Interviews conducted February/March 2014
Photo curtisy of Peter Zoon- Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterzen/)
High performance cars are known for going fast; their looks and reputation don’t help that view of them with authority figures. These cars are mainly related to young male drivers from the ages of 18-25. These cars get a bad reputation for speed from the drag racing years. “The average monthly fatality rate was 14 in 2012 compared to 16 in 2011 and 18 in 2010” (RSA.ie website). This statistic shows that year after year fatality rates are lowering which may indicate all drivers are learning the rules of the road and what consequences can occur if these rules are broken.
Ian Jones a 21 year old who has a interest in high performance cars gave me his opinion. When asked about places such as Mondello Park International Race Circuit in County Kildare, Ian replied “Mondello Race Park is a great venue in my mind. Here is a place where any car driver can visit this circuit to get there racing buzz out of there system or to try out there cars that they have worked on so that they don’t have to do it on the pubic road. In fact this is popular for a lot of drivers but yet it’s the ones who don’t go here and drive recklessly that ruin it for everyone else”. Shane Byrne, another car enthusiast who organises car racing and events also gave his opinion on Mondello. “Mondello is good yeah, it’s a place to go and drift your car. It’s only really directed to track cars in my eyes, a standard modified car could blow up on the track if over driven.”
Shane Byrne organises car meetings at secret locations as some Gardaí don’t approve of what he’s doing and have shut down some of his events recently. Places such as Mondello international racing circuit facilitate drivers to race and learn how to race in a safe environment. On their website they promote their events such as “become a racing driver”, “race events and shows”, “Early drive school tour” and many others.
Photo curtisy of James Stewart (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesstewart/)
I asked Ian if he thought high performance cars such as Integra’s and Civics are just for show in today’s society, as many owners put a lot of money into these cars and would not risk damaging them? “This is the case for a lot of high performance drivers, there is a small margin of drivers who don’t spend as much on their cars and drive recklessly due to no regard for their vehicle or the public. A lot of these cars would in fact be safer to drive as they are lowered for better handling and bigger brakes added for stopping. These cars are some people’s dreams, they spend all their time and money on them and the last thing they want is to ruin it.” When I asked the RSA do you think high performance cars just have a bad reputation due to their looks, they were very quick to respond “There is that argument yes. The main point again is that it’s the driver’s attitude that’s key. If this is right they will drive responsibly regardless of the vehicle… Cars don’t kill people. Drivers do. We don’t mind what car someone drives as long as they drive responsibly”.
When asked about this Shane Byrne knew exactly what to say as he knows these cars inside and out as he works with them at his organised events. “Their looks don’t help their reputation for certain people that hate modified cars, but these cars have a lot of money spent on them and look great so it wouldn’t be all down to what they look like. They are more for show nowadays as the conditions of the Irish roads are no place for these cars. They would only really come out on the weekends to meets and cruises or just to hang out with mates.” Looks can be deceiving. All these cars are modified to look and sound fast as that’s every car lover’s dream to have the fastest car or to make everybody think they have the fastest car.
When Ian was asked about illegal car racing he did not hesitate to tell us this “It is dangerous for the public as some drivers go to view cars while others go to drive recklessly. There are many drivers who are very aware of the rules of the road and only a small minority drive recklessly at these events causing up roar with the Gardaí”. The RSA had a totally different opinion on this: “It’s illegal and needs to be stopped. If someone wants to race, do it on a race track.” Shane Byrnes view on this is similar but more in favour of these events as he feels it lets car enthusiasts such as himself get together and show their cars to one another as some of these cars are made for speed. “Illegal racing is dangerous of course but to be honest there is nowhere in Ireland for any car lover or enthusiast to race his vehicle! Some of these cars are built for speed not just looks and the owners do like to see what they are capable of on a short strip. “
Photo curtisy of Moto “Club4AG” Miwa (http://www.flickr.com/photos/moto_club4ag/)
Shane explained the thinking behind his events. “I organise car shows because I love to bring every enthusiast to one place, to enjoy an Irish tradition legally, to meet new people and have something to look forward too. It’s something I love to do. I get great feedback from the events I do, that’s what keeps the enthusiasm alive, there does be negativity as well from jealous people but what can you do, you keep going with your head held high!” Shane Byrne obviously has a big enough following for him to continue what he’s doing as his Facebook page for these events has 2659 friends and growing.
Shane made the comparison between driving a work van and a modified car. “Basically a work car or van I would drive just like a normal person would. But in a modified car it feels different, it’s enjoyable, you’re driving and turning heads, people liking your project, it gets you friends and you meet great people that are into the same things as you.”
High performance cars can affect peoples speed in certain ways although some people take it to a whole new level and drive recklessly giving other car lovers a bad reputation. Although some cars are just for show, looks can be deceiving. It’s not the shade of blue or the racing stripes on the side of the doors. It’s all about what’s under the bonnet that makes it go faster.