Longform

The Fast and the Frustrated

Page 8 of 8

But Kirk's "baby," as he affectionately calls it, has a claim to fame few other cars in Arizona share. It was one of the cars featured in the movie, making it a kind of celebrity to almost every kid racing around in a tricked-out import today.

"If you have The Fast and the Furious DVD, you can see it best in the Race Wars scene," says the friendly 21-year-old, patting the roof of his little star parked in the driveway at his mom's house in an affluent Mesa neighborhood. "There's an aerial shot that goes up above all the cars in the lot, and my car is the yellow thing smack dab in the middle. You can't miss it. That's the scene I show all my friends."

Naturally, the car attracts attention almost everywhere Kirk drives it -- which is, ironically, part of why he now feels he has to sell it.

"It's a cop magnet," he says. "Plus, people are always trying to steal it. I was sitting in a gas station one night, and my friend was buying some beer. And this guy comes up and goes, 'Let me have a ride.' I tell him, 'No,' and he pulls out a gun on me. My friend grabs the gun barrel and knees him in the stomach, we take off and he turns around and starts shooting at us."

That kind of action was a little too close to the movies, Kirk says, laughing. But there's even a bigger reason he decided to list his baby in the Auto Trader: Kirk's girlfriend is pregnant with the real thing right now.

"I'm about to have a baby and I don't need to be going to jail anymore," says the currently unemployed Kirk, still grounded because of a DUI bust a few months back that occurred while he was driving the Civic. "This is like a kid car. And soon I'm going to be having a kid myself."

Maturity, and a sense of finally having something to lose, are probably the biggest reasons street racers hang up the NOS canisters.

"I used to go to the street races, like in San Diego, back in '99," says Paul Coggeshall at the one-year-old tuner shop he now runs in Tempe called Power Xtreme. "We'd go out at, like, 2 in the morning, and there'd be a minimum of 2,000 people there. Both sides of the street would be lined with people, and hundreds of cars would be lined up to race.

"Now it's like, why take a chance? Trying to get this business going is the hardest thing. I've got way too much to lose."

For others, the constant fear of flashing red lights can begin to get a little old. "You get home and you're looking out the blinds every night, wondering if a squad car is gonna show up at your door," says Trevor James, now 27 and married. "I'm just getting too old for that."

"I'm not really into this anymore," says Barry Kirk, lovingly running his hand over the car's decaled hood in a way that suggests he's still struggling to convince himself on that matter. "Plus, most of this is fiber glass, so if I get hit with a baby in here, that's it. It's not exactly what you would call a family car."

Still, that's not to say Kirk is completely leaving behind all of his street-racing friends. Kicking the addictive adrenaline rush that comes from driving 130 mph on a deserted stretch of Valley roadway is something that can only be done with a very understanding support group.

"Call me Saturday night," he says, just out of earshot of his bulging new bride. "I know a few guys who might be doing something."

E-mail [email protected], or call 602-229-8478.

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Jimmy Magahern
Contact: Jimmy Magahern