfs, Jettas, and other VW cars. Italian, French, and British cars are very rare, as the cost of exporting these cars to the US is often prohibitive. And, if you can afford the shipping costs of bringing a Renault or Citroen across the ocean, you probably have enough money for an...
Exotic racers are the least common. The highest levels of street racing are fought out between elite drivers backed by the largest garages and in the hottest rides available. Exotic tournaments are rare, and are nothing less than automotive pornography. Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Pagani, Noble, and other car brands appear, their rides tuned to the point of exploding.
Street Outlaws is a new program on Discovery Channel (I think) and it shows a very realistic depiction of illegal street racing. And it's an ugly picture. The racers are all guys and it is a total sausage fest. The drivers themselves are older guys, in their late 40s to 50s and they are not young nor hot. Their cars are likewise neither young nor hot. Fox body Mustangs are the most common vehicle and they are door to door with an El Camino, an old Nova, and they have insane amounts of power. This doesn't follow the video game formula of advancing to a new car once you unlock better rides. Instead, there is a POS El Camino with home fabricated plexiglass parts and no hood pushing over 1000 horse power.
It is old, busted, not exciting, and nothing like Fast and Furious or Need for Speed. It should be called Old Guys yelling at each other, whining and making excuses for why they lost or can't run.