Generally, an act of two vehicles, maybe more, engaging in an illegal contest of speed on various public thoroughfares. Historically, street racing in America got it's start in the 1960's when the three main American car companies were producing high powered rear-wheel-drivecars called muscle cars (example's include the Chevrolet Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, and the Ford Mustang as well as many others). A private racing venue was not always available, and therefore the race would be held illegally on public roads, typically uncrowded highways on city outskirts or in the countryside, though some races were held in industrial complexes. One popular venue was Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Movies like "American Graffiti" and "Two Lane Blacktop" illustrated this culture and gained a cult following in the process.
Fast forward to the mid to late 80's where young men based in southern California began modifying small compact 4 cylinder engine import cars, specifically the Honda Civic, and racing them on the street. While there were still many muscle cars in existence, they were rare, and typically were not commonly raced on the street. This vacancy led to the uprising of the "boy-racer"; young men sporting modified imports (usually Japanese) with turbochargers, nitrous oxide, engine modifications, and wild bodykits consisting of aftermarket bumpers, side skirts and wings, with styling considered very radical for the time. This "boy-racer" or "ricer" image quickly caught on and spread, ushering in a new breed of street racer and street racing machine. The culture gained a huge following and garnered much attention in the media, with a number of automotive magazines dedicating themselves to this specific culture. Some of this new breed of racer was more daring, more dangerous than their predecesors, challenging races in traffic and on busy highways, though many races were similarly held like their predecesors, in abandoned industrial parks and highways at night. Popularity soared with the availability of cheap sport compact cars that took very easily to speed modifications, and venues and races grew in size, leading to more media popularity as well as news reports concerning this "new" culture. Movies such as "The Fast and the Furious" and video games such as "Need For Speed: Underground" were inspired by this culture. Eventually, people in this style of culture were refered to as "tuners".
In early 2000's, rivalry between those who preferred the older muscle cars and tuners began to take shape. Many races were "import versus domestic" (though many tuner cars are actually considered domestic). There was much smack talk between the two sides.
Today street racing is still very popular in a number of locations across the nation, though rivalry between makes seems to have waned. Today's street racer is usually associated with a team, or a crew, and is generally very organized thanks to today's wireless communication abilities. Ages can range from as young as barely licensed on up past 60+, though the average age is 27. While many kinds vehicles are involved in the culture, Three generalizations are usually realized; the long standing muscle car and tuner car, as well as luxury or "exotic" cars (such as the Audi S4) which is also gaining popularity.
NOTE: Street racing should not be confused with road racing, which is a legally sanctioned race event that takes place on closed off public roads.
I just saw a Pontiac Trans Am, Mistubishi Eclipse GSX, and a BMW M3 street race down the highway.
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