We are preparing the soup of our ride. neighbors are angry

LONG BEACH, CA - August 10, 2021 - Jonathan Rodriguez, 20, stands next to his 1963 Impala Supersport lowrider at Speedy's Metal Finishing on August 10, 2021 in Long Beach.  Rodriguez did most of the updates on his car at a place owned by his father, Luis. "Soon"  Rodriguez.  "I will spend a lot of time upgrading the car during the quarantine,"  Jonathan said.  They added new batteries, added new coils, changed to one-way hydraulics, and fixed the convertible top.  Jonathan, "high class car club" which was founded by his father.  California's aftermarket industry, which is one of the largest in the country, flourished during the pandemic.  It's made up of companies that help people modify their cars to go faster, run more efficiently, corner better, have smaller brakes and look better.  These companies did record business in 2020, keeping pace with owners like Rodriguez.  (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Jonathan Rodriguez, 20, stands next to his 1963 Impala Super Sport lowrider, which he worked on during the pandemic lockdown. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

It’s not your imagination. At a stoplight, the driver is spinning his engine hard enough to set off the car alarm. Then as soon as the signal turns green, it roars, even if it is only for the next stoplight.

Like some kind of pandemic-induced pranic scream, this floor-the-pedal thing is happening everywhere. That’s because global semiconductor shortages are making new cars scarce, and low inventory is making older cars expensive, so people with the time and money are ditching them in their old rides – and some want them as fast as possible. Making it faster.

The record $47.9 billion 2020 sales year for California’s aftermarket automotive industry was a major contributor to parts sales to make vehicles fast, attractive, and sometimes too noisy, according to data from the Specialty Equipment Market Assn.

For enthusiasts, spending money on their dream projects represents a psychological refuge from the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, said Mike Spagnola, vice president of SEMA.

“While people couldn’t travel, while they couldn’t spend money on hotels and food, because they couldn’t get out and do concerts and all those kinds of things, men and women were able to put some things in their cars. Used to put time and effort and trucks,” he said.

Jonathan Rodriguez was looking for something to break the isolation and monotony of the pandemic.

The 20-year-old Long Beach resident found it in a 1963 Chevy Impala Super Sport Lowrider, which can be seen and felt courtesy of the 400-horsepower, 6.0-liter General Motors LS2 V8 Corvette engine. Considering the car’s ability to roar, Rodriguez said he takes care to drive comfortably in residential areas so that he doesn’t disturb people.

Rodriguez said, “I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know when this lockdown is going to end,’ but it’s giving us extra time to ride our way where we want to.” “I’ve got a lot of work done which I probably wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for the lockdown.”

Rodriguez re-chromed the car’s bumpers, added a new sound system, new headlights, a new drive shaft, new suspension coils, and improved hydraulics that raise the car to different heights and angles, even for a novice. Will not done. seems possible.

Much of the work in Speedy’s metal finishing was done around the corner from the family home under the tutelage of their father, Luis “Speedy” Rodriguez, a legend in post-California businesses that cater to low riders. As restrictions were eased, the car was further burned by several other experts around Southern California.

“Soon” has been a much sought-after patronymic; Every time Rodriguez thought the car might finally be complete, he was told no, it isn’t. Attention to detail clearly paid off; Rodriguez sold his car to a Florida bodybuilder for $150,000. He says he hopes it is highly inspired and not just used for show.

“That’s for the streets, never too pretty to be dirty,” she said with a laugh.

In this photo a man is standing next to a car with its trunk open

Jonathan Rodriguez stands next to his 1963 Impala Super Sport lowrider. The trunk reveals the new batteries they installed along with a new hydraulic system. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Aftermarket professionals like the Rodriguez family and weekend hobbyists are furious with lockdown street racers making them all bad. Pandemic restrictions have led to a sharp rise in some motor vehicle drivers letting off steam at dangerous exhibitions fueled by social media.

The California Highway Patrol answered nearly 26,000 street racing calls last year, up about 16% from a year ago. In August, four people were killed in separate incidents in Burbank and Riverside after street racers lost control of their cars.

The California Legislature voted last week to allow judges to issue the suspension of a driver’s license for six months to anyone participating in so-called sideshows, measures that allow two or more vehicles to perform vehicle stunts, speed competitions. or reckless driving defines it as blocking traffic. Listner. This is the same fine that already applies to illegal street racing, which has increased during the pandemic.

“My local law enforcement officers wrote to AB3 in response to a growing security issue in our community and across the state,” said Vince Fong, a Republican assemblyman representing Bakersfield. Street racing. “Since the debut of AB3, sideshows and illegal street racing accidents have reached out to families broken and even traveled to the Capitol to share the heartbreaking stories of their loss. “

Lawmakers in Los Angeles and other cities are being pressured to increase the number of speed barriers, traffic circles and other measures to slow cars. “Noise cameras” are popping up in New York, Florida and the UK to crack down on loud exhaust systems.

“A lot of people are taking it to the streets, and I am really against street racing,” said Tatiana Weiss, 49, a Pacific Palisades real estate broker who scat an absurdly fast 485 horsepower Dodge Challenger R/T Packed. . Then, like some real-life character in the “Fast and Furious” movie franchise, he decided it wasn’t fast enough.

“I got called a lot, but I wouldn’t race down the street. ‘You wanna bet some money from me that you’re faster?'” she would say. “‘Meet me on the track and let’s do it.'”

on a medium called City-Data.com Forum, Shore Debate, a national forum for the discussion of local issues, is broadcast regularly.

“For some of us, the sound of a powerful engine makes us happy, and the sounds echoing in a tunnel or from buildings are pleasant,” said one member.

“The sound of a V8 engine is stress relief for me and I love to hear it,” said another.

But people troubled by the noise have done a lot.

One member wrote, “Something just drove yesterday and it was so loud my ears were exploding and I know it must have been hundreds of feet away from me. I’m amazed at how fast some cars are.”

David Barnes, a 59-year-old Southern Californian who works in industrial safety, said he never really understood the push toward larger amounts of horsepower and faster exhaust. But when he went shopping for his 19-year-old Ford F-250 pickup with 191,000 miles on the odometer, Barnes got the sticker shock of his life.

“I saw new trucks and everything I wanted was a new version of what I have now,” Barnes said, “and I was going to see a truck that cost $80,000 to $100,000.” .

He instead turned to Gail Banks Engineering, a California aftermarket performance parts specialist in Azusa.

Barnes’ truck spent a week in Banks’ garage, where a replacement intercooler was installed along with a new cold air intake, a new exhaust system, and a turbocharger upgrade. Banks’ mechanics also added a new electronic controller to the truck’s transmission. The cost of the change, Barnes said, turned out to be a very reasonable $10,000. Verdict: Better than the new version of your old truck.

“It was really a no-brainer,” Barnes said. “I picked up the truck from them, and I was a little timid about it at first. And I had to tell you, I thought, ‘Let me uncover this thing,’ because I’m moving away from their facility. It was like, ‘ Alright, it’s like brand new. “

GAIL Banks Engineering has had the best sales year ever, Banks said, at 79. The pandemic isolation, he said, has prompted many people to overhaul their older recreational vehicles, giving them their own bubble for travel. The other big business these days is automotive makeovers of older vehicles.

“They’re gravitating to the exhaust system because the bang for the buck is really big. That means, it increases fuel efficiency and mileage for a much cheaper price,” Banks said.

In July, Carparts.com Inc. recorded quarterly sales of $157.5 million, up 32.5% from the same period a year ago. The Torrance Company, which sells more than 100,000 types of auto parts and accessories nationwide, has posted six straight quarters of sales growth, which chief executive Lev Pecker attributed to the nation’s older vehicles.

Pekar said the average age of their customers’ vehicles is over 12 years old, the highest ever.

“It suggests right into our sweet spot, which is a 6-year to 14-year-old vehicle,” Pecker said. “For us, it’s a tailwind, because it’s driving more maintenance. It’s buying more parts for those vehicles because they need repairs. So, it’s definitely driving business, and we expect are that this will be a tailwind for the foreseeable future as well.”

Weiss decided to take his interest in speed to a different level.

For Weiss, the lockdown period was “absolutely 100% skyrocketing my journey into racing. And it’s funny, I didn’t know this was a trend, that a lot of other people were using this time to work on their cars.” I thought it was just me because I had waited a lifetime to do something like this.”

Weiss figures he has invested $40,000 in a 797 horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye modified for drag racing.

The perfectly good stock driver’s seat weighed 80 pounds; He replaced it with a 12-pound racing seat. Weiss added a roll cage, a seat harness, larger fuel injectors. The car came with Italian Brembo brakes, considered by many to be the pinnacle of braking power. Weiss said they were too heavy, and replaced them with an even more exotic brand from Willwood Engineering in Camarillo.

The result is something that pushes him back to his seat and takes his breath away.

“It’s like, somebody opened this door to say, you can get this excitement. And it’s like everything going down the quarter mile too fast,” Weiss said. “It’s such a thrill to be able to beat the guy in the other street. It’s amazing.”

Weiss was enough to earn a role in Discovery’s reality show “Street Outlaws”, where the races appear to be illegal, but they run on closed streets with permits and police escorts. Nevertheless, filming usually generates a lot of noise complaints from nearby residents.

That’s why Weiss said she prefers real racetracks. There, the paying audience doesn’t get to hear your car scream.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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