A term that originated in southern California in the 1930s to describe the customized motor vehicles that were adapted to achieve the fastest possible speeds on roads and streets—‘drags’, rather than purpose-designed tracks. The term is of unknown origin, though could well refer to forms of burn-out of engine parts. Such contests appealed in particular to young male adults or late adolescents, with speed and danger providing physical thrills characterized too by macho performative display and a spirit of youthful rebellion. On its professional level in the USA (National Hot Rod Association), the national champion from 2004 to 2008 was Tony Schumacher, nicknamed ‘The Sarge’ for his army look, and sponsored by the US Army. Schumacher, as the winner of more championships than any other driver, reaching speeds of over 330 miles per hour, was hardly resonant of hot rod's countercultural image, more a symbol of the sport's entry into the mainstream of US entertainment culture.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.