Search Scrutinize

Photographer Norman Wong documents Toronto’s underground Street Racing meets

Street Racing is unoffical in Toronto. A mix of ‘Meets and ‘Runs’ this is an ongoing series exploring the Toronto suburbs through the culture of street racing and modified cars.

Originally from the suburbs, Norman Wong’s worked hard to get out. He finds it funny that he now goes back to document such an exciting and underground world that was there even while he growing up. It was around the Greater Toronto Area—specifically the suburb of Markham, Ontario—where drag racing can be found. Even in school, he would hear of meetups and races around Kennedy Commons, which became a prime ground for Modified Automobiles Showcases.

In 2015 Wong noticed a parking lot where a couple of guys were shining their modified car so he started to chat with them. This opened the door, and after photographing a few bits,  he discovered the more he dug the more he found.

These car meets are unofficial, ranging from very organized (STRADA) to more DIY (Phantom Meets GTA, Club Synergy, Kaiten). Wong is documenting as many angles as possible, to fully explore the world of modified automobiles in Toronto and do it in a style that is not often associated with this type of racing scene.

Wong has also been able to capture some “runs”—a term for street races around the airport strip. There is a lot of unspoken code during the runs which although is simple, takes the right people to educate you in what is happening. People just meet at a spot, where they wait until a unanimous leader starts revving their engine, and they lead the pack to a race zone where motorcycles and mod cars race. These races happen with a couple rounds, and they race until they get busted. Then everyone meets at another location until it happens again, eventually ending up in somewhere like Oakville, sometimes going until 5 AM

I always dreaded the suburbs, I fought hard to get out so that I could pursue outsider ambitions like photographing the music scene in Toronto. But when I started a collaboration with a Toronto men’s wear shop called Working Title, which also focuses on art photo books, co-owner Paul Shkordoff and I had been talking about working on a project together that helps us embrace where we grew up (he’s from Oshawa, another Toronto suburb). So it was funny to find myself this past year going back out and embracing the suburbs only to realize that there was such an exciting and subversive underground scene going on around me all along.