Auto-racing community hits the track close to home

Uncommon sport creates unity and allows self-expression among its fans

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JJ Hill

Senior Jack Gillespie shares his passion for motor sports and the sense of community it brings.

By Sean Turner, Granite Bay High School

Racing has always been a unique choice in the sporting world. In comparison to other sports and hobbies, motorsports has differentiated itself with the thrill of pushing far past the limits of the human body. 

However, along with the competition aspect, what truly distinguishes motoring from other sports is the culture and variation of self-expression that its community is capable of.

Though not the most common sport on campus, some Granite Bay High students have taken to the sport and found various ways to participate.

“What I like the most about the car community has to be the fact that everyone in it has a common interest,”  senior Jack Gillespie said. “No matter how old you are or what you drive, you can always be an enthusiast and connect with other people.”

To Gillespie, the sense of community can be just as important as participation when it comes to cars. 

Auto shows and local car meets provide a great place for enthusiasts of all types to meet new people who share similar interests as well as see unique and interesting cars.

Unfortunately, motor sports is also unique in the fact that it can have very high barriers to entry due to the cost of the machines required. 

But many enthusiasts believe this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

“It can get really expensive,” said senior Duncan Nichols, “but everyone can start somewhere. … I know people who have built their cars from salvaged parts.”

Nichols said he believes there’s a lot of fun to be had in cars that don’t cost as much as the typical idea of a race car, and that there’s plenty of room to grow if you start there.

“I think there are layers to how accessible cars are as a hobby,” Gillespie said. “You don’t need a race car to be an enthusiast.”

I think there are layers to how accessible cars are as a hobby. You don’t need a race car to be an enthusiast.”

— Jack Gillespie

Attending meets, shows and professional racing events doesn’t require owning an expensive car, and it can be a great way to interact with the community without having to bear the most expensive aspect of the sport.

“Cars can be a cheap hobby,” GBHS graduate Blake Clements said. “People pull up to meets in ‘clapped-out’ Honda Civics, and they still have fun.”

As for those wishing to actively take part in racing, there are still affordable options. Local tracks such as the Sonoma Raceway allow for the renting of cars that are track ready for an hourly fee.

But once past the monetary barriers, some have found resistance in more social aspects of the sport.

“There is a stigma (against car enthusiasts),” Clements said. “I have been stopped by many parents claiming we’re driving recklessly just because our cars were too loud for them.”

Those who are part of the car community have long been labeled as reckless or irresponsible by many because of how they modify or drive their cars.

“I think there are plenty of stereotypes against car enthusiasts,”  Gillespie said. “But car people are just that, enthusiasts. It’s really just a hobby and an interest.”

Gillespie said he hopes people don’t define the entire community based on the stereotypes and see motor sport the same they would any other sport or hobby.

“While some people do stupid stuff on the road,” Gillespie said, “that doesn’t count for all of the community.”

This story was originally published on GraniteBayToday.org on March 11, 2020.