Young Rev-heads set Iraq drifting in a new direction
By Jack Barton
Young Iraqi men gather outside a padlocked gate leading to a tire blackened car park as the Friday call to prayers sounds out from the minaret of a neighboring mosque.
The gate was unlocked and cars were quietly driven inside, engines quickly turned off as a sign of respect while the call from the minaret continued.
Their cars looked as if they had been dragged from a wrecking yard. All excess metal and plastic have been removed, including bonnets, which would have no longer fitted above the tuned-up V8 engines bulging where four cylinder engines once perched.
Drifting at a parking lot. /CGTN Photo

Drifting at a parking lot. /CGTN Photo

These are the "zombie cars", but they are not the only vehicles that will be laying down rubber.  Soon the American muscle cars arrive, along with customized German street machines.
When the call to prayer ended, engines screamed to life and the first car disappeared in whirl of blue smoke before a set of tires exploded, sending rubber shards flying into the delighted crowd.
A lone man with a mobile phone held high dances around a spinning car as if he was a matador before an angry bull.  There would be many near misses before the day ended.
Drifting at a parking lot. /CGTN Photo

Drifting at a parking lot. /CGTN Photo

This is an informal gathering arranged over social media.
"This is all done by our own, the cars, the modifying, the sponsors, that’s what we are trying to do, that’s what we are trying to show," said Arshed H. Baghdadi, who runs Riot Gear, an organization that organizes drift events.
"We want to take this out to the public to at least regional, so we can get to people in the outside world that we don’t have just wars, you know, and shooting each other," said Arshed.
The drivers said they were aware their high revving engines drive local residents crazy and had been calling on the government to provide them with a more organized venue.
A family photo of the drivers. /CGTN Photo

A family photo of the drivers. /CGTN Photo

"This is not a place to drift so we want special places to make a drift,” said Hadeer al-Rubaye, whose wildly overpowered zombie car stirs applause from the crowd of about 60 young men every time it begins a tire-smoking run.
The drivers say they have been meeting for years, though their numbers have been rising.
The growing Iraqi economy has also seen zombie cars being replaced by far more expensive V8 muscle cars, with glossy paint and chromed low profile wheels.
They know many people see them as a bunch of petrol-heads, but believe what they do constitutes a growing sport that represents a drift in the right direction for a country where war has been the main pre-occupation for young men for the past 15 years.