South students fuel passion for cars

Justine Liu, Staff Writer

Having a car means having the independence of going wherever you want, whenever you want. However, for some South students, their love of cars goes beyond just the independence that comes with them. For these students, cars are representations of oneself, as they contribute to self expression and a good community. 

For junior Andrew James, his interest in cars was sparked by a friend. He described how he originally wanted a Jeep Wrangler, but once his friend introduced him to sports cars, he was hooked on learning more about them. Although learning about cars was interesting to James, his passion stems from the creativity aspect of being able to make his own car distinctive from others, he said. 

“You’re doing something different, like you get to modify your car to how you want to, not for other people’s sake or to look cool,” James said. “Ten different people could have the same car, but they could make it look completely different. It’s kind of fun to be unique in that way.”

To express his passion, James also enjoys going to car meets around Illinois that car groups would post about on social media. Groups would mention when and where to meet, and it would be a time for people to display their cars and socialize with other car enthusiasts, James said. 

“I go to car meets in Mundelein, Chicago or just anywhere around Illinois,” James said. “There [are typically] hundreds of cars, so you can walk around and see all different types of modifications.” 

As for junior Sabina Kurkowska, her love for cars started at a young age, inspired by her father. Her dad owns a car transporting company, which meant that her childhood was spent surrounded by cars, Kurkowska said. Now that she’s older, Kurkowska said that she has a group of friends who all share an interest in cars. Her friend has even encouraged her to get involved in motorsports, such as drifting, outside of school, she mentioned. Similar to other motorsports, drifting is a racing sport with vehicles, but it involves a specific driving technique of controllably oversteering, according to Kurkowska. 

“I’m beginning to [get involved in motorsports], and a lot of my friends have their own drift teams, so I’m pretty involved in that,” Kurkowska said.

A lot of Kurkowska’s love for cars comes from the community of people she can relate to with their love of motorsports, she said. Meeting new people and seeing the special features of their cars helps her get inspiration for her own car, according to Kurkowska. She also described how having car shows at South would be a fun way for her to express her passion and create the same welcoming community at the school. 

“There are some high schools, like Fremd, that I know [host car shows],” Kurkowska said. “They do different types of awards and stuff. I think yearly car shows where people bring out their cars and show them off would be something really cool to incorporate at South because it’s really unique.” 

Similar to Kurkowska, senior Aleks Gul began liking cars at a young age. Gul described how his desire to learn how everything worked pushed him towards working with cars. 

“My favorite part is that there’s always something to learn,” Gul said. “It’s one of those things where it’s a challenge every day. It’s not like you’re replacing the same part on different cars. It’s completely different how you have to go about it [depending on the car] and it’s very fulfilling.”

Since then, Gul spends a lot of time working on cars with his best friend, he said. Gul described the variety of work that can be done on a car. For instance, the work can range from replacing an engine to completely modifying the car to your desired image. Once the problem and goal are determined, lots of research occurs to find the most convenient way of approaching a task, according to Gul. This process gives him a wide scope of creativity and learning when working on cars, Gul stated. 

“It’s sort of like art, like how people can imagine and draw really well,” Gul said. “[For us,] whatever we want to do, we put it on our cars. You have a problem, use all the tools that you have to fix it and do whatever you need to replace that part or whatever you’re wanting to modify,” 

Gul encouraged everyone with even a slight interest in cars to just experience the events and community. He said car shows and meets are not only a good way to socialize, but a source of inspiration, as they allow people to gather information on different ways to use a part or modify their cars.

“Don’t be scared to join a group,” Gul said. “It might seem very scary to start working on your car, join a form or go to a car meet, but everyone there is helpful and the majority of people are just there to appreciate the engineering behind everything. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a really cool car; just go, have fun and experience it.”