O’Connor drift company Hoodrat tries to get illegal drift off the streets

When you think of young guys who live to drift cars, it’s easy to fixate on the Fast and the Furious movies and their law-breaking and menacing street car gangs.

However, Rodney Raffa and his crew of five friends have decided to change the story of being known as quintessential hoons by founding Hoodrat, their own drift company that aims to get people off the streets and into a safe, car-loving community.

“Hoodrat is a bunch of friends who want to get organized and create safe places for everyone to hang out and do what we love in cars,” said Mr. Raffa.

Camera Icon Hoodrats’ Rodney Raffa wants to create a safe place for car enthusiasts. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

“As a Hoodrat, you can’t do anything on the street because it’s against the law. This is one of the laws you have to follow in our group. Otherwise, you will be kicked out by us.

“Otherwise, you’ll ruin the community and what we’re trying to do for you.”


Mr. Raffa said Hoodrat was often mistakenly associated with another more reckless group illegally filmed on and around Leach Highway this week.

WA’s top traffic cop criticized that group’s behavior after footage aired of members doing burnouts in a Myaree parking lot on 7NEWS.

State traffic commander Mike Bell suggested that auto clubs should all be given more attention.

“People like this create a bad name for what we do here at Hoodrat,” said Mr. Raffa.

illegal drift

“We’re not associated with them, and it’s one of the main reasons we created this place, so people can stop wandering the streets illegally.”

Hoodrat launched on Good Friday five weeks ago with an invite-only event on the Garling Street property in O’Connor.

It had all the glamor of a Paul Walker-Vin Diesel movie set – fast cars, lights, cheering crowds, and a smooth driving.

At one point, in video footage seen by PerthNow, two cars spin dangerously close together as they smoke their tires — just yards from people enjoying the show and filming from makeshift seats.

Unsurprisingly, it was smoky and noisy and got complaints from people living nearby.

Camera Icon Hoodrats members Benjamin Target, Stephen Dekker, Ayden Cisneros, Rodney Raffa, Jack Badkin, and Jack Carwardine. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

Mr. Raffa said the group had notified the local police of their event, expecting complaints to arise, even though they were living their dreams on private property and not technically violating traffic rules.

“We notified the police in advance because we knew they would get calls from horns, noise, smoke, and many people in a certain area,” he said.

“I also informed them that it was an organized party and event, so they had all my details. And when they woke up, I went downstairs, chatted with them, and told them exactly what was happening.

“We held the event in our parking lot on our property, which is privately owned and private land, so it wasn’t on the road or endangering the public.”

But the city of Fremantle said it had not been notified of the car event in advance and had received complaints about the night. It has since told the group that it is no longer allowed to hold events in its jurisdiction, even on private property.

“We have received more than 50 complaints from concerned residents about noise, odor, and smoke from the event,” said a spokesperson for the municipality.

“The group has been informed that such an event from this location would not be approved as it is inappropriate for motorsport activities. They have not applied to the city to host any more events.”

In addition to allowing cars to float on private property, the Good Friday event provided entertainment for a nonprofit mental health organization called Project305, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Jeremy Shannon and his son William drove an hour to get involved in supporting Hoodrat and the drifting community, which he said had helped his son immensely.

“I am a father of four boys, and I look at the car culture in WA, and there are a lot of positives that are not always reflected in the media,” said Mr. Shannon.

“There are also many negatives. But I think if we do it right and get it off the streets like Hoodrat is trying, we can make it available for people to be in a community together.

Camera icon William Shannon (17) and his father, Jeremy. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

“Will has an ASD diagnosis he received when he was 10, which fuels his impulsiveness and social connection; a lot is going on, but he’s a very intelligent man.

“This community has helped every time he has had dark days. It’s what gets him through it.”

William (17) said Hoodrat was a real-life escape for him and likened his love of urges to hobbies others enjoy, such as going to the gym.

“I think it’s great to get it off the road and have a place where we can go where we won’t have any problems doing it. For many of us, this is our escape; this is what we do to vent as others do with the gym,” William said.

“It’s what gets me through a year; by the time I get to a drift event, I’m done, but after the event, I’m ready for the next month or two. †

The decision of the City of Fremantle means that Mr. Raffa is now on the hunt for new venues to host future events.

But in the meantime, the group plans to continue using its O’Connor compound as a home base.

“We don’t want to organize any more events in this place. We understand there is a suburb next door. We have our limits, and we know what irritates people and what not to do,” said Mr. Raffa.

“But this is now our community spot. This is for the people to enjoy and enjoy.”

Another member, Jack Badkin, told PerthNow aspiring drifters who needed these private events to learn in relative safety.

“Right now, with the drift community, there is almost nothing for new people to enter. There are only one or two events a year for beginners who have never done it before,” he said.

“But you can’t go to those events without experience. Otherwise, it can be dangerous, and that’s what we want to offer people. We want to bring people into the sport, do it legally, and get those people off the streets.”

He and Jack Carwardine helped Mr. Raffa set up Hoodrat so that they could offer their experience to others new to the drifting scene.

Mr. Carwardine hoped Hoodrat could help shake off the ‘taunt’ stigma often associated with bums.

“I’ve had a stigma around me since I was 14 because I grew up riding BMX bikes in skate parks,” he said.

“I think people don’t realize that everyone has something they like and that you don’t understand it doesn’t make it wrong.

“We are not whores, and do not want to be considered whores. We want to be seen as people who put our heart and soul into these cars because it’s our life and all we look forward to.”

Hoodrat’s vision is to host free events open to the public once a month throughout Perth.

“So with the next step, Hoodrat is looking for more locations in privatized areas such as car parks, hard driveways, etc. which is 1000 sqm, 500 sqm, or whatever is possible,” said Mr. Raffa.

“Somewhere, we can interact (directly) with the person who owns that property and therefore runs our events.

“We’ve realized it’s not the way to be. This is how we can show and let people learn from our mistakes. We show that anyone can be a Hoodrat and legally push their limits as much as they want.”

John D.Mayne
I love to write. When I wasn’t writing for my school newspaper or college blog, I was writing personal essays and journal entries. Then I discovered I loved to write. In college, I wrote for my school paper and my campus radio show. I started doing freelance writing for the Huffington Post in 2009. Then, I joined the team at Newsmyth as a writer/editor. Now, I spend most of my time writing for Newsmyth and as a guest blogger on a handful of other blogs. When I’m not writing, I like to read, travel, cook, and spend time with friends.