It’s hard not to notice automobiles everywhere. Over the past 100 years or so, automobiles have become mainstream, almost everyone has one. They are the things that we couldn’t imagine living without. To a lot of people, a car is more than just an object to get from point A to point B; they are an extension of one’s self. The cars are cared for like one would care for a dog. The car culture scene is everywhere, it encompasses almost all major cities in America creating communities, social events, careers, and an all-around great thing that many people overlook or are missing out.
Something similar to compare car culture, to get an understanding, is owning a house. Any house owner loves their house. They bought it for a reason: for an investment, for pleasure, for customizability. Homeowners renovate, add to, change the flooring, or change the countertops because it’s something they love, something that is cared about. The same thing can be said by petrol heads in the car community. People in the car community change, edit, take out, add, to their cars all the time: change the rims and tires, change the color, tune, add aftermarket performance parts, and many other things because it’s something petrol heads love, something that is cared about. Car culture has impacted many lives by creating jobs, making new friends, and giving petrol heads things to do in their free time. I have had the pleasure to be around 2 thriving car scenes, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada.
Growing up in Las Vegas is hard. Finding something to do in Vegas is challenging, either it’s too hot, it costs a lot of money, being too young, or it’s just illegal. In high school, I found a group of kids who were heavily into the car culture scene that Las Vegas had to offer. Every day after school we would hang out in the parking lot and talk about our cars, what we have done to them etc. Hours upon hours were talked about cars during those days after school. We would all go to the late-night car meets at the local park and make new friends almost every time we went. Everyone would chill, hang out and talk about anything for hours. One major event series Las Vegas has is called Vegas Drift. Out at the Las Vegas motor speedway, an event organizer would set up in an empty parking lot, set up pylons to make a race track, set up a speaker system to blast music. This would turn into a huge event many Vegas kids would go to on Saturday nights. We would watch amateur and pro drifters drift around this track creating huge plumes of tire smoke. One other thing we did is drift in the streets. I lived up in northwest Las Vegas where there are no street lights and rarely anyone on the roads because of the low density, rural properties. We kids, with nothing else to do at one in the morning, would go around throwing it sideways, drifting in the moonlit streets of rural Las Vegas. With everything that Vegas had to offer in car culture scene, I walked away with lots of new friends, lots of knowledge, and lots of memories to look back on. Those are just a couple things people miss out on, that any city’s car scene has to offer.
My second taste of a completely different car scene is in Reno. Even though I’ve only been in Reno for about 3 months, I’ve already met so many new people, made new friends, and been to many events. Car culture in Reno is a very different demographic than in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas there were many different types of cars because of the weather, it never snows so you can have a car with any type of drivetrain. In Reno, it snows so many people have all wheel drive cars. At car meets there are predominantly Subaru’s, Audis, and Mercedes because of their all-wheel-drive capabilities. One fun thing to do in Reno is to track your car. “Tracking” it means to race it in a time trial. Reno has an event called autocross where someone can go and race their car around a track, made out of orange pylons, trying to get the best time possible. At these events, one can socialize with other racers and talk about their cars. They can network with other drivers and other car enthusiasts and possibly make being a petrol head into a job or career rather than just a hobby.
Car culture has provided many people with jobs and careers. The internet these days has made careers for people that love cars. With YouTube, people can document everyday occurrences with their cars or other people’s cars. One example from YouTube is Adam LZ. He created a YouTube channel to document his life in the car scene. He has now gone from owning one car to now having over 8, competing in drift events, and having a fun time without having a nine to five job. YouTube is his job, he documents his day, edits it, and posts it on YouTube for millions of people to watch. With Instagram, every photographer has a platform to post to for millions of people to see. They have the ability to gain a following and post their photos for people to enjoy and possibly make it into a career. An example of this is my friend’s brother. He started a car Instagram page for himself, back in 2011, to share the photos he takes. It’s called Speedhunters. He now has over 1.2 million followers and makes a living taking photos and hosting car events in the greater Los Angeles area. It all started with a simple Instagram account. People are missing out on the many opportunities that car culture has to offer.
Many people think to be a part of a car scene, they need to have a nice car. That is one of the things that many people get wrong. I don’t have a car that I can take to a car meet and park where all the other modified/ nice cars are parked. That’s why car culture is so beautiful. One doesn’t need to spend a single dollar to be a part of something so amazing. I’ve made all of my connections and friends from just showing up and talking to people.
Car culture is overlooked by many people, misunderstood, or underappreciated. One huge take away from being a part of car culture is the social aspect of it, building a network of people. Just in the three months, I have lived in Reno, I have already made a network of around twenty friends. Just in this time alone I have already made friends with a guy that is in the early stages of designing and building a race track in the Reno area. Cars are more than just something to get you from point A to point B, they are art pieces, extensions of one’s personality. This is a community of friendly people who love to socialize and help each other out. It’s a community that is commonly overlooked by your average joe.