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 what their cars are all about. It looks like people actually care because, each week, more than a thousand folks also show up to get pissed, listen to obscenely loud music and have a gawk at what's basically just an automobile pissing contest. In fact, the event has in the last few months gotten so popular, that people have started showing up hours before its 10PM kick off just to get a good spot.
Onlookers crowd around a small roundabout — literally the only thing separating the makeshift track from the rest of the parking lot. As soon as the first cars enter the ring, the commotion dies and there's a sort of respectful silence. Within seconds of them starting to spin their tires against the tarmac, the air fills with a thick grey smoke and a horrid stench of melted rubber. It's that same noxious bang that fills the pub when one of your mates accidentally lights their hair on fire.
All the usual BMWs, Mercedes and AUDIs are there, but there's also plenty more everyday cars that you wouldn't expect to see — or at least not until they start revving their bowel loosening engines.
To an innocent bystander the whole affair may seem pretty lawless but actually, it's quite calculated. Supposedly, the most important rule is that you have to let the driver ahead finish their 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 of drivers take turns slaloming in and out of the car park lampposts — impressively managing to somehow dodge them. At one point, the whole thing did actually have to stop for a bit because two of the smaller cars smashed into each other. I guess it can't have been that serious because both drivers climbed out and shook hands like true gentlemen.
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At the other end of the car park, a group of guys were having it out about who had the biggest and loudest (read: most irritating) sound-system. An unfortunate competition where the only real loser is actually the audience.
Being slightly confused as to what the whole thing was about, I asked a member of the audience to explain: "These guys live for speed. Every car you see here has probably been souped up for twice the money it was bought," said Chris M, who maintained that he's never missed a Thursday.
"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 civilised. When I asked what happens if the cops show up, I was told that everyone just packs up and goes home. How very polite.