Loud music, fast cars, crowds of over 200 congregating in a parking lot and waiting to race, to drift, or to just show off their assortment of bright lights, customized sound systems, or tricked out rides–this is the life of the so-called “Boy Racer” in the UK.

While the name has no real history–in fact it just sort of appeared one day without any real explanation as to why or who coined it initially–the Boy Racer is, in fact, a car enthusiast. They’re not necessarily racers, nor are they always male, yet the term sticks within the import car community.

The appeal to this sort of lifestyle is one that a simple adrenaline rush can’t explain. Whether driving at over 150 kilometers per hour, or putting on a simple display of one’s hydraulic system, the lifestyle is one that many youth in the UK call their own. This community is one of not just cars, but camaraderie through story telling of past conquests, talk of modification techniques and parts, and the oh-so-present model-wannabes that are seemingly there just to have their picture taken. 

This scene appeals to UK youth due to a couple of factors. The first is availability. Tuner cars can be anything from the family station wagon to a tricked out and heavily modified Volkswagen. After settling on a car, the enthusiast then sets out to customize it in ways that bend the limits of the original factory concept. 

Take, for example, the average Volkswagen. A simple paint job, and a few performance parts and it takes on a shape that resembles its former self, but becomes something altogether new and exciting for the boy racer crowd. A simple Volkswagen and a trip through online catalogs turns up thousands of OEM and aftermarket Volkswagen parts. These parts begin the process that tuners use to transform their factory coupe, into a machine that rivals the speed, agility and handling of some cars costing two to three times more. 

The second factor to the appeal of the boy racer scene is the constant one-upsmanship that runs rampant throughout the scene. Having a completely custom car is just part of the lifestyle. Being able to say you have the fastest, the lowest, the best sound system, or the most aesthetically pleasing interior brings on a whole new wave of adoration. There’s a constant battle being waged within the community to see who’s car brings the best of any number of attributes.

In fact, the whole term “boy racer” is a bit of a misnomer, as the greater portion of the community never races their cars at all. Instead, some within the community prefer the car show atmosphere and the camaraderie that just an average Saturday brings in the local parking lots that play host to these massive affairs. 

While law enforcement has a constant presence at these events, few actual arrests are made. Instead, officers use the opportunity as a teaching method to educate the youth on the consequences racing can have on themselves, as well as those around them. 

Educating this car enthusiast crowd as to the dire effects that are often caused by being inexperienced drivers and pushing the limits of their ability – as well as their car – is the main goal of local law enforcement groups. While they’re often met with profanity laced tirades, the officers know that the speech they give today could just save a life that very evening. Providing alternative avenues for the adrenaline junky such as the local speedway, not only makes the streets safer for racers and non-racers alike, it also provides a healthy outlet for at-risk youth who are seeking alternative forms of entertainment.

Right or wrong, the boy racer scene is booming. The scene as a whole isn’t new, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. As long as there is a steady supply of cars, and cheap (as well as not-so-cheap) parts and modification shops, in addition to enthusiastic youth that are eager to show off their creativity and mechanical prowess, the boy racer scene is here to stay.