Monday, December 16, 2013

Millennials Behind the Wheel

Several car/driving enthusiasts discussed the impact of the Fast and the Furious movie franchise has had on them, or lack thereof, and on car culture.

Cars have become extensions of people’s lives one way or another. They are honest beasts of machines because they only run as well as they are treated. This relationship between man and machine is examined through the lens of various car/driving enthusiasts in the Greater New York area. 

Car culture is not only relegated to the $30,000 dollar machines people use to commute to work, but also to more recreational areas such as go-karting. Enthusiasts are given the opportunity to explore the laws of physics in a venue where they can perform maneuvers that cannot be performed on the road.

Martin Ziga, a father of two girls, understands and appreciates the intricacies of driving as he takes his children to school every day through the hectic NYC traffic. The Bronx resident enjoys the freedom go-karting offers.

“There was a fire commissioner in my last race and the whole last two laps it was just me and him. And on the last turn, I got [on the inside] of him and he had a choice to make: he could either challenge me and possibly crash or let me go,” Ziga said.

Driving enthusiasts are commonly misconceived as those who love nothing but speed.  Speed, however, is not what attracts all enthusiasts. Dennis Willis, Jr., a junior at Rutgers University in Newark, simply likes driving for the convenience it provides. He is concerned with reckless behavior other drivers demonstrate.

“Experienced drivers do some crazy [stuff] and I’m just over here like ‘come on!’ I’m not ready for that.  Just relax while I’m on the road,” Willis, Jr. said.

Jonathan Harper, an employee of the Classic Car Club in Manhattan, not only has been obsessed with the automobile since birth, but now works with some of the world’s fastest and most popular cars. The NJ native recalled a cross-country road trip he made with his father to buy his first car.

“[We] did a trip from NJ to California and back in his ’94 Volvo 850 wagon. He told me I could drive in any state where I could own a gun or get married at the age of 12, so I drove in Wyoming,” Harper said.

Harper discussed what the Fast and the Furious franchise did for the industry today.

“There’s kind of a resurgence in American enthusiasm. In the most basic way, it exposed more people to more motorsport stuff,” Harper said.  “It hasn’t really had an effect personally on me, other than seeing the first movie and being like ‘whoa, [Honda] Civics can actually be pretty cool.”

The Classic Car Club (CCC) is private club in Manhattan in which members pay high dollar to drive some of the world’s most exotic vehicles  such as a 1989 BMW M3, McLaren 12C, and the Aston Martin Vantage just to name a few.

Car culture and driving are male-dominated environments in America, but female enthusiasts do exist and are here to stay. Anna Rizzo, a student at NJIT, explained why there is a negative view of females in regards to cars.

“I think a lot of girls are nervous, especially, are nervous about getting behind the wheel because there are so many accidents,” Rizzo said.  

Rizzo also talked about why the millennial generation does not seem as excited about cars as the previous generation.

“I think they’re expensive, so our generation is thinking about cars in a different way now,” Rizzo said.

On the other hand, there remains a special group within the millennial generation that is still in love with what these machines have to offer.

Mustafa Lawrence, a junior at Rutgers University in Newark, talked about this group and why they are inspired.

“You have those kids that love cars. They put their all into [it]. They work a part-time job just for their car,” Lawrence said.

The enthusiast population will be made even smaller with the production of self-driving cars. These vehicles will allow the general population to not worry about the dangers of other drivers on the roads.  A whole new infrastructure is in the development, albeit in the distant future, that will accommodate self-driving vehicles.

Praful Mathur is the founder of DerivativeD, a company that is focused on producing kits for people to build their own self-driving vehicles with open source software.

“We see the transportation problem in the world exacerbating because of limited road infrastructure or the inability to afford some of the vehicles that are available,” Mathur said. “There will be parts of the country that will be open to human driving, but I think the majority of the roads are going to be [for] self-driving.”

***This is a repost. I posted on time!***

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