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Racing as Protest: The Car Culture of Hong Kong

What better way to express your displeasure for police than to outrun them in the mountain passes?

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Photo: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP (Getty Images)

Most of the street racing you’ll hear about here in the U.S. is the Fast and the Furious variety groups of car-interested folks, throwing together friendly challenges or dollar wagers to see whose car is fastest. Hong Kong, however, brings something else to the street racing world: Political motivation.

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Vice journalist Mehi Melwani investigated the world of Hong Kong street racing, where groups of young enthusiasts use their defiance of traffic law as a form of anti-police praxis. Their high-speed runs through the mountain passes aren’t just for the thrill of speed or a few dollars’ prize they’re an explicit middle finger to authority.


The cars of Vice’s story are an eclectic bunch, one that would fit in at most unofficial car meets here in the United States. An 800-horsepower GT-R here, an Audi TT there; tuned Volkswagens and Hondas aplenty. These are all cars you’ll see racing here, for fun or glory, yet in Hong Kong they become a statement.

The full piece from Vice is worth a read, chronicling the life of an unnamed fintech heir whose obsession with street racing, drugs, and mixing the two eventually cost him his life. Through his story, we get a glimpse into the lives of other racers, the community that always seems to spring up around cars anywhere in the world particularly when those enthusiasts are connected by other, more real concerns. When you’re facing an authoritarian police force, hell-bent on catching you and your friends, can any race just be a race?