Boy racer (subculture)

Boy racer (subculture)

Boy racer is a type of sub-culture based around passenger vehicles.

__TOC__Boy racer is now a New Zealand, British and Irish colloquial term for a person, usually a male in his late teens or early twenties, who drives his car in an intimidating or dangerous way for fun or competition. Their cars are most often regular models customised with spoilers, wide tires, flared fenders and go-faster stripes. Cars driven by boy racers are often small, and it's not uncommon that they are "all show and no go", in that the cars are not the highest performance model in the range or would not be considered competitive against "genuine" sports cars. Limited funds, high insurance rates that come with young age and inexperience at driving are reasons why a person might prefer to buy a base level, 1-litre Peugeot 106 and equip it with a body kit and sports exhaust rather than simply buying a harder to find and much more expensive to insure 106 GTi.

An example of a boy racer car of the old generation is the Ford Escort (both the early rear wheel drive versions such as the RS2000 and the later XR3i variants) due to their low cost and easily tuned engine, while modern boy racers generally use hot hatchbacks such as the Renault Clio and the Nova SR.

According to the stereotype the new generation doesn't know much about tuning the engine, though there is little evidence to prove that this is true of the majority of people who would be categorized as "boy racers". Not everyone who owns modified cars are willing to spend thousands of pounds/dollars on the engine.

Films such as "The Fast and the Furious" and MTV's "Pimp My Ride" have caused additional interest in boy racing. Boy racers tend to be dictated by trends from popular racer media such as Max Power and Fast Car, spending lots of money to keep up with the trends. Recently they can been seen moving away from The Fast and The Furious influenced "Jap Style" into the drifting bandwagon largely hyped by magazines, despite some owning unsuitable FWD cars, causing a lot of displeasure amongst genuine drifting enthusiasts.

Typical upgrades for a boy racer include large stereos (which often take up the whole boot and can be heard playing dance music or happy hardcore from down the road); extravagant paint jobs; over-sized exhaust pipes; large spoilers; hood scoops on non-turbocharged cars and neon lights underneath the chassis. Lowering a car is an extremely common modification.

Such modifications are also favored by genuine enthusiasts. Boy racers would be distinguished from these enthusiasts by the overall performance and quality of the cars they drive and the modifications they make in relation to the overall performance of their car. For example, a stereotypical boy racer might own a Vauxhall Nova 1.1 with over-sized wheels and exhaust, and they might use it to drive round town centers at night showing off to the crowds of people heading for pubs and clubs, while the enthusiast might own a modified Toyota Supra which they drive only at weekends.

Boy racers might also flout most motoring laws, such as running their fog-lights during the day, speeding, weaving through traffic, cornering too hard etc. Challenging superior sports cars is another dangerous pastime which seems extremely common; it is almost an occupational hazard for a sports car driver in the UK to be challenged at the lights by someone in a small hatchback.

Not all young drivers with modified cars fall into this bracket, with many driving their cars in a sensible manner. Car modifiers and cruisers who take a pride in their vehicles are generally well behaved and often have respect for other road users. There is often no distinction in the mainstream media between the boy racer and modified car enthusiast which can lead to the latter being tarred with the same brush. In essence the boy racer is to the car scene what hooligans are to football; however, it seems that many young male drivers are regarded as boy racers regardless of circumstance. The 'Boy racer' term itself is considered by some to be derogatory, as not all car modifiers are necessarily in their teens, or of the male gender. Most 'boy racers' do not associate themselves with the term, and instead think of themselves as car enthusiasts. Some even have a wolf in sheep's clothing style car which looks like a standard 1.1 Ford Fiesta but underneath beholds a 2.0, thus looking like a boy racer, with low profile tyres on a lowered ride. Thus showing real enthusiasm about the mechanics of a vehicle rather than the all show and no go that is usually tagged along with boy racer name.

By country


In Australia, the term "hoon" refers to those who drive in an anti-social and dangerous manner.


In Canada, the term "rice" and "rice rocket" etc , is commonly substituted with the term "French", mostly in eastern Ontario near the border of the French-speaking province of Quebec. In Quebec and many other areas, the US term "Ricer" sees more common use.Fact|date=August 2007

New Zealand

Boy racers in New Zealand generally (but not always) drive Japanese imports as well as "old school" Euros, but also drive late models too. Often (But not always) these vehicles are modified with things designed to make the car look good rather than go fast, such as lowering (which may improve handling), changing the vehicles colour and putting larger wheels on (which also may improve handling), etc.

But due to New Zealand having more relaxed laws on the modification of vehicles, a number of modifications not otherwise found in international practice are often not only road legal, but saleable at specialist automotive dealerships.The most commonly observed vehicles tend to be late model vehicles with the following standardized engine modifications, not limited to the following, but almost always including:

*Variable Valve Timing Control
*Modifiable Suspension setup

The proximity of Japan, and the liberal importation policy of New Zealand for used Japanese vehicles has also created a fleet of performance based vehicles within the country. Some specific models have a cult-like status, in particular :

*R33, and R34 Nissan Skyline, particularly the GT-R, modified for Street Racing or Drifting.
*S14 and S15 Nissan Silvia, in the same fashion as for the Skyline.
*Nissan 180SX and 200SX, though these vehicles are becoming less common
*Nissan 300ZX - a popular performance coupe, with myriad modifications
*Nissan 350Z
*Subaru Impreza, particularly sedans. Modifications are designed to mimic Rally practice for street use. They are less commonly modified for Drifting, though this form is seen to appear a competitive events on occasion. The desirable STI models will be aped in the form of spoilers decals etc. by less affluent owners wanting to be seen to own a performance vehicle.
*Subaru WRX. Modifications are similar to those performed on the Impreza model.
*Mitsubishi Lancer. The Evo series are the most sought after, and it is not uncommon for owners of less well endowed variants to modify their vehicles with after-market parts to produce similar and sometimes excessive performance from a less expensive vehicle. In other cases (see below), most modifications are highly gratuitous.
*Honda Civic VTEC (Coupe)
*Toyota Altezza (Lexus IS200)
*Toyota Celica
*Toyota Supra
*Toyota Levin Coupe
*Mazda RX7
*Rotary transplantation in late 1970s - early 1980s small two-door and four-door sedans of various manufacturers, not limited to Mazda.

With the proximity of New Zealand to Japan with respect to free flow of technical information and after-market spares and parts, a number of tuning houses have become quite well known and even garner respect within Japan and other international markets for the quality of their workmanship.

The following goals are followed by seriously-minded modifiers :
*Power increase - it is not uncommon to see road-going high performance vehicles with dyno-tuned engines producing outputs far in excess of specification, often inspired by Japanese practice, e.g. the 1000 BHP Nissan Skyline, and 400BHP variants of 2 litre straight-four powerplants from various manufacturers.
*Decoupled Gas Turbines - The combination of Turbo- and Supercharging of a motor vehicle is often seen as "de riguer" in most performance circles. Given New Zealand's hitherto relaxed automotive noise regulations, it is very popular for manual vehicles equipped with turbochargers to have a chromed inter-cooler system dominating the front of their vehicle, along with a noisy waste-gate system to let all around know that they possess such a vehicle. Superchargers often require a through-flow exhaust system with a wide bore - this has given rise to another trend (see following list below)
*Suspension Systems - these range from performance directed user-tunable systems through to exhibitionist gas-bag systems. As in other countries, lowering a car is considered a bare essential. The New Zealand Police are constantly examining, and de-registering cars for the illegal practice of cutting springs as opposed to fitting customized units designed for the purpose.
*Braking Systems - improved braking tends to be the province of performance oriented modifiers, though an improvement in braking is often a requirement for vehicles with after-market very large diameter and therefore heavy chromed alloy wheels, whose rolling mass decreases the effectiveness of standard braking systems.

In consequence with these directions in modification, the following 'vulgarities' are often seen on New Zealand's roads:
*Decals literally plastered on more ordinary model vehicles indicating a factory/after-market performance increase where none exists (e.g. NISMO for Nissans, STI for Subarus, MUGEN for Hondas, etc)
*Big-bore exhausts to increase noise and appearance for vehicles with no supercharging - this is an incredibly common phenomenon in New Zealand, to the point that such an exhaust system of any kind is an automatic identifier of a boy racer, whether wannabe or capable enthusiast. Fake blow-off valves are another phenomenon.
*Improperly/Illegally dropped suspensions - springs cut by an amateur are rightly considered a road-safety menace by the New Zealand Police, and are a subject of law enforcement. A recent fashion in New Zealand is to take older rear-wheel drive German sedans, mostly by BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and equip them with very large chromed alloy wheels, seeking to create a 'hip-hop look' and lower them improperly in an attempt to save money - which is instantly recognizable as an amateur job as the suspension geometry of the rear-wheels is so incorrect that the wheels appear 'splayed-out'. The rear wheels appear to be 'knock-kneed' - they have their upper edged nestling within the rear wheel-arch, and their contact area a sizable distance outside of the body-line. The New Zealand Police have also been targeting these vehicles for safety reasons - it is clearly impossible for these vehicles to have adequate road-traction in adverse conditions, and they therefore present a safety hazard to themselves and other motorists.

Interestingly, very few devotees of European marques go to quite the lengths of owners of Japanese vehicles - though this is most likely due to the very different attitudes to European cars in New Zealand and their fates in second-hand ownership as compared with Japanese vehicles. European vehicles, when new, tend to be the property of well-to-do professionals, and ownership patterns follow those of other countries and companies i.e Doctors, Lawyers, Directors etc. owning BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, etc. Less prestigious European brands, e.g. Volkswagen, Fiat, Skoda, tend to be own by the aforementioned professional's wives, and so retain even less desirability.

One anomaly is Alfa Romeo, where values plummet even on newer vehicles, and so consequently tend to be prized by cognoscenti. The limit of 'boy racering' an Alfa tends to be factory-specific parts, wheels, and decals limited to Autodelta white cloverleaf triangles and Alfa Romeo shadow-decals, and occasionally manufacturer decals on 155's to make them look like DTM competitors. Alfas also tend to humble many Japanese wannabes in a traffic-light start, when driven by a competent Alfa enthusiast. The large fleet of Alfa 33's are now tending to become surf-wagons or else daily hacks as they crumble into rust, though occasionally a 33, and sometimes a 75, will be 'done up' as a boy-racer, though they are rare sights indeed.

Older BMW 3-series, and Mercedes Benz E-180, anc C-class vehicles tend now to be favoured boy racer material, but their higher values make them less common sights on New Zealand's roads. There is known to be one 1980's Maserati Bi-turbo in Auckland whose owner is in the process of modifying the vehicle for higher performance.

Unfortunately, a number of clubs devoted to performance cars have ties to the criminal gang subculture, and with fluctuations within membership and club direction, there is often no clear distinction between the two on the minds of the public or law enforcement services. Below is a list of a few example organizations:
*Assyrian Performance
*Chosen Few
*8 Ball Rollin
*Illist Car Club
*Slap n Tikle
*Xtreme Angles Drift Club
*Car Enthusiasts New Zealands
*Kings of Diamonds
*Christchurch Underground

In New Zealand the "boy racers" who do not follow the laws of New Zealand when modifying their cars and demonstrating bad driving. These are the few who give most "Boy Racers" (RE: Car Enthusiasts) a bad name, by driving dangerously and are a hazard to the public.

Recent objections to boy racers in Christchurch have seen Police action to curb their activities within the weekend in the CBD. similar moves are taking place in Wellington for the Cuba Street locale, but these enforcement are not really possible in Auckland. Primary objections for residents and business owners have been centered around noise abatement (for big-bore exhausts and excessively loud turbocharger blow-off valves), and anti-social behavior on the part of drivers and their passengers, not limited to but including alcoholism, drug use and occasional violence. The main metropolitan areas of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are inevitably the haunts of boy-racers in New Zealand, yet in more populous towns there is a real presence, particularly Palmerston-North, Hastings and New Plymouth on the North Island, with Nelson and Dunedin being centers outside Christchurch on the South Island. Each town has their own distinct type of boy racers, with New Plymouth's boy racers been more 'drift' orientated than any other centre.

United Kingdom

In some parts of the United Kingdom, where car culture is sometimes seen as being inextricably linked to chav culture, (the same can also be said for the links with and Scobe Culture in Ireland) and the term "Barry Boy" can sometimes be used. It is interesting to note that because of the obvious links between chav culture and car culture the word chav may be used in reference to boy racers. During the height of the XR3's popularities in the eighties and early nineties as they were a choice of boy racers, they and owners were referred to as "XR3 Moron".Fact|date=December 2007

The stereotypical "boy racers" in the UK can be easily identified. They tend to prefer small front wheel drive cars like Novas, Corsas, Saxos and Clios with small engines usually ranging between 1.0 litre and 1.4 litres. (Engines with higher capacity are usually sold in the UK as slightly sportier in character and due to increased insurance premiums, might be beyond the financial reach of the stereotypical boy racer). These smaller cars are then often fitted with large gauge exhausts to make them sound more powerful then they really are, though usually this can lead to it sounding like the car is making a "farting" sound as the engine is revved up, or when there is a gear change. Powerful stereos are also installed and generally heavy bass techno music is played, which normally can be felt more then heard. Due to bad installation and sound proofing, people can normally hear these cars coming before they come into sight.

Latterly, the increase in popularity of drifting has seen a resurgence in the use of rear wheel drive cars by the boy racer fraternity. Popular models include the Nissan 200SX, BMW 3 Series, Ford Sierra DOHC, and Opel Ascona. Any of these models offer cheap access to tail-out motoring whereas front wheel drive cars are not capable of generating power-oversteer.


Generally Irish boy racers are very similar to those from the U.K. However modification parts are harder to find so most cars will be fitted with ill-chosen sideskirts, bumpers etc. Also the roads in Ireland are far worse than those in the U.K. hence many boy racer cars will have cracked side skirts and chipped alloy wheels,the repair of which is expensive. Many people question the fitting of these items given Irelands poor roads. Irish boy racers will always drive Japanese cars, due to the perception of these as more "reliable" in Ireland.

United States

Americans often use the somewhat derogatory term "rice burner", "rice rocket", or "ricer" to describe the boy racer concept, since most of the vehicles are of Asian manufacture. It's generally used to describe one who drives a car with the "riced" look without any of the performance upgrades. If a car is "riced out", it has the import tuner look, and may or may not actually have performance parts under the hood. There's also the less popular term "wheat burner" or "Domestic Rice", which is the same thing, but with a domestic American model such as a Dodge Neon, Ford Focus, or Chevrolet Cavalier. A "krauter" is a German model, usually a Volkswagen Jetta or Volkswagen Golf.The latter two categories are also sometimes referred to as "rice eaters", since their competition in the tuner scene is usually the more popular Asian models.

Other terms include "tuner", "tuner kid", "street racer", among others.

Alternate uses

In the United States, Boy Racer is more often used to describe a car (not a person) which has a sporty or "racy" character, despite being completely stock and not very fast. This is because the car may stereotypically appeal to young ladies who want to race the boys. Their cars, then, are "boy racers." Such cars would include the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Dodge Avenger.

The Ford Grand Am Cup racing model of the Mustang, the FR500C was nicknamed "Boy Racer" by Ford executives.

ee also

*Café Racer
*Car customizing
*Cruising (driving around)
*Import Scene
*Joyride (crime)
*Pimp My Ride
*Street racing
*US Term: Rice burner
*Contrast: Sleeper (car)

External links

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