Living the Fast Life at Race Wars
Written by Matthew Harris and Rebecca Nguyen
Photography by Hans Marquez, Matthew Fink, and Devon Keenom
[dropcap style=”style1″]C[/dropcap]ar Street Journal and JDM Fresh left the Phoenix area while it was still dark to setup our vendor booths along side CamArt, Vivid Racing, Wretched Intentions, Universal Technical Institute and more to get ready for an exciting day at Race Wars. This event was the first of it’s kind in Arizona, with members of the Narcissistic Car Club hosting the event inspired by the popular Fast and the Furious movie series. Race wars took place at the Gila Bend Municipal Airport on April 18th.
Race Wars consisted of half mile roll races for every make and model including motorcycles, where the vehicles started by rolling to a designated speed. Then at a certain marker they floored it, zooming down the runway at speeds over 100 Mph, some reaching close to 200 Mph, a car show also took place during the event as well as a sound off competition.
By the time we arrived there was already a small line of heavily modified cars greeting us. Mind you, we arrived at the gates as the sun was coming up (about 6:00 AM), and the races didn’t start till around 10:00 AM. The racers that showed up this early definitely prove to you how dedicated they are to their culture and sport.
We made it through the gates, set up the booths and tents, got done with the press meetings, and going over our action plans for the day. Next thing you know the line had grown to several hundred cars. Thus, summing up the fact if you build it and promote it, they will come. Participants put down everything they had on the air strip, while spectators drove miles to see it.
Fast forward a few hours and this line grew into the unexpected thousands. People from all over (some as far as Las Vegas, Nevada), and all walks of life piling into Gila Bend. A town that is not used to seeing this many people in a single year, let alone all at once, and has a total population of around 2,000 people. It’s probably safe to say we scared the town a little bit because the car community came together in full force. Pushing the town and the venue way over capacity.
Capacity for the venue was hit only two hours into the event. Sheriffs had to hold off the awaiting crowd of spectators outside of the gate as some filtered out. Approximately 65 miles away from the heart of Phoenix, dedicated enthusiasts who had arrived past noon had to be turned away and refunded for their tickets if not willing to wait for others to leave. The outreach Race Wars had was immense, and being it’s first annual event the turnout was much greater than the venue itself could cater to. Around 3 p.m. several food vendors sold out as well.
Staffing became a bit of an issue at some point as the number of spectators increased and volunteers were pulled in to help. Without any prior events, anticipating the numbers was difficult even after setting predetermined caps on participants and spectators. The Facebook event page had a total of 3.1k committed to attendance and about 650 maybes. With drivers, car show entries and prepaid spectators bringing unanticipated friends the numbers increased along with day of paying spectators.
Imagine what that would be like. Having your town over taken by a car community. In total there was around 8,000-10,000 people that came out to see the one thing they all have in common, CARS! Heavily modified cars getting pushed to their limits, so that they can have bragging rights of being faster than the other guy.
The vehicles that were participating in the car show and racing down the track strip varied largely (Which is a good thing). There were sport bikes, European sports cars, American muscle, some super cars, a few classics, some trucks, even a rat rod showed up. However the largest collection of cars had to be the ever so popular Asian imports. Which have been made even more popular by the “The Fast and The Furious” movie franchise. This weekends event was even modeled after a scene in the original film where the main character are all involved in a big desert race called “Race Wars.”
The current generation of racers seem to be heavily influenced, and fascinated by the Fast and Furious movies along with looking up to the late Paul Walker who played one of the main characters, Brian O’Conner. But, also happened to be a car enthusiast in real life.
This is mostly due to the fact that the current generation has grown up with the films being in the limelight, and it’s what they know the car scene to be all about. It is definitely in no way a bad thing. Because of this, the car culture has once again blossomed and blown up to epic proportions, and its not just about the racing. It really is like being part of one big family where we all have one big common bond that brings us together. If you were lucky enough to be inside the venue at Race Wars before it went over capacity, all of this was very evident this weekend.
As we now recover from the busy, sun filled day out at the track, and reminisce on how crazy, exciting, and amazing it all was. We can only hope that the our scene continues to support one another, even during mistakes. So that we can keep growing, and accomplishing much more. But, most importantly so that we can continue to have 100% legal fun with our cars.