This article originally appeared on VICE Greece.
Every Thursday, a few dozen guys meet up in a parking lot in Thessaloniki to show the world how badass their rides are. It's a car pissing contest a la Fast and the Furious, and it draws crowds of over 1000 people each week. While engines rev, the spectators pound beers and listen to obscenely loud music. The gatherings have become more popular over the last few months, and people now show up hours before the 10 PM start time to get a good spot.
A small roundabout is the only thing separating the makeshift track from the rest of the parking lot. As soon as the first cars enter the ring a sort of respectful silence falls over the audience. As the driver peels out, tires spinning against the tarmac, the air fills with thick gray smoke. It's the same noxious odor that filled the room when your college roommate lit his chest hair on fire in the dorm.
To an innocent bystander the whole affair may seem pretty lawless, but it's actually quite calculated. Supposedly, the most important rule is one of common courtesy—let the driver ahead of you finish his or her show before you enter the "ring." People have waited all week to pop a wheelie in their Mazda and they'll be damned if they get stopped before they've done it.
The more adventurous drivers take turns slaloming in and out of the parking lot's lampposts, and at one point, two smaller cars crashed into each other. The whole thing stopped momentarily, until both drivers climbed out unscathed and shook hands like true gentlemen.
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One of the attendees, Chris M, told me"These guys live for speed. Every car you see here has probably been souped up for twice the money it was bought. Most participants or attendees are working class men. They work at garages or tire services and do as much overtime as they can just so they can afford a new exhaust pipe or some tires."
As rowdy as it may look, the whole affair was actually quite civilized. When I asked what happens if the cops show up, I was told that everyone just packs up and goes home. How very polite.
- Kostas Koukoumakas