We gentle liberal souls are a simple lot, foolishly thinking that everyone wants to be nice and get along and braid each other’s hair while singing Indigo Girls songs about empowerment and shit. But it turns out that peace, love, and understanding are, in fact, pretty goddamned funny, and so sometimes the Manly Men who know that Diesel is Life need to remind us of that fact by blowing black sooty smoke into our Prius-driving faces. Or onto random pedestrians. Or just for the hell of it. The practice is colloquially known as “rollin’ coal,”* and the effect is achieved on the cheap by applying the throttle in a too-low gear, or if you want to really make a scene, by spending a few thousand bucks to modify a truck’s fuel system to dump excessive fuel into the cylinders, resulting in a nice black plume of sooty exhaust. It’s fuckin’ HILARIOUS, and it leaves wimpy liberal greenies just gibbering with impotent rage about “the environment,” which is just a lot of empty land that would best be used by leaving deep ruts in it.
It’s really a kind of genius way to turn technology into pure trolling, transportation into culture war, and air pollution into a political statement. Rollin’ coal gives environmentalists — and even better, the actual environment — a fossil-fuel wedgie.
Vocativ’s Elizabeth Kulze explains the craze:
The pollution pageantry has its origins in Truck Pulls, a rural motorsport where diesel pickups challenge one another to see who can pull a weighted sled the farthest. In order to have an edge, drivers started modifying their trucks to dump excessive fuel into the motor, which gave them more horsepower, torque, speed and a better chance of winning. It also made their trucks emit black smoke, an affectation that apparently won the hearts of country boys everywhere. Today kids will spend anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 modifying their pickups for this sole purpose; adding smoke stacks and smoke switches (which trick the engine into thinking it needs more gas), or even revamping the entire fuel system.
Just look at the great fun to be had with big smoky trucks!
It’s annoying and loud and testosterone-drenched and pointless, so of course it’s everything an American man could want! And if it irritates you, that just proves what a greenie wuss you are, haw haw haw.
Aside from being macho, the rollin’ coal culture is also a renegade one. Kids make a point of blowing smoke back at pedestrians, in addition to cop cars and rice burners (Japanese-made sedans), which can make it dangerously difficult to see out of the windshield. Diesel soot can also be a great road rage weapon should some wimpy looking Honda Civic ever piss you off. “If someone makes you mad, you can just roll coal, and it makes you feel better sometimes,” says Ryan, a high school senior who works at the diesel garage with Robbie. “The other day I did it to this kid who was driving a Mustang with his windows down, and it was awesome.”
And sure, maybe particulates in diesel exhaust are among the deadlier forms of air pollution, and a chief driver of climate change, but that just makes it all the more fun to piss off those socialist wusses who think that climate change is even real.
One of the coal-rolling enthusiasts (we love using the prissiest language we can here) in Kulze’s profile doesn’t so much mind that it’s polluting and stupid and even dangerous to other people; if anything, those are features, not bugs, really:
“It’s bad for the environment. That’s definitely true,” says Ryan. “And some of the kids that have diesel trucks can look like tools. And you can cause a wreck, but everything else about it is pretty good.”
Fascinating, Captain. It appears to be an entire subculture constructed around the ethos of a 1993 song by Denis Leary:
* Haha, “colloquial” is such a pussy word!
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. He’s finally rebuilding his 1973 Chevrolet, Vlad the Impala, and will unapologetically equip it with dual Flowmasters.
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