The Rising “Sport” of dB Drag Racing, or...
Eardrums? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ EARDRUMS!

by Brian Vaszily, founder of

Boomba boomba boomba boomba.

In the neighborhood I grew up in on Chicago’s northwest side, one of the many sounds so routine you typically didn’t even notice it was the thumping bass of various young guys’ souped-up car stereos as they cruised by.

The beat patterns certainly changed through the 1970s and into the 1980s, but whether it was disco or heavy metal or house music or rap, the boomba boomba bass on weekday evenings and both day and night on weekends was a constant fact of the outdoor aural landscape.

Installing equipment to increase the car stereos’ output, and jacking those stereos as high as they could go while cruising, was of course equivalent to young men pumping iron and then flexing their muscles to try to impress one another and girls.

And just as there were always a few guys whose muscles were so over-huge that – try as you might to not give them the satisfaction of noticing, you couldn’t help but notice -- there were always those occasional cars whose boomba boomba levels burst above the din and made everyone actually hear and take notice of them.

Even though most people were actually NOT impressed – irritated is more like it -- these young guys believed themselves to be winners because their car stereo was THE LOUDEST.

So growing up to this backbeat, I was not surprised at all to learn that souping up car stereos and cranking them as high as they can go has become an official sport … and one that is rapidly growing in popularity.

Stereo Sound Waves So Powerful They Can Crush Your Lungs

The “sport” is called dB Drag racing.

Those who participate equip their vehicles with tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of amplifiers, subwoofers and more with some very loud stereos as the end result. Car stereos so loud, in fact, their nose can only be measured by instruments sealed inside the vehicle, because the sound waves can be forceful enough to crumple a human being’s lungs.

There are multiple dB Drag racing competitions and events held in the U.S. and throughout the world these days (audio equipment companies like JBL and Pioneer spend $5 million yearly sponsoring them.) The dB Drag Spring Break Nationals take place in Daytona, Florida, and bring out many of the sports’ heavyweights.

One such heavyweight, Gorman Cassidy of Montgomery, Alabama, had the stereo in his 1990 Chevy Astro van hit 168.8 decibels. By way of comparison, a fire engine siren hits 120 decibels, and an airplane typically hits 90 decibels.

But that’s not even a record.

The dB drag racing world record is held by Scott Owens of Gilbert, Arizona, whose Ford F-250 hit a eardrum, lung AND bone-shattering 179.6 decibels. That’s about as loud as a Saturn rocket.

Fortunately, you won’t typically find dB drag racers vehicles rolling down your street, or any street. Many of them are so loaded with audio equipment, in fact, that they cannot even drive on their own – they have to be towed to events.

And very much unlike the boomba boomba cruisers from my old Chicago neighborhood, those who compete live by a dB drag racing creed:

  • I will never operate my system in a manner that will disturb those around me.
  • I will never operate my system in a manner that could result in injury.
  • I will never operate my system in violation of the law.
  • I will do my best to represent the sport of dB Drag Racing in a positive fashion.
  • I will conduct myself in a professional manner while participating at events.
  • I will do my best to support those companies and retailers who support our sport.
  • I will always abide by the dB Drag Racing rules when competing and will do my best to insure that others abide by the rules as well.
  • If you are now possibly interested in switching your AM/FM radio in your old Ford Tempo to a 169 decibel stereo monster, or you are possibly interested in attending one of the dB drag racers’ events in your area so you can do away with your eardrums once and for all, check out this dB drag racing website.