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Thailand | Boy Racers

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This is a typical Thai boy racer's car

This is a typical Thai boy racer's car

 

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Thailand - Boy Racers of Thailand

Introduction

This phenomenon is certainly not unique to Thailand. Little boys all over the world decorate their cars in a way they think will enhance their manhood. They are known in the States as 'ricers' because most American boy racers prefer Japanese cars. In the UK they are known as boy racers. The singer Morrissey even wrote a song about them.

 

Yet another comical Thai boy racer car

Yet another comical Thai boy racer car

 

In Singapore the 'Ah Beng' boys race around the streets in their Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubushi Evos. Malaysians driving across the border into Thailand arrive in their customised Protons. Thai males also have a particular fascination with pickup trucks. In addition to old BMWs and Colt Lancers there are lots of Isuzu and Toyota pickup trucks that have been given the 'go fast' treatment.

 

The Fast and Furious movies are a cult in Thailand

The Fast and Furious movies are a cult in Thailand

 

Typical Thai boy racer car

Typical Thai boy racer car

 

Watching their antics and laughing at their cars would be quite amusing if it wasn't for the fact that Thailand is one of the most dangerous country in the world for road accidents (1st in the world for motorbike accidents) and the culture of street racing is responsible for a lot of the carnage on Thai roads.

It's almost impossible to get accurate statistics and different sources provide different information. Some sources list Thailand as being the second most dangerous country in the world, other sources list the country lower down. Regardaless of where Thailand appears on the list, some of the behaviour I witness personally every day on Thai roads is beyond insane.

Countries With The Highest Road Traffic Death Rate

Boy racers may be a global phenomenon, but there is a big difference in Thailand. In countries where laws are enforced their antics are restricted by the police. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen in Thailand.

They have absolutely no concern for other people's safety and go crazy in areas where there are lots of pedestrians including very young children and very old people.

The police aren't interested and other Thais will never say anything or intervene, partly because of the cultural concept of greng jai and partly because they are afraid of vengeance. The truth about Thailand is that the country is almost lawless, especially on the roads.

I wrote this page to poke fun at them, but also to highlight a very serious social problem in Thailand.

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Thai Boy Racer Customisation Guide

In an effort to be individual and unique, all non-conformist Thai boy racers do exactly the same thing to their vehicles. There is a standard formula and it doesn't take much working out.

You may think that what they do is a complete waste of time and money, but actually it serves a couple of useful purposes.

 

A flying banana

A flying banana

 

If you drive in Thailand you need to keep an eye out for idiots all the time. When you see the average 'boy racer mobile' replete with huge spoiler, huge exhaust tailpipe and fake red Brembo brake calipers, you know that this idiot needs to be avoided.

Also, if you're in the market for a used car and come across a car that has been decorated in such a way, it should be given a very wide berth.

Here's my guide.

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Choosing a Car

This is all about available funds. Roughly 60% of Thai men are a waste of space (a statistic given to me by Thai females) and as a result of never studying and then getting a low-paid job, they have little money.

 

Words fail me

Words fail me

 

A 20 year-old Honda Civic or Colt Lancer would fit the bill. It needs to have hundreds of thousands of kilometres on the clock and bad bodywork. For some reason, Thai males think they are something special if they have an equally old, equally clapped out BMW.

A 20 year-old piece of junk is still a 20 year-old piece of junk regardless of the make. Thais just don't get this.

Old Nissan Cefiros are also popular, as are pickup trucks. Basically, it doesn't really matter. Most of the boy racer cars are the same models that grannie does her shopping in, but they still think they are racing drivers when they bolt on a big exhaust pipe and a silly spoiler.

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Exhaust Tail Pipe

The fashion has changed in recent years. Thai boy racers used to put huge chromed baked bean cans stuck on the end of their cars' skinny exhaust systems. There are many shops that are dedicated to selling these huge pieces of pipe.

What effect does it have on performance? Absolutely nothing. In fact, it often reduces engine power. What does it do? It makes a lot of noise. Do they realise how stupid these things look? Obviously not.

I'm not an automotive engineer, but my understanding is that when you start modifying engines to gain performance you need to work on everything. Inlet manifolds, cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, downpipes and exhaust systems all need changing.

A baked bean can stuck on the end of the exhaust pipe without doing anything else does absolutely nothing, apart from making the owner of the car look really stupid.

I've had the misfortune to travel in cars that have these dumb tailpipes fitted and the noise inside the car is awful.

 

Chromed baked bean can

Chromed baked bean can

 

The craze now is to have multiple fake exhaust pipes at the back of the car on either side. I have seen cars with two and even three exhaust pipes on either side. Yes, a 1.8 Honda Civic with six exhaust tailpipes poking out the back.

 

The new Thai boy racer exhaust trend

The new Thai boy racer exhaust trend

 

How many of these exhaust pipes get used? Just one. Originally I thought that they actually connected the additional tailpipes. They don't. The extra ones are there purely for show and aren't connected to anything. If you look closely, you will see that only one is dirty and only one vibrates when the engine is running. If you look under the car you will see what I mean.

It is beyond pathetic. And it's noy just spotty 17 year-old youths with their first cars. This adolescent beahviour continues through life and I see Thai men in their 40's decorating their cars the same way.

Decorative tailpipes for idiots - Click for larger image
Decorative tailpipes for idiots - Click for larger image
Decorative tailpipes for idiots - Click for larger image

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Wheels

Car manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that cars handle properly and that they are safe. Nothing is done in isolation. Every individual component is tested as part of a system and provided that the finished system is kept intact everything will continue to be safe.

Wheel and tyre sizes are of critical importance, and manufacturers such as Porsche even take things a step further by specifying their own 'N' ratings for tyres in addition to all the other specifications.

This is another thing that Thai boy racers just don't get.

After bolting a big exhaust tail pipe on the back of the car the next step is a trip to the local after market wheel shop for a set of fancy alloys and low profile tyres. These shops are everywhere in Thailand and must turn over a huge amount of money.

 

After market wheels in Thailand

After market wheels in Thailand

 

This immediately throws out all the suspension and steering geometry and makes the car potentially unsafe. It also messes with the accuracy of the speedometer, but this is of no importance to the boy racers who drive as fast as they can with no fear of being stopped by the police.

When I bought my car, which was used, the wheels were original but the tyres had been changed to lower profile versions. The speedometer was out by quite a bit, comparing it to the speed readout on my Garmin GPS. When the time came to replace the tyres I reverted to the manufacturer's approved specifications.

My car hadn't been owned by a boy racer previously and there was no need to have any silly 'go fast' parts removed.

Some of the after market wheels are quite attractive and on a suitable car that has been set up for such wheels would be a good addition. However, just like the other bolt-on goodies described here, when you see expensive alloy wheels and ultra-low profile tyres on an Isuzu pickup truck it just looks ridiculous.

The general rule with buying replacement wheels and tyres in Thailand is to ensure that their value is higher than the car they are going on.

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Spoilers

Genuinely fast cars have spoilers to increase downforce and thus improve grip and handling. Manfacturers of genuinely fast cars also have hugely expensive wind tunnels, expert qualified aerodynamic engineers, and lots of expensive software to design and position spoilers.

 

An unmistakeable Thai boy racer's car

An unmistakeable Thai boy racer's car

 

However, Somchai Junior has no need for any of these things on his car, which has no need for a spoiler in the first place. He believes he can just bolt a big wing on the boot lid to get a performance improvement. These boys are absolutely clueless.

As well as being completely useless, these ridiculous spoilers look pathetic. They even put them on pickup trucks.

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Brembo Brake Calipers

No Thai boy racer car is complete without a set of fake Brembo brake calipers. Just choose your colour and stick them on your existing brake calipers. Let's take a closer look at this.

 

Fake Brembo brake caliper

Fake Brembo brake caliper

 

Even if the calipers were genuine, just changing the calipers without changing any other components in the braking system probably wouldn't make any difference.

In any case, most of the 'Brembo' calipers aren't genuine. Thailand is the land of fake copies and image over appearance. I have even seen pieces of red plastic in the shape of a brake caliper with 'Brembo' written on them for sale that you place over the existing caliper.

 

Plastic covers to convert your brake calipers to Brembo calipers

Plastic covers to convert your brake calipers to Brembo calipers

 

At this juncture I am trying to think of a suitable adjective. The one that keeps coming to mind is pathetic, but it simply doesn't seem adequate.

You may think that what they do is a complete waste of time and money, but actually it serves a couple of useful purposes.

 

Genuine Brembo brakes - a very rare sight in Thailand

Genuine Brembo brakes - a very rare sight in Thailand

 

I have also seen fake Brembo calipers for motorbikes - the type of motorbikes with built in fairings that my grandfather used to ride.

The guys that have cars and trucks with drum brakes at the rear paint the drums red as if they want to advertise the fact they don't have disc brakes all round.

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Sound Systems

Thai boy racers want to be seen and heard. It worries them that maybe their exhaust tailpipe isn't making enough noise and they need to make more.

What's needed is a very loud sound system and a CD that has no musical content, but just repeatedly goes, "Boom boom boom boom."

 

Is this loud enough?

Is this loud enough?

 

The rules are fairly simple. The sound system should be so large that it uses up every available storage area of the car. After all, boy racer's cars are for street racing and endangering the lives of other people. They aren't used for anything practical and therefore no storage space is required.

Leave a little space for the extra battery that will be required to power several thousand Watts of power. You can leave your A/C off as you will want the windows open so that as many people as possible get a headache.

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Stickers

No Thai boy racer's car is complete without being plastered with stickers. The stickers fall into three categories. The first category is generic stickers and the rule seems to be that any sticker is acceptable, but it MUST include the word 'racing'. After all, racing on public highways is what their lives are all about.

 

Stupid stickers for stupid cars

Stupid stickers for stupid cars

 

The second category is stickers relating to 'go fast' accessories on the car. Even if they have a set of fake Brembo brake pads, a big 'Brembo' sticker can be applied, or a Bilstein sticker to try to give the impression that the car's suspension has been upgraded.

The third depends on the make of car and stickers should make reference to the motorsport division of a certain manufacturer or maybe a tuning house that works on certain makes of car.

Thai boy racers driving ancient Mitsubushi Lancers hold their rusting bodywork together with Ralliart stickers, while budding Thai F1 drivers in their 1.5 Honda City models choose Mugen stickers and Toyota Vios owners go for TRD (Toyota Racing Development).

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Idiot Badges

Whenever I see a Thai boy racer's car I know that it is owned by an idiot. Only idiots drive the way they do, only idiots wear baseball caps while driving, only idiots waste their time and money decorating their cars the way that Thai boy racers do.

 

Stupid badges for stupid cars

Stupid badges for stupid cars

 

However, it would seem that some idiots still aren't convinced that people know they are idiots and wish to go a bit further ... just to make sure.

What is the point of putting Mini Cooper and 2.4 V8 badges on the back of a 1.2 litre three-cylinder Nissan March?

Does the owner want other people to think his car is really a Mini Cooper disguised as a Nissan March? Does he want other people to think that he has somehow shoehorned a V8 engine into his Nissan March, even if he could find a 2.4 litre V8 engine?

I've seen plenty of Thai boy racer's cars with Benz and BMW badges on them and I even saw a V12 badge on one car, which had probably been stolen from a rich Thai's Mercedes Benz.

There is no limit to their stupidity.

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Dials

The car interior should resemble the cockpit of a light aircraft.

 

Extra dials

Extra dials

 

Altimeters are useful for when the stupid spoiler on the boot lid almost causes the car to take off and a decibel meter might be useful for trying to gauge how loudly people are laughing at your stupid car.

A depth gauge could be useful when all the suspension modifications, combined with driving too fast, cause the car to end up in one of the local klongs.

For owners of cars with 'Turbo' stickers on the back when the closest thing in the car to a turbocharger is Somchai's girlfriend's hairdryer on the back seat, a mock turbo boost gauge that can be controlled manually by blowing into a pipe might be useful.

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Visit Thailand

Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.

Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.

If you wish to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.

Images of Thailand

Images of Thailand