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We're souping up our rides. The neighbors are furious

Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

"They're gravitating to exhaust systems because the bang for the buck is really big. By that, I mean, it increases the fuel efficiency and the mileage for a very affordable price," Banks said.

In July, Carparts.com Inc., reported a quarterly sales record of $157.5 million, up 32.5% from the same period a year earlier. The Torrance company, which sells more than 100,000 types of auto parts and accessories nationwide, has posted six straight quarters of sales growth, which Chief Executive Lev Peker attributed to the nation's aging vehicles.

Peker said that the average age of his customers' vehicles is more than 12 years, the highest it's ever been.

"It tips right into our sweet spot, which is the 6-year- to 14-year-old vehicle," Peker said. "For us, that's a tailwind, because it's driving more maintenance. It's driving more parts being purchased for those vehicles as they need repairs. So, it's definitely driving business, and we expect this to be a tailwind for the foreseeable future as well."

Weiss decided to take her interest in speed to a different level.

For Weiss, the lockdown period "was absolutely what skyrocketed my journey into racing 100%. And it's funny, I didn't realize it was a trend, that a lot of other people were using this time to work on their cars. I thought it was just me because I'd waited all my life to do something like this."

Weiss figures she's invested $40,000 in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye with 797 horsepower, modified for drag racing.

 

The perfectly nice stock driver's seat weighed 80 pounds; she replaced it with a 12-pound racing seat. Weiss added a roll cage, a seat harness, bigger fuel injectors. The car came with Italian Brembo brakes, considered by many to be the pinnacle of braking power. Weiss said they were too heavy, and replaced them with an even more exotic brand, from Wilwood Engineering in Camarillo.

The result is something that shoves her back in her seat and takes her breath away.

"It's like, somebody opened this door to say, you can have this exhilaration. And all it takes is going fast down the quarter-mile," Weiss said. "It's such a thrill, being able to beat the guy in the other lane. It's amazing."

Weiss was good enough to earn a role on Discovery's reality show "Street Outlaws," where races look illegal, but they're run on closed streets with permits and police escorts. Still, filming usually generates plenty of noise complaints from nearby residents.

That's why Weiss said she prefers real racetracks. There, no one but the paying spectators get to hear your car scream.

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