Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

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Inside OC’s Thriving Street Takeover Scene

(Jett Shim)

Packed parking lots, clouds of exhaust fumes, and herds of people running to the nearest vehicle burning rubber on asphalt. Before you know it, a 2018 Ford Mustang begins to pop flames out of its exhaust system. No longer being a simple meetup of car enthusiasts admiring each other’s cars this is what a car meet gone wrong looks like.

For most people, Sunday night means going to sleep and getting ready for work or school tomorrow. For others, it means car gatherings.

From the most exotic Lamborghinis to the cheapest “shitbox”—a beaten down 90s Honda Civic or color mix-match Mazda Miata worth under $1,000— you can find all kinds of cars coming together on a weekly basis to rev up their engines, pop flames out of their exhaust system, and screech donuts.

At 9 p.m. on a Sunday in October, a small car meet-up organization TheBigBangMeets is setting up in a shopping plaza in Garden Grove.

Honda Civics with aftermarket exhaust pipes and crews in Ford Mustangs show up in a single file line. Funky cars like lowriders and lowered trucks, exotic vehicles like glowing Lamborghinis, and even Yokohama and Kawasaki motorcycles roll into the meet.

A variety of small business vendors pull up as well. There are stands selling HotWheels, clothing merch, stickers, food, and cannabis as cars are pulling in.

By 9:30 p.m. the area begins to get crowded with mostly people in their early 20s, though there are people of all ages as well. From groups of teenagers hanging out to children wandering around with their parents, everyone is animated and waiting for the show to begin.

As the red Disneyland fireworks set off 3 miles away, the crowd is walking around admiring others’ cars and taking photos of the engine bays.

A group of young men is taking pictures posing in front of the cars. One is wearing a clown mask resembling the murderous clown of the “IT” movie and another wears an old man mask. It’s so crowded that some cars are parked in the lane that leads up to the plaza.

Everything is going well so far with no signs of cops anywhere, and the show is closer and closer to the beginning. One car begins to rev its engine. All it takes is one engine rev or exhaust pop to make a “chill” car meet into a full-on car takeover. A car meet is a legal gathering of car enthusiasts trying to hang out and admire one another’s rides. A car takeover is an illegal gathering of car groups performing reckless and dangerous driving on the street or parking lot.

The crowd runs like a flock of birds towards a 2018 white Mustang GT, chanting and cheering, hoping for another exhaust pop. The crowd is starting to go wild. Everyone is expecting more cars to join in. One black BMW M3 revs his engine loud enough to steal the attention away. However, it only lasts about a minute, as the car meet is Mustang-heavy. Many more Mustang GTs join the white GT by popping their exhaust systems, in an attempt to get all the attention back.

This is usually what kicks off a takeover at a car meet. But tonight, the party crashes just as it is beginning.  As 10 p.m. strikes, the cops show up. At car meets, cops usually stay in their vehicles and hang out at exits with their siren lights on as a sign of warning against exhaust pops or burning tires out.

As soon as the cops show up, one car tries to sneak away. The car drives as slowly as possible to make it seem like it is stock and not modified with illegal aftermarket parts. However, it’s not enough to trick the cops and they pull him over for inspection.

Suddenly, like a flash of light, the car accelerates. He speeds off, leaving the crowd behind. Everyone watches as the cop chases after him.

At that point, the rest of the cops block the road to keep any late attendees from joining.

One of the exits out of the plaza is open for the crowd to leave, though it is being monitored by police, and people start heading out, knowing there is no chance that tonight will become an illegal takeover. At least one to two cops are stationed on every exit of the plaza making sure nobody does anything illegal, like popping their exhaust system or donuts as they leave.

One Civic pops its exhaust, then a Dodge and burns its tires. One-by-one the cars rebel against the lockdown as they line up to leave the plaza. A white Cadillac CTS V burns out his tires to the asphalt so much so that the plaza fills up half of the entire plaza with smoke. Everyone that’s left of the crowd begins to cheer once again; this is what they came to see.

A person in a black Honda motorcycle couldn’t help but want the same attention. Revving his motorcycle as loud as he could, the attention was suddenly on him.

With the momentum of the crowd on his side, a motorcyclist goes up to the cops and begins teasing them, revving the motorcycle within feet of the cop cars. They look helpless, almost as if they knew there was no way of catching up to the motorcycle in a chase.

By 10:35 p.m. most people have left the car meet. Vendors are packing up or doing last calls for sales. Suddenly the car meet is dead. People try to find alternatives.

In some cases, if the meet is broken up far too early the organizer tries to post a quick relocation to post on their Instagram story.

In other cases, like this one, most people just split up into small friend groups and hang out in an empty parking lot or liquor store like a 7/11 to hang out or take pictures. Nonetheless, car enthusiasts in the O.C. always find a way to represent car culture.