A thunderous roar echoes throughout the once quiet neighborhood. I hear the revving of engines. Suddenly there is a loud screeching of tires pealing out across the pavement. The sound of the engines becomes even louder than before, then quickly decreases as the cars speed away. There is quiet for a few minutes, then the whole thing repeats again.
This is a common occurrence in my neighborhood and always means one thing. Its those racers in their rice rockets again!
To the layman, a rice rocket is just another Japanese car, but among the young generation, this stands for a certain class of these popular imports. Rice rockets cannot be bought at car dealers. Normal Japanese cars must be made into rice rockets. Rice rockets are Japanese cars that have been modified, altered, reworked, repainted, re-engineered, etc. into either a racing machine, or something that just looks and sounds like one.
A car without any of these changes is just a standard model and is called stock. Any car straight out the dealer would definitely be considered stock.
An important part of being a rice rocket is the look. It is very easy to spot one among many cars. There are numerous telltale signs that distinguish them from ordinary cars. No car can be considered a rice rocket unless it’s lowered.
The lower the car the better, preferably a couple of inches off the ground. It is taboo to have stock rims on a rice rocket. Nice rims are pricey, but a must. Also a must is tinted windows. Other rice rocket owners frown upon having transparent windows. Loud colors are a sure giveaway that its a rice rocket.
One color is usually not enough; many prefer two or three tones. Many decals supplement ricer rockets, blanketing the car with racing stripes, names, insignias, cartoon characters, or anything that is designed to attract peoples attention on the road. The richer owners go all out starting from stereos with deafening speakers to even entire entertainment centers complete with TV, VCR, and video game systems. What many owners strive for is uniqueness. This is much desired, and some extreme cases of car rebuilding that have been noted were changing the doors to swivel upwards much like the Famous Lamborghini Countach and moving the steering wheel to the right side of the car to make it “more Japanese”. Car contests are popular attractions where people can show off their rice rockets and win money and prizes.
Although looks pay an important role, the wild looks originated from racing which is the heart of it all. Anything and everything that increases the cars performance is used such as: spoilers for better traction, fiberglass replacements for windows and other body parts in order to reduce weight, nitrous for a quick boost of speed down the track, roll cages for protection, exhausts that add power, replacing engines with ones from better cars, etceteras. Since racing is usually done on the streets which is illegal, and because of the costly parts, there are fewer rice rockets that are made to race than those that are just look nice.
The rice rocket phenomenon can be attributed to power and status. Males own the majority of rice rockets. The never-ending struggle of male dominance throughout time was what started racing since cars were invented.
Many racing gangs have formed each flaunting their names with matching team member decals on their rice rockets. In general, rice rocket gangs are not violent and do not get into fights. Instead they compete for prestige, money, or pink slips. Racing for pink slips it the ultimate prize: the ownership of the losers car and his pride.
Cars have always been considered status symbols. Among the upper class, an expensive Italian sports car or a Rolls Royce are prime examples of car status symbols.
Owners of rice rockets are primarily middle class. A rice rocket is an affordable alternative status symbol for a middle class youth. Used stock import cars can be purchased cheaply, and then turned into rice rockets for a few hundred dollars more.
Recently, the popularity of the rice rocket has caused the advent of legal import car races and has taken .