(Not much goin’ on in Campbellsville, KY. Blogging gets slow this time every year. Perdoneme, por favor.)
I’m an old guy. My life is a calm existence oblivious to popular culture. To this day I don’t understand what makes the Kardashians newsworthy, why kids buy and wear torn up jeans, or why anyone watched The Apprentice more than once. Ignorance of such things is nothing new to me: it’s a way of life. For years now I have seen diesel pick-ups spewing black smoke as they accelerate way too hard, and always thought “Don’t blow your engine, fool. You done ruined it, but it might take you from home to work to the bar and back another year or two.” You’ve seen this too. Some knucklehead hammers his ride away from a traffic light, blowing enough black smoke to hide his plates, and perhaps you just thought “Stoo-pid!”
But he probably did this for a reason – a moronic reason, yes – but also a political statement. A new low of American car culture reached critical mass in 2014. It has become known as Rollin’ Coal, and when you see a pick-up truck blowing black clouds it’s likely a Coal Roller in action. The roots of this free speech movement lie in a redneck sport known as Truck Pulls.
Ever been to a truck pull? Didn’t think so. Me neither. At a truck pull pickups drag heavy sleds as far as possible. Diesel engines are the most powerful; gasoline mills need not apply. As in all sports true competitors look for an edge, and in truck pullin’, the edge turned out to be too much fuel. There is a way to trick engines into wanting more fuel, and the trick can be controlled with a toggle switch. It’s not efficient, but it offers a big power boost. A fog of black smoke comes along with the power. From there it’s only a half step to Rollin’ Coal.
Rollin’ ain’t free, or cheap. A Roller gon’ hafta spend a thousand bucks or five times that to get good black smoke just when he wants it. He will have to remove or disable his emission control system, and that means his ride is no longer street legal. Too much diesel will foul his engine and hurt fuel mileage. But such is the price of freedom!
Rollin’ Coal is a mucho macho, renegade protest against environmentalists, slow drivers, cops, bicyclists, joggers, authority in any form, and rice burners (luxurious Japanese cars such as Lexus and Infiniti). That’s where the toggle switch comes in. “If someone pisses you off, you can just roll coal and feel better,” says Ryan, a high school senior who works at a diesel garage in South Carolina. “The other day I rolled this kid driving a Mustang with his windows down … it was awesome!”
State and local governments are passing laws to punish Rollin’, but not everyone approves. Corey Blue of Roanoke, IL wrote his state representative, Will Guzzardi (sponsor of a bill to fine anyone who alters or removes emission control equipment $5,000) “Your bill will not stop us! Why don’t you go live in Sweden and get the heck out of our country. I will roll coal anytime I feel like it, and fog your stupid eco-cars.”
I so hope all of these fools who voted chose Trump. And hey, I might like living in in Sweden.