The smell of burning rubber and the sound of a revved-up engine is the ultimate high for car fanatics.
The hotted-up car culture has grown substantially over the years with more and more events enabling car lovers to showcase their pride and joy. But along with this growth has led to an increase in hooning.
Hooning, by definition, is any anti-social behaviour conducted within a vehicle such as speeding, street racing and performing burnouts. Hoons have tarnished the reputations of car communities with their constant anti-social behaviour on residential roads.
A Sydney self-proclaimed “hoon”, who asked to remain anonymous for legal reasons, told The Newsroom he can not resist any opportunity to put the pedal to the metal.
“I hoon because I like to look at the roads as a jungle, who’s on top, who’s the king,” he said.
“Every time I hoon it’s because it gives me power … I look at it as an addiction.”
Under the 2013 Road Transport Act, there are a number of penalties for illegal street racing and participating in dangerous driving on NSW roads including the loss of license and vehicle.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) regulates all motor vehicle standards. The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 requires all road vehicles to comply with the relevant Australian Design Rules (ADR), regardless of whether they were manufactured in Australia or were imported. To modify a car’s engine, the Roads and Maritime Services must provide the driver with a certificate that confirms the car complies with the ADR.
Throughout the year there are events held in controlled environments across Australia where law-abiding rev-heads can safely display their hotrods.
However, suburban areas are still filled with the sound of muffled exhausts and screeching tires and locals are not the only ones fed up with the constant skid marks left on the roads. In an upcoming crackdown on hooning, the Newcastle Police and the Traffic and Highway Command has threatened de-registration and vehicle confiscation.
“Some of this behaviour may have been going on for decades, but we are serious about catching those who drive in a dangerous or potentially deadly manner,” said Newcastle Superintendent John Gralton.
“Ignore this warning at your peril. There will be consequences to your actions when you are caught. You won’t know when or where we’ll turn up but, car hoons. you’re on notice.”
A recent study by the DIRD showed that 97 per cent of street racers were male, with more than half of them aged between 17 and 20 and 90 per cent were of caucasian decent.
Just Car Insurance is the only insurance agent in Australia to provide cover for modified vehicles. The company requires cars to be roadworthy, with current road registration, a club registration permit and compliance with permit restrictions.
Just Car spokeswoman Tanya Schonberg said the onus was on the customer to confirm whether any modifications or accessories were legal.
“If a customer fails to confirm this information with their state authority and items on their car are illegal in their state, they may be denied a claim if it is determined that a particular illegal modification or accessory has caused or contributed to damage that has made them lodge a claim,” she said.
Meanwhile the passion for modified cars has had positive repercussions for related industries, such as mechanics and manufacturers.
Last year, leading manufacturer, Toyota, sold over 200,000 cars while the preferred manufacturer among street racers, Holden, sold more than 100,000 cars.
Love them or hate them it seems there is no stopping the car culture that has become even more popular since the release of the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, with the death of actor Paul Walker sparking millions of devotees across the world paying homage in tribute cruises.
With its eclectic mix of stereotypical revheads, street-racing fanatics, straight-out car lovers and general motoring enthusiasts, it is a pastime and a passion that society is learning to live with. — Photos and report by Ra’Eesah Lillah