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Lifestyles of import tuner enthusiasts

Fast cars, fast women, and fast money? You must be thinking of Hot Import Nights, the constantly-on-tour event with chromed-out rides and non-stop hip-hop thatís more interested in showing skin than sheetmetal. And for a whole bunch of people, it pretty much stops there. Itís a safe bet that a good three-quarters of the customized cars roaming the streets are of the all-show-and-no-go kind, most commonly a hopped-up economy car with wheels that scrape its fenders meant to give off the image of speed. Luckily, thereís a select minority that actually prides themselves on their ability to make Import Car more interesting in any number of ways Ė many of whom have high technical proficiency, take the hobby seriously, and hate being grouped with the former camp. First, there are events in which anyone can participate but where nimble-handling Import Car do best, such as Autocross. Usually held on Sundays (not for free), anyone is welcome to take their best shot at running what they brung through a maze of orange cones and compete for the best times.

Compact Honda Import Car arrive in droves at these things. Obviously, some also race face-to-face. Obviously, no one could get away with the giant organized illegal metropolitan street races you see in movies, and less emphasis is put on drag races (thatís more of an American muscle car thing) but competitions do go on at racetracks and spontaneous challenges happen on the street all the time. But the import scene itself also seems to be inventing new events. After all, the culture, like the majority of the cars themselves, came from Japan, and some of it is spilling over.

The most recent and widespread of them all is drifting, a subjectively-judged competition event where drivers compete to see who can boot their car sideways around a track in the most interesting manner. Entire sets of tires easily go bald in a day, and the amount of power isnít nearly as important as the linearity and controllability. Anyone without a cheap, light, stick-shifted rear-wheel-drive car is toast, and the talent of certain makes and models really springs to the surface. Those of you whoíve been getting ridiculously large offers for that 1986 Toyota Corolla hatchback rusting away in your driveway now know why. Helping to expand the popularity is an entire anime series dedicated to the sport called Initial D, obviously popular with the younger set. Much higher exposure will soon come in the second sequel to that lucrative B-movie The Fast and the Furious, this time titled Tokyo Drift and set for a summer 2006 release.


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