North Texas Daily

In defense of takeovers: motorsports’ unloved step-child

In defense of takeovers: motorsports’ unloved step-child

In defense of takeovers: motorsports’ unloved step-child
December 13
10:00 2021

The smell of burning rubber wafts through the air. A sea of 20-somethings and teens have formed a massive circle, shutting down an intersection. The center is a whirlwind of muscle cars, Japanese models, pickup and any other rear-wheel-drive oddity that they could get their hands on. The smoke billows through the air as these “swingers” do “donuts” and “burnouts” as the crowd roars.

This is a Dallas takeover.

Takeovers, also referred to as slideshows, have a storied history. They began in Oakland, California in the ’80s as a social event where young people could show off their automotive skills. It quickly spread across the country in the subsequent decades with a massive uptick in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While a large portion of DFW’s young people is obsessed with these events, some residents aren’t too fond of California culture getting a bigger stake in the metroplex’s image. Fox 4 refers to the phenomenon as a “plague” onto Dallas streets.

But most of these detractors all seem to miss the point of takeovers and jump to conclusions. They are not street racing — they are an entryway to motorsports for ethnic groups that aren’t present on the podium.

Motorsports do not have a very diverse crowd of drivers. It wasn’t until 2015 that Wendell Scott, NASCAR’s first Black driver, was recognized properly with a posthumous position in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Bubba Wallace is the first Black driver to receive a premier win since Scott’s win in 1963.

Formula Drift, the largest drift league in the U.S., does not have a single Black pro driver. This isn’t highly shocking considering a very frugal track day lands at just under $400.

With the large financial hurdles of getting into motorsports already being an issue, the location of tracks just exacerbates the problem. While a track is nowhere near most of these people, a sideshow doesn’t cost a dime. Of course they will hone their skills in the center of the city considering their community won’t see their talents otherwise.

But detractors of takeovers do have a point: a completely unregulated group of citizens shutting down intersections and occasionally causing property damage can’t be allowed in a civilized society. The city in an effort to curb takeovers has put man-hours and taxpayer dollars into impounding cars, ticketing spectators and surveillance of big names in the community.

But the one fix they never considered was organizing a “legal pit” in the city. TSNLS (Turnt Shit No Lame Shit) hosted their first “legal pit” event in Atlanta this September. The event was in collaboration with the “Take it to The Track ATL” collective that focuses on taking street drivers over to the track. The event had a great turnout, no injuries were reported and attendees enjoyed themselves.

The best comparison to takeovers in the sports world is skateboarding. They were both considered a public menace a loud racket keeping some up late at night. Skateboarding solved this problem years ago. If practitioners of a sport have a place designated for them, most of a community’s issues with its practitioners are null and void. Skate parks require construction and man-hours. All the takeover community needs is an empty parking lot and a few barricades.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Alex Corey

Alex Corey

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