A Day At The Races //
Rain, more rain, intoxicated teens, drum & bass, burn outs, flat caps, tattoos, gold chains, piercings, eccentric hair, sun shine, tank tops, topless chests, slush puppies, hot dogs, chips, chicks, fast cars, pimped out cars, racer boy heaven - A day at the races.
This project has taken me to regional racetracks and super-sized car festivals - where the racing community compete, socialise with like minded car enthusiasts, exchange the latest tips on car modification, enjoy all-night raves and have their picture taken with pouting promo models. These events provide the ultimate escapism from working life and a social space for youths to meet away from the parental home. They also provide a retreat where the community is able to meet safely in one designated area without getting in the way of the public.
One of the most notorious and misunderstood youth subcultures of the last 30 years is the ’boy racer’ scene. Young motorists are stigmatised due to the tendency to label car modifiers as ‘boy racers’. This sensationalist and politically charged term endorses an image of a young male driving a modified car with a spoiler, alloys, lowered suspension, loud exhaust and stereo system which has become intertwined with notions of deviance and risk on the roads. Since their birth on the scene boy racers have been deemed as a threat to the majority of ‘respectable’ motorists.
For me one of the most compelling notions to come out of this series is the theme of masculinity. The more I explored the community, the more questions were raised. What does racing mean for this group of youths? How much of its appeal is about esteem, achievement, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect and respect from others?
The car has always been symbolic of how well one is doing in society and within the racing world this is even more exaggerated. It’s a modern day version of peacocking. For these youths, the car is a vital tool in progressing their journey through the road of life. The art of modification is a realisation of self-expression and creativity. It brings individuals together in a unique cultural melting pot to revel in the excitement and escapism it gives from everyday life.
‘A Day At The Races’ is a timely spotlight on what kids in souped-up cars are doing today – in every town in the UK. It offers a new and refreshingly positive commentary on this colorful social aspect of British culture.