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Car cruisers in road races war

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

The Black Country has long been considered a car cruisers' mecca, its roads jammed with souped up sleek machines, its car parks given over to the sound of blaring horns and blasting subwoofers.

Now a new law has been passed banning car cruising in the area, with those organising and taking part in meetings facing a fine and possible arrest.

The four local authorities across the region initiated the injunction in a bid to stamp out what one council boss called 'the menace of car of car cruising', after 31 accidents and four deaths were attributed to the practice in recent years.

A judge hammered another nail into the coffin by saying there was 'complete lawlessness' over the issue, with police often unable to charge or even trace offenders.

The upshot was a ruling that prohibits two or more modified vehicles gathering between 3pm and 7pm.

But away from the tired 'boy racer' jibes and screeching tyres lies a very different worldwide subculture, the stomping ground of car obsessives who like to keep things firmly within the boundaries of the law.

These petrol heads spend fortunes jazzing up their cars with fuel injected engines and the latest sound systems, but you won't find them doing handbrake turns around the Coseley Road island at 1am.

It is an ultra-competitive world where crews from around the country face off against each other, scoring points by virtue of how stylish their cars looks at the 'show and shine', rather than the amount of smoke produced in a burnout.

Shane Lloyd prepares to race at Santa Pod

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Shane Lloyd racing at Santa Pod

When they do race it's done on a track at official meetings - often organised to raise cash for charity. At the same events others prefer to 'park and pose', the practice of standing next to

The new law has left many of these enthusiasts distraught, with some complaining the injunction lumps them in with the law-breakers and makes it impossible for them to enjoy their hobby.

Shane Lloyd, who runs the Facebook page Race Wars GBR, said : "The injunction is completely unfair and is going to turn law abiding car enthusiasts into criminals in the eyes of the law.

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"This is a massive, thriving scene involving hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and millions around the world, yet we are all being branded boy racers and told we can't travel in a group of more than two cars.

"Of course there are a few idiots who try and show off and spoil it for everyone else, but this is just like throwing a blanket over everyone with an interest in the scene.

"I race on the track at properly organised meets. I have spent a fortune on my car and love to show it off - that's a major part of what we do. We just love cars. You're not going to find me doing 150mph down the Black Country Route or blasting music out on McDonalds car park all night."

Mr Lloyd's pride and joy is a turbo charged 2.5l Nissan Skyline that he built himself - a replica of the car driven by the late Paul Walker's character in the successful Fast and the Furious film series.

Fans of modified cars flock to Santa Pod Raceway for the Paul Walker memorial event earlier this year

"I spent six years building it and it means the world to me," he said. "It's got a massive GT35 turbo charger and I've had more than 170mph out of it - but that's on the racetrack."

The 44-year-old mechanic from Rushall says he has been involved the modified car scene for as long as he can remember, recalling the days he would spend hours under the bonnet of his first car, a Mk 1 Ford Escort that he fitted with a twin exhaust.

"The term boy racer itself is a bit offensive," he added. "It's been a long term since I've been a boy, then you have to consider all the women that are involved."

Since the 1990s the Black Country scene has been one of the country's most fertile, with clubs like Extreme BHP, Torque Racing and Skyline Owners Club travelling to and organising events to cater for the every need of car devotees.

Enzo Dicesare, head honcho at Enzo's Automotive Body Repairs in Jacob's Hall Lane, Great Wyrley, said he has modified hundreds of cars over the years.

He has worked on humble Vauxhall Corsas to top of the range Lamborghinis and Ferraris, but now he fears the new legislation could have a damaging effect on his trade.

The 36-year-old said: "People come here because they want colour coded bumpers or alloys fitted, something to make their cars stand out from the crowd. Now drivers can get into trouble for having their cars customised if they gather in one place.

"If people start getting pushed away from the scene then businesses like mine are going to lose money. It's a worrying time."

In January hundreds of drivers from the area made their way to Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire for a memorial race day in honour of the aforementioned Paul Walker. The sold out event raised almost £30,000 for the charity Reach out Worldwide.

Mr Lloyd said he wants to organise similar events in the Black Country, but the new law has thrown a spanner in the works.

"I would love to do some events in Walsall but the council just don't want to know," said the father-of-two. "This law is basically stopping us from raising money for good causes."

Mr Lloyd has launched a petition against the new legislation that already has almost 2,000 members.

He said: "It is up to us to fight our case. If I'm on the motorway driving down to a meet and there are two mates in their cars near me on the road we are supposedly breaking the law. How ridiculous is that?

"I want as many people as possible to speak out against this victimisation and bring a bit of common sense to the argument."

Wolverhampton Council's community chief Councillor Elias Mattu, who oversaw the case, said he feels the new laws were necessary for the benefit of Black Country residents.

"West Midlands Police have received hundreds of complaints about it from residents and businesses over the last few years," he said.

"These range from complaints about vehicles and spectators obstructing highways or residential or business properties, to dangerous driving, excessive noise from revving engines and stereo systems, littering, verbal abuse, swearing and intimidation.

"There have also been a number of collisions involving vehicles taking part in a car cruise."

But for the thousands of law-abiding 'modders' across the Black Country, being tarred with the same brush as boy racers is a difficult pill to swallow.

To sign Shane Lloyd's petition visit Lift The Cruise Ban UK on Facebook.

Terminology:

Modders - people who customise the design of their cars to improve the style and capability.

Doughnut - occurs when the steering is put on full lock allowing the car to spin 360 degrees. Tends to leave a circular skid pattern, hence the name.

Nitrous Oxide - gas that when injected into an engine makes it burn fuel more efficiently and increases power.

Drifting - Using throttle, brakes, clutch, gear shifting and steering to keep a car in a condition of 'oversteer' while manoeuvring from turn to turn. Fiendishly tricky to master.

Burnout - Keeping a car stationary with the wheels and spinning its wheels. This results in a lot of smoke as the tires heat up.

Park and pose - also known as 'show and shine'. Car enthusiasts parking up and showing off their cars.

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