A Momentous Momentum.
I just recently moved to Los Angeles.
It's a city of cities, built on a framework of concrete and asphalt as far as the eye can see, with almost no roads genuinely straight, flat, or properly paved. Your suspension is definitely put to the test. Despite the bone shattering asphalt, it's a treat for the senses if your senses align with the average automobile lover- every street corner is lined with a gas station or otherwise an auto body shop.
No kidding, there are 20 auto body and automotive repair businesses within 1 mile of my writing this.
A bit of pretext; the Los Angeles car scene is highly sought after by many that are interested in the automotive sphere; but also anyone with half a head on their shoulders is reasonably wary. High speed chaotic actions perpetrated by those freshly licensed, modifications with no safety backing, the cheapest parts for the most return, and an all-encompassing aura of possible gang activity...
The city of Los Angeles has been trying to crack down on these automotive spectacles for decades, seeing a sudden surge in popularity through the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been squashed only slightly. I had to see for myself why it was so resilient and what was of it now...
This night starts at the parking garages of a local Target, 50-80 vehicles parked up, taking up as much space as possible yet making sure to keep the engines quiet and lights off. Quiet conversations took place throughout the groups of people, a quiet energy emanated from the 3-story structure. Meandering through the crowd you can find several groups parked with likewise vehicles, from the Bavarian BMW to the measly Miata.
As it's something I'm more familiar with, I nestled into the Miata crowd and surveyed from there. It turns out that everyone was waiting for a signal, and in the meantime just operating a holding pattern until the time to roll out was given. I examined their engines and haphazard builds and talked up my own misfortunes with wrenches altogether. I noticed the crowd skewed young, and admittedly daydreamed towards better days to build their dream projects or buy their dream cars.
There came a moment of newly founded energy as two vehicles rolled into the car park; a green BMW M3 and an anthracite gray Kia Stinger GT. This was the signal. As the drivers stepped out, a crowd circled around a singular blue iPhone, the screen illuminated with a bullet-point list showcasing the locations and time frames of the shenanigans for tonight. As onlookers clambered over each other trying to take a photo of the blurred screen, shouts of addresses and times and phone numbers rang up through the crowd.
3 locations, no more than 30 minutes at each, all separated by zip codes and miles of highway.
"You don't want to burn a spot by staying too long, ya know?", a driver told me as he shared the information to my phone.
Surprisingly enough, the overseers took a minute to explain expectations of safety, the idea that this is an evening of fun, and to not bash your head in on anyone else's. Good looks in my opinion.
Without sharing too many details of the locations (because let's face it, I don't want to be the burner), I found myself briskly driving up the California 1 to the first few turnouts of Angeles Crest. It was the first time driving up this road in my life. The infamous Angeles; incredibly technical, way beyond the capabilities of my modest Mazda CX-5, and awash in the exhaust noise of various V6s, V8s, turbocharger whistles and supercharger whines. I was rightly left in the literal dust.
With traffic backed up several sharp turns before the spot, it was a hilarious bit of quiet excitement, eagerly awaiting for what ultimately became a smokeshow on the side of a mountain. I parked backwards into the hillside and pulled out my drone to get these aerial photos, as I myself couldn't see the action or get to it with traffic in the way, my only hope was to fly over it. The spinning drifts were lit up by headlights or laser pointers, excited whoops and cheers echoed around the valley as cars began drifting in tandem, doing outrageous donuts and long enough burnouts to block out the stars.
These congregations and more continued to the other two locations; an empty trucking route that allowed for massive big-rigs of cargo to turn and reverse safely, and finally a more tightly packed cul-de-sac, for some final burnouts before goodbyes.
Each location different, separated by miles and miles of highway travel- it felt a bit like a shortened version of a GoldRush Rally or Cannonball run. As my little CX-5 tried to keep pace with the crowd as they left one route and moved to the next, vehicles awash in green or purple or white underglow would fly past in the fast lane of the highway. At one point you could not tell who was moving on to the next location or heading home, all of which were blasting holes through traffic with their exhaust acoustics ringing in everyone's ears.