Car Culture Captivates Students


Photo Courtesy of Gregorio Betancur

Camaros prepare to race at Autodromo de Medellin on November 24.

Cristobal Villegas and Jacobo Mantilla

Tension starts to build as the defening engines roar like a lion. Seconds turn into minutes, your heart beats fast as race cars begin to  speed up las palmas. After all the wait, you finally see all sorts of tuned engines race against each other, before finally seeing the flashing colors arriving at la bomba de ingenieros where people get a closer look  and smell the burning fuel of the cars reving. 

Car culture in Medellin has grown quickly in the last few years. Car enthusiasts like Gregorio Betancur, Sebastian Gil, and Morcillo Motorsports,  have all been an inspiration for people to take their impressive cars to the streets. This movement generates  some of the biggest car clubs in Medellin like Los Totes Colombia, Totes EAFIT, CarCulture, NoRules2Ride, and ClubG3, to increase and make the community more passionate and popular.

The TCS community is not left behind. Teenage high school boys are deeply  involved in  car culture, attending the car rides and watching as the engines roar on most Thursdays nights on la bomba de Ingenieros. The presence of car races is a safe bubble for many, making this hobby more than just a passion. Maximiliano Restrepo, a TCS Grade 11 student, is an example. He found a way to turn his passion into his future by starting his professional debut on F4 with the Drivex team in the 2023-24 season.

“Car culture is growing at a really fast rate and there are a lot of nice cars and supercars coming into Medellin, also cars here in Medellin are a lot cooler than in the rest of Colombia which brings a lot of attention into the community,” Pablo Escandón, Grade 11, said.

Owning fancy cars in Medellin is not a common hobby. Streets are not designed for supercars and the speed limit does not allow cars to show their full potential. So, why have high-end cars in Medellin and since when did they become so popular? Cars have been in Medellin’s culture for a long time, originally recognized at the Desfile de Autos Antiguos during the annual Feria de flores. This was the only time people saw nice-looking old cars. What really expanded car culture in the city these last few years was its trend on social media. 

“I think that because of social media and other internet tools, many people have started to look more in-depth into cars, especially boys. With social media, rare cars and races are being normalized and expanded through the city,” Samuel Aristizabal, Grade 11, said.

Although cars capture all of the attention, streets such as Avenida Las Palmas also have a huge importance in Medellin’s car culture. Events take place on this street where people race each other or do stunts late at night. When both cars and the famous Las Palmas “circuit” are combined, huge events happen and viral videos are uploaded, like the 50 million-view video of a BMW M235i drift on Las Palmas uploaded on the @fuelbang Instagram page. 

“Social media is one of the most important tools and basically the future of most markets, so with this car-based Instagram page I knew that I  would get somewhere with it, and that I would have a positive impact on the car community that I so much love,” Nicolas Mejia, 2022 TCS graduate and FuelBang creator, said. 

Singers and rappers such as J-Balvin, Maluma, and Kevin Roldan first brought high-end supercars like the Porsche 911 or the famous Lamborghini Huracan to Medellin. People then brought more of these due to their prominence and status. 

Social media is the main stage, but without events and most importantly, cars, much of the car culture in Medellin would not even exist. Content creators and car enthusiasts organized private and public events where the car community could go, talk about cars, and admire the beauty of the few high-end cars in the city. One example is the Retospeed Cuarto de Milla event, sold and advertised through Instagram, where high-end cars raced against each other for the famous ¼ of a mile. Events were advertised through social media, where people could buy tickets to see these cars race. 

“Car variety here in Medellin is exceptional, you can see at events how people go around observing a Renault Twingo pop to see the incredible V10 engine of a Lamborghini Huracan,” Santiago Balladares, Grade 11, said. 

But unorganized events catch people’s attention more often than others. Almost every Thursday night when Las Palmas is empty, these cars race each other while fanatics watch the toteada from the side of the road. Yet the late-night show does not end there. The cars carry on up the road and stop at a gas station near the Escuela de Ingenieros (EIA) where people gather to admire these machines and hear their engines roar. 

“The weekly car meets on la bomba de ingenieros is one of the places where non-car fanatics can see the high range of cars Medellin has and how many people go to admire them. This is the biggest car meet the city has,” Mejia said.

It was not a surprise then, that sooner or later car culture would hit TCS. Car culture has gained popularity, especially in HS, where fanaticism towards the car culture thrives. A big percentage of students join car clubs, and some even take part in the events. 

Students can often be found on la bomba de Ingenieros on Thursday nights, watching the supercars on exhibit. Some of the students also own some of these machines like, Mercedes Benz AMG A45s, Stage 2 tuned Volkswagen GTI, Cupra Formentor, a couple of Mini Cooper S, BMW 240i, 330i, 340i, and more.

“When going to these events you can see how people are passionate about cars. Each time one of the monsters passes by you can see how everyone takes out their phones to film the moment. When the cars rev it’s like music to my ears,” Simon Pelaez, Grade 11, said 

Car culture in Medellin differentiates in comparison to other cultures of Colombia and the world. It is a humble community and it includes people and cars from all types of sorts. People in Medellin are not used to these high-class vehicles given the country’s economic situation, unlike other places in which these cars abound. 

“Events in other parts of the world have better cars, but those events are not as relatable or as special as here in Colombia because most people here are not used to seeing them, which is what makes these exotic cars in Colombia so special and cool,” Escandón said.

“Cars are the biggest compliment in my life, when I am sad I watch cars, I drive them, I talk about them, I am really enthusiastic, they are awesome,” Aristizabal said.